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20 Jul 2014

"Two Rooms": a celebration of the radio show and to the man who hosts this talented and impressive programme

Do you imagine a radio show where you could listen songs like “House Of Cards”, “Too Low For Zero” or “Mellow”? Could it be? Yes, like life itself. The clue: WOMR 92.1 fm (Provincetown), 91.3 fm Orleans, a radio show all about Elton. You eltonites know I am talking about “Two Rooms, Celebrating the songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin” (Sunday’s at midnight). “Next to Lennon and Mc Cartney, Elton and Bernie are among the most talented, prolific and diverse songwriters in pop music” states, David Singler, a die-hard Eltonite who hosts the programme.  Sigler is an avid fan since 1974, when he heard “Bennie and the Jets” and decided to bring Elton’s songs on the radio with success four years ago. WOMR, a public broadcasting community radio based in Provincetown, Massachussetts, went on air on March 21st 1982, precisely when “Empty Garden”, Elton and Bernie’s tribute to John Lennon, was released as a single. Sigler also hosts a show about the Top 40 charts called Pop life: Hits, Misses and Everything in Between compelling 3 decades of Pop Music (1970-2000).

To the occasion, I decided to ask some of the avid listeners about their feelings of the show. Also, ask them a song he/she would love to listen on the radio show. It’s your turn, eltonites: “I began listening to Two Rooms when the show first began and have been a dedicated listener ever since. Dave Sigler hosts the show and does a fantastic job every week” starts Sarah Johnson, while adding: “Dave does a great job of including an eclectic mix of songs which celebrate the incredible musical partnership of Elton John and Bernie Taupin over the history of their careers. Dave’s expert knowledge on Elton and Bernie and his enthusiasm and passion for the music is reflected in the show.” “First off, David is a fan with a great deal of knowledge and experience behind him. He brings those traits to his show to give the best possible showcase of Elton’s music” agreed Paul Purcell.  “David’s show has become my weekly addiction, I have listened to and downloaded the show since Nov 2012, in all these shows I don’t believe there is one show where I haven’t discovered something completely new to me” continues Mike O’Reilly.

So “Two Rooms” has unique features such as Taupin spotlight (a song he sings or wrote with other artists), cover spotlight (Elton’s) or Tribute time covers (other artists play tribute to a song written by Elton and Bernie), among the most underrated or successful tracks Elton and  / or Bernie has penned. “He focuses on the lesser known tracks so they are brought to a wider audience” thinks Paul Purcell. Andreas Moland Bendixen says: “Even for big-time fans like me there is always something to learn”. Sarah Johnson? “Dave also include EJBT songs covered by other artists along with songs that Elton or Bernie had covered  or been involved professionally. Dave always manages to pull gems of songs of the EJBT archive, which I have never heard before, which is such a pleasant surprise”.  Thank you Sarah. “All aspects of Elton’s career are catered for, so anyone tuning in for the first or umpteenth time will learn something new” adds Paul Purcell. “I don’t know if other music artist have a dedicated weekly program, but I am very grateful David provide this for us dedicated and new Elton & Bernie fans” completes Mike O’Reilly.

Several shows had been done.  My favourites?  “40th Anniversary of Caribou” (TR424); “Nighttime”, a collection of songs with the word night on the title (TR422); “My Top 10 favourite EJ Albums” (TR221); “Taking flight”, songs about places and destinations (TR220), or “Remixed”, a collection of remixes all over the years (TR108), just to name a few. “Dave picks a theme for each show, some of which of my favourites include the album tribute shows and interview shows where his guest always has a knowledgeable and informative insight into the world of Elton John and Bernie Taupin” continued Sarah Johnson. “B-sides have also been given proper attention, which is of course a thrill for fans. Many of us feel they are as good, or better, as anything on the albums. I have to say that has been my favorite part of “Two Rooms” added Andreas Moland Bendixen. Me, I have the chance to go back to postcasts and realized how much interesting tracks it had been played: for example, I love when he played “Engine 19”, a song rejected by Elton in 2002 (“Engine House 19”) and written by Taupin with Richie Sambora in 2013, a tribute song for the families of the victims and heroes of 09/11 (23rd September 2013). Sarah Johnson concludes: “As I said before, I am an avid listener of Two Rooms, and look forward to listening every week. It is so great that Two Rooms is on the airwaves paying tribute to and celebrating the timeless work of Elton and Bernie”.

David, here's a very important man in your project. He kindly agree to send me some words for you, so, John Braden, Executive Director of WOMR/WFMR, thanks very much for being here, this is your turn: "Our audience has enthusiastically embraced David’s weekly tribute to the legendary Elton John on his “Two Rooms” program according to listener feedback. Elton fans throughout our Cape Cod broadcast area, and worldwide at womr.org, seem to really enjoy David’s meticulously researched program, we are lucky to have David’s involvement with our listener supported community radio station for many years to come...  or as Elton would say “...a long, long time.”"Thanks so much then, I am agree with you 100%.

Finally, people, one song you would love to listen, or listen again, in a next Two Rooms show?

Paul Purcell: Believe
Sarah Johnson: Porch Swing On Tupelo  
Mike O’Reilly: The Retreat  
Andreas Moland Bendixen:  Live Like Horses live 1994 or 1995
Jack Rabbit: Into The Old Man’s Shoes

Thank you very very much to Sarah Johnson, Andreas Moland Bendixen, Paul Purcell and Mike O’Reilly for their appreciated collaboration. There are several eltonites who agreed to do the same, so updating versions of this article will be done.

I would like to conclude this, with a BIG THANK YOU to the man who week by week is doing something value for Elton and Bernie’s music. In these days that their songs are not played as they deserve in the majority of the radio airwaves, doesn’t matter which country, is so relevant that Dave Sigler dedicates his time and efforts to do. And he does it with the ability to make interesting shows to the community, and with what’s so much important: with his passion. Dave, you deserve my recognition on your job, please make this radio show as long as you can. I couldn’t wait to download next podcast of the show. Couldn’t imagine my days without your show. As I said before, THANK YOU.

I asked Andreas Moland Bendixen to send me his feelings about the show, and he sent me this wonderful article. Although I reproduced some of his thoughts in the article I posted before, I thought absolutely necessary to post the article in its enterity, because it’s a well done job. So, this is Andreas’ article about the radio show. Enjoy as much as I did. Thanks so much Andreas.

Songs from the East Coast, by Andreas Moland Bendixen

A standard musical radio program promotes current top 40 hits and does not normally seek to analyze or explain music in detail. A Rhianna song gives way to a One Direction song with unmerciful speed, only to be interrupted by loud and intense commercials. Should you, however, be lucky enough to find yourself on the east coast of the United States, between Provincetown and Orleans in Massachusetts to be exact, you should tune your radio to FM 92.1 or 91.3. Here you will find the exceptional musical radio program “Two Rooms” that does not only play the great music by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, but also discusses and analyzes the tracks.

Elton John has one of the vastest back catalogs there are. This radio show gives the songs the attention they need. It is a thrill for fans, and a source for will-become fans. David Sigler’s knowledge of Elton is impressive and it’s a treat to be able to hear songs, but also interviews and facts. True, great books like “Sir Elton” by Philip Norman, or the wonderful East End Light and Hercules Magazines are most informative, but they lack the obvious detail: being able to listen to Elton.

In a recent broadcast, the underrated 1993 “Duets” album was the topic. Sigler let Elton do most of the talking and I was happy to learn things I didn’t know before.  Even for big-time fans like me there is always something to learn. So “Love Letters” was the first song to be recorded during those sessions! “Duets” is a treasure for any music fan, and I’m glad it was given a chance to shine.

B-sides have also been given proper attention, which is of course a thrill for fans. Many of us feel they are as good, or better, as anything on the albums. I have to say that has been my favorite part of “Two Rooms”.

I would like to thank David Sigler and WOMR.org for this fantastic show. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say how much we enjoy listening on the radio or online, and hope you have many musical years to come! 

7 Jul 2014

"Together, The Two Of Them Were Mining Gold" David Sigler’s Top 30 Elton John List. Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of AllSongsList

9. David Sigler

It was most likely the summer of ’74 that I discovered the music of Elton John. I had not even heard of him at the time (I was about 7), because I was wrapped up in the bubblegum pop music of that era. However, upon hearing Bennie And The Jets, something clicked and the rest, as they say is history. Jumping on the Eltonmania bandwagon that was starting to sweep the world, my introduction came at the perfect time.

A frenzied time period between 1974-1976 was just that – a frenzy. There was a dizzying array of albums, album artwork and packaging, awesome lyrics, killer album tracks and so many hit singles. It seemed like Elton was everywhere and of course, what he touched turned to gold. You know the songs I’m talking about and the era, so no need to go into details.

I also stuck by Elton as that time came to an end. And it hit hard. The “lost” years of 1977-1979 however still provided some good songs, just not quite as stellar as before. But we played every new Elton album (and by “we” I mean my family). Because of his music prior to this period, Elton was kinda considered like an old friend - and we weren’t going to desert him (even if he pushed us to the limits with things like Victim of Love!) It should be noted that I first saw Elton in concert in 1979 and it basically cemented the fandom.

The 1980’s saw his rebirth as an artist and determination to get things back on track (and he did!) It was a fun time watching him on MTV and producing some fun and innovative videos. The decade started off with a return to form with the album 21 At 33, and ended with the classic Sleeping With The Past. Sure, there were a few bumps in the road along that ride (Act of War anyone?), but heck, what legendary artist has a perfect track record?

I plugged along in the 1990’s as Elton’s music went more adult contemporary but he produced some fine material including The One and the Made In England album. In 1993, I got a chance to meet Bernie after an Elton concert in Washington, DC  - I got to shake the hand of the one who writes the words! And, another big highlight was meeting Elton backstage during the 1995 Made In England tour in Columbia, Maryland – what a thrill! Plus, I enjoyed and appreciated the beginnings of his foray into Broadway – some good quality songs from him and his varying lyricists.

As the millennium dawned, and the subsequent albums that followed, I enjoyed all of them. Elton and Bernie certainly have a more mature approach to their songwriting these days. Lyrical themes and melodies seem to be more in line with their age and status in life (at least that’s what I’ve heard them say in the press), but it’s still connecting with me.

As I reflect on putting this together, I’ve seen Elton at least 25 times in concert, put together fanzines, collected nearly everything, enjoyed Taupin’s lyrics outside of Elton (and vice versa), made scrapbooks, tracked down that odd song on some charity album, etc. I’ve also met some outstanding people and have made long lasting friendships as a result of our mutual appreciation of Elton’s music.

And lastly, I have found a wonderful creative outlet with a weekly radio show I host, called Two Rooms: Celebrating The Music Of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, on WOMR. The show attempts to bring Elton and Bernie’s entire music catalog to a wider audience – and not just the hits. It’s a joy to produce this show and judging from the feedback I have received, others are enjoying it too. Two Rooms broadcasts every Sunday at midnight on 92.1 FM WOMR. For more information about the show, feel free to visit http://www.womr.org/meet-our-djs/david-sigler or www.facebook.com/tworoomsejbtTo reach me directly, you may email me at: tworoomsejbt@yahoo.com.

Now, on to my Top 30 Favorite Elton John songs:

30. Indian Sunset – 1971 – I view this album track from Madman Across The Water as basically a short story set to music. Bernie Taupin’s lyric about the treatment of the American Indian is full of wonderful imagery and sadness. Yet it’s Elton’s vocal and overall treatment of the melody that takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. Paul Buckmaster’s orchestral arrangement only enhances the drama and power of this song.

29. Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters – 1972 – From Honky Chateau, this song is a fine album track that explores the darker side of New York City. With minimal accompaniment from the band, it’s Elton’s piano and vocals that are the highlight. And Taupin’s lyric is simply one of his best and perhaps, most direct.

28. Original Sin – 2001 – From Songs From The West Coast, here’s a ballad that has so much imagery in the lyric (thanks to Taupin, once again), that it’s hard to say which lines are my favorites. But its Elton’s vocals that underscore how good this song is and his higher notes on the chorus are just as affecting.

27. Spiteful Child – 1982 – A little rocker from the album, Jump Up! The first time I heard it, I loved it. The crisp piano rolls are amazing and while the lyric from Taupin may be a little downtrodden, the melody and production of Spiteful Child may make it a flashy 80’s-style piece of power pop fluff, but I still play it over and over.

26. Harmony – 1973 – The classic band line up from the classic album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, brings us Harmony, an album track that is surely one of Elton’s best songs.  Taupin’s lyric shifts gear a couple of times but the chorus is beautiful. It’s Elton’s vocals that send it home and the backing vocals wrap up this song and album on a winning note.

25. The Last Song – 1992 – A classic for the ages. The Last Song is a somber look at asking for acceptance and coming to terms with whom you are and who you love. This love letter style lyric, about a dying son speaking to his father is one of Elton and Bernie’s best. It’s a song I don’t listen too much but when I do, everything stops. It’s that powerful.

24. I’m Still Standing – 1983 – I remember the day I saw this 45 at the Waxie Maxies Record Store in the mall. I had not heard it before. However, I knew Elton and Bernie (and the original band) were back together for the album this song came from, Too Low For Zero, so I was full of anticipation. When the needle hit the groove, it surprised the hell of me! What a jubilant 3 minutes of pure pop! I’m Still Standing always makes me feel good and when the video became a hit on MTV, I knew something special was going on with this song and Elton’s career in the MTV era. I’m Still Standing is a joy. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

23. Street Kids – 1975 – You can’t go wrong with this down and dirty rocker from Rock Of The Westies. The piano licks and layered guitars kick this one in high gear with the pedal down. And it’s one of Elton’s meanest vocals too. I just love the drive and attitude Street Kids conveys.

22. Mexican Vacation (Kids In The Candlelight) – 2013 – Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint why a song captures you in a way but this one sure does. I think it’s the lyric sentiment  from Taupin, of children of war being rescued. Which war? I’m not sure but the line “every golden child tonight feels change is the wind” just hit me. What a great way to express that change is coming for the better and there is hope. Taupin at his best and Elton’s driving, bluesy piano nails the message home.  

21. This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore – 2001 – A perfect album closer to Songs From The West Coast that not only makes everyone think of their morality, but also your stage in life. This song is about recognizing that we may not be what we once were. It’s clearly a sad song and the melody is perfect for Taupin’s desperate lyric.

20. Empty Garden (Hey, Hey Johnny) – 1982 – There were tribute songs written by Elton and Bernie for other legends before but this one is my favorite. Taupin’s heartfelt lyric about the slain John Lennon touches a lot of emotions:  anger, sadness, and the senselessness of it all. Elton’s painfully touching vocals move me every time I listen to it. You can hear the anguish of his voice in the chorus and subsequent pleas for Lennon to “come out and play” one more time. Empty Garden is a classic song that has stood the test of time; and only seems to get better and more moving as the years go by.

19. Cold As Christmas (In The Middle Of The Year) – 1983 –A song about a love dying between an elderly couple, Cold As Christmas is a wistful ballad (another lyrical gem from Taupin). It has all the ingredients of a typical song from the original Elton John band.  But wait, it does because this song and the album it comes from (Too Low For Zero), reunited that band!

18. Mama Can’t Buy You Love – 1979 – A terrific piece Philly soul produced by the legendary, Thom Bell. Mama Can’t Buy You Love has a sweeping (dare I say) disco feel and I make no apologies for liking it. Elton simply put his vocals on it (no songwriting credit) and sang in a lower register than too; but you can’t mistake his trademark vocal style. Everyone I knew loved this song when it came out and it bring back good memories of the summer of 1979.

17. I Swear I Heard The Night Talking – 1990 – That opening drum shot and quick hitting synthesizers made this song an instant favorite. Another lost album track, I Swear I Heard The Night Talking is a moody and dark lyric of which Elton pulls off brilliantly. Taupin’s lyric is about as dark as he’s ever gotten. The lyric is about being pulled in by the nighttime to realize your lust and desires. Elton’s sharp vocals and the accompanying thrashing guitars make for a different type of song from the duo. Elton’s final “ohhhh yeah” at the end further illustrate this with its haunting echo (too bad they cut it a bit short). 

16. The Captain And The Kid – 2006 – This song really moved me upon the first listen because it not only pulled the refrain from another favorite song (Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy), but also in its determination to put a bookend to the story of Elton and Bernie’s relationship. Not that the story is over but The Captain And The Kid, a pseudo country rock song, felt like an old friend stopping by after a long time of being away.  

15. When Love Is Dying – 2010 – Who says Elton can’t still hit a high note? On this song, it’s great to hear his upper range and the ability to hold such a long note. A duet with Leon Russell, from their album, The Union, was written by Elton and Taupin, When Love Is Dying is full of great moments from singers but Elton steals the show. And Brian Wilson’s contributing backing vocals are killer too. This song should have been a single.

14. Voyeur – 2013 – Every now and then, a more recent song will just grab me by the collar and make force me to stand up and listen. Voyeur is one of those songs. A killer lyric by Taupin and, another inventive melody by Elton, I was not only hooked at the first listen, but I play it repeatedly. I love the shift in the melody between the verses and the long, haunting one note that Elton sings with the word ‘voyeur.’ And the ending fade out of Elton’s piano reminds me of Tubular Bells, a great ending to a great song from The Diving Board.

13. Elton’s Song – 1981 – With this song, it felt as if Elton was telling my story and many others I’m sure, of unrequited love. I remember Elton playing this on the American Music Awards in 1980, but I had to wait to officially have it on a record a year later. A stark Tom Robinson lyric with Elton’s touching vocal and strong melody, this song reminds me of perhaps, not the best time in my life, but it gave me hope. And by Elton taking this chance with this song, he seemed to say, to me at least, that he was willing to connect with his fans of all varying backgrounds and situations. A surprising song, from an underrated album called The Fox.

12. The One – 1992 – A grand ballad is there ever were one and another example of Elton’s melodies matching Taupin’s lyics perfectly. The One has so many great moments, that it’s hard to name the part that resonates the most with me. But maybe, it’s just the the delicate piano solo in the middle of the song.

11. Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding – Is there truly a better opening song from an Elton John album from Goodbye Yellow Brock Road other than this one? Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding is a masterpiece that fuses two incredibly strong songs together to make one complete rock song. The bass lines that Dee Murray plays in the build up to what is essentially the Love Lies Bleeding part, is classic and sets  the stage for the “rock” part of this song. Combined with Elton’s perfect vocal of Taupin’s sad lyric of a love dying, Davey Johnstone’s hard driving guitar work and Nigel Olsson’s steady drumming, this is my second favorite rock song by Elton.

The Top Ten

10. Little Jeannie – 1980 – After the experimental years from 1978-1979, this song reminds me of the summer of 1980 and how relieved I was to find Elton back to doing what he does best: writing great pop songs. Written by Elton and lyricist Gary Osbourne, Little Jeannie had all the ingredients of what Elton and Taupin had done so well. Great hook, perfect backing vocals and a charm about it that just made me feel good.  For a Top 3 hit, it doesn’t seem to get much respect now, but it brings back a special time for me.

9. Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy – 1975 – What a surprise shift this song has as it builds up to the chorus. The gentle acoustic opening to the rocking edge of the chorus, it’s a perfect opening to my second favorite Elton John album. It was fun also getting a glimpse into their early lives via Taupin’s personal lyrics.

8. Pinky – 1974 – Similar to the same feelings I have about High Flying Bird, this easy going ballad just has something about it. And perhaps it’s because I would consider it as Elton’s most romantic vocal. Just the way he sings the opening lines is enough for me. Lyrically, Taupin delivers his usual shift in tone, as the narrative one minute finds the couple in love and by the end of the song, it’s over.

7. High Flying Bird – 1972 – A great album track that pretty much captured me as soon as I heard the backing vocals kick in on the chorus. Plus, Elton’s warm and smooth vocal delivered Taupin’s lyrics with much sincerity. To this day, I think it’s one of their best songs.

6. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – 1973 – This song, perhaps my first experience of really listening to the lyrics and thinking, hmmmm, the sentiment here is a bit heavy. Being caught up in the sheer enjoyment of Elton’s melodies and vocals; Goodbye Yellow Brick Road made me pay attention to the words like never before and thus, likely started an equal appreciation for Bernie Taupin as well. The chorus of this song is wonderful, with its beautiful harmonies and orchestral arrangement, but I don’t have to tell you that.

5. Crocodile Rock – 1972 – Another song I discovered a few years after its release, Crocodile Rock is another example of Elton and the band really clicking on every level. Taupin’s lyrical homage to the 1950’s, is not a copy cat either of other songs from that era, but rather an original and just plain fun.

4. Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting – 1973 – Easily one of Elton’s hardest rocking songs and a great example of Elton being able to do it all musically. I’ve always been partial to the sweeping piano roll he does, just before the chorus. The driving beat of Nigel Olsson’s drums, Dee Murray’s incredible bass lines and Davey Johnstone’s blistering guitar work, it’s a great rock number and one that never fails to ignite, after all these years. Elton’s gritty vocals are awesome too as he delivers Taupin’s lyric with pure gusto.

3. Rocket Man – 1972 – The soaring guitar work and incredible backing vocals makes this one a stand out. It’s funny how I can vividly recall coming home from elementary school to play this song from the album Honky Chateau. Rocket Man is such an immaculate piece of pop music, there’s really nothing I can add except to say that I love this song by Elton and Taupin.

2. Bennie And The Jets – 1973 – A song I had not heard until my cousin introduced me to it one sunny summer day in 1974. I had not even been aware of Elton John before this, because I was more into the bubblegum music of the Osmonds, Partridge Family and other similar artists of the day. When I saw the picture of Elton on the Greatest Hits 8-track (!), sitting perfectly on his piano stool, I thought, who is this guy? Upon hearing Bennie And The Jets for the first time, it started me on this journey as I became more impressed which each song I heard from he and Taupin thereafter. For all intents and purposes, this is the song that started it all.

1. Philadelphia Freedom – 1975 – From the very first opening notes of this song, I was hooked. I had already been a big fan of the Philadelphia Sound, so this was two worlds colliding for me, in what has become my favorite Elton John song.  Plus, it was at the height of Elton’s mid-70’s creativity and popularity and there was really no other time like it. Philadelphia Freedom reminds me of being a kid and spinning 45’s and albums non-stop. The band, Taupin’s freedom of the road inspired lyric, the pristine production and Elton’s incredible vocal, all unite for what I consider his perfect single. 

30 May 2014

Following "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" across the world








United States
N. 53 (3   Weeks)
Position: 53 - 99 - 95





United Kingdom
N. 25 (3 Weeks)
Position: 12 - 25 - 53





Ireland
N. 17 (4 Weeks)
Position: 21 - 17 - 60 





France
N. 51 (1 Weeks)
Position: 51





Italy
N. 70 ( 1 Week)
Position: 70

10 Apr 2014

"If I was an Artist, Who Paints with His Eyes" Claude Bernardin's Top 30 Elton John List. Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of AllSongsList

8. Claude Bernardin

April 10, 1970. Release of "Elton John" album. The self-titled album, the second on Elton's career, is the essence of Elton's music. His songwriting had become immediate and succesful, it was the first step on a long way of successes. Our next guess is the essence of eltonites: passionate, loyal, enthusiast: "I became a fan from that fateful night my Older Sister Anne, tossed that Elton John album across the dining room table. Growing up during that period was dream-like. I had no idea what a foundation in the History of Rock N Roll I was to get by becoming such a fan of this man and his music. " Claude Bernardin's speaking. Music and art in a mixture of first degree. An artist who paints with his eyes: "I suppose that line kind of summarizes my entire life….through, image, poetic words, and melody. I even used it as my graduating class, High School yearbook song Quote in 1975." Let's talk about his experiences and thoughts about Elton. It's your turn, just listening.


It’s so hard for me to re-live past moments, but one of the most outstanding albums for me, was “Honky Chateau”. I remember where I was when I heard “Honky Cat”(  in a restaurant), “Rocket Man”( tarring and shingling a garage roof ), and I couldn’t stop singing, “Mellow”, ( and frankly still can’t! ) and I desperately wanted my “Amy”! BY 1976, I started to realize the “Yellow Brick Road” was winding down. I went to my first show t the Phila. Spectrum in July, but the noise levels were pretty high, so was the audience! And Explosions of M-80’s made the entire experience numbing. That wasn’t the Elton I wanted to hear! So I tuned in to a solo concert on TV from Scotland just before my 18th birthday in September, and was smart enough to have a cassette recorder set up. I would later play that show until I wore that tape out! I loved the sound of his voice, and loved the songs. It was so hard to read that article in Rolling Stone Magazine in October.

But I hung on, even through “Ego”, “Thom Bell”, “Victim Of Love” and finally to the TV appearance of “Elton’s Song” ( the ACTUAL return to form as a singer-songwriter! ) and later the next year, on TV his gorgeous duet of “Candle” with Olivia Newton-John and  "Little Jeannie’s” Premiere, and we were back in business! Those late 70’s years were the dark ages for early ‘70’s fans. But No matter the ups and the downs, The fun for me has always been both the studio work and the live material. The 80’s and 90’s I would travel the East Coast to see Elton over 50 times live, and collect as much of the songs as I could find time and money.

I am so proud of where Elton and Bernie are now today, musically. I think the last 13 years have been some of their most powerful years musically. I can get the “essence” of Elton and Bernie down to two songs: “Roy Rogers” and “This Song Has No Title”. Just words and a tune, and some brilliant, unique, emotive vocal skills.

I have seen Elton on every Famous Tour. I have studied every interview, every song, every live version of every song, and I am happy to say, instead of being burned out by now, I’m still invigorated by his live sets, in fact the latest set list might just be one of his best ever. I mean “You’re Sister Can’t Twist”, “Roy Rogers” and “I’ve Seen That Movie Too” with “Home Again” and “Ocean’s Away”? Give me a break! I have fallen in love with the Man’s music and Bernie’s words all over again thanks to the outstanding album, “The Diving Board. A New Career Masterpiece. I really do see this album in the league of those early 1970’s gems like Madman, Elton John, and Yellow Brick Road. It’s a bizarre thing to hear a new album that somehow captures the “essence” of the brilliant past, and yet still sounds new and vibrant.

I can’t stop playing it! It has played every day in my truck since September 2013.

Elton and Bernie’s songs have been a part of every stitch in the fragment of my life.

And I have painted and imagined landscapes and places to every song, repeatedly as I paint. They are the canvas and colors of my Art.

Thank you Miquel for the honor top write this top 30 list.

It was a HUGE task, and it took much re-writing and re-listening inorder for me to finalize my favorites. I included the next 30, so some could see where other favorites might have finished up. It hurt me that “Empty Garden” didn’t make my top 30. But what can you do?!

I chose songs based on my, Most often played in my truck listings, and also probably for their brilliant musicianship and recording!

The Other 30 songs : All songs Vying for Position ( but they eventually got cut ) :

Street Kids, Cage The Songbird, The King Must Die, Harmony, Emperor’s New Clothes, The Voyeur, Indian Sunset, My Father’s Gun, This Song Has No Title, Grey Seal, Blue Avenue, Tower Of Babel, Tell Me When The Whistle Blows, No Valentines, Madman, Empty Garden, Cold As Christmas, The One, The North, Goodbye, Healing Hands, Come Down In Time, Tiny Dancer, Michelle’s Song, First Episode at Hienton, Wake Up Wendy, Mandalay Again, The Best Part Of The Day, I Need You To Turn Too and Bad Side Of The Moon ( Here and There ).

Honorable Performance Mentions: I’m Ready, and Sugar On The Floor ( He didn’t write them ).

Top30 EltonJohn Songs:

30. This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore – 2001 – There were another ten songs vying for this position…and some I might change my tune on given another day. But what “songs from the west coast” gave us, was a masterful return to a man I grew up with. I could not believe Old Elton returned after all those decades, stronger than ever. Still can’t …frankly! And admire him more and more, daily as I ponder that he cared enough to do it once again. That is no easy task, for those who just think Elton farts classic recordings. His effort, Taupin’s effort, everyone’s effort payed off in the final track. It is a match to 1973’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ in style, sound And delivery. The song is classic Elton, another cinematic masterpiece. And I never ever tire of playing it. He needs to go back to this Studio, this Producer and try it again. And I’ll have the last word on this one Bernie: “Apparently , you’re wrong…This Train DOES stop there ……” J and thank God it did once again!

29. I’m Gonna Be A Teenage Idol – 1972 - In 1996, after my father died, I received a phone call from Mr. Tom Stanton, and East End Lights. We chatted about our books success. He asked me then, if I could choose two songs I’d want to hear live, what would they be: I didn’t pause to think…My favorite song on The Big Picture was “Love’s Got a Lot To Answer For”, and I was playing “Teenage Idol” so much in my truck my friends were complaining! J  I was stunned, when I went to The Bryce Jordan Center in Penn State, and these songs were in the set! In fact I cried through Loves Got a Lot, because I’d just lost my Mother at the time, ( weeks before ). And add in Sand and Water and you know what I think of that tour. One of his best without a doubt! The song is Pre-Bennie and The Jets. It’s better in my opinion. The track, yes a tribute to Marc Bolan, but couldhave easily also been about Elton and his career sky-rocketing. It contains some of the best “Root Toot Shoot” piano Elton has ever recorded. For me, a lover of a piano player, it doesn’t get much better than this. A career Milestone in my opinion, far too often over looked.

28. Have Mercy On The Criminal – 1972 – The precursor for “Yellow Brick Road” no doubt…and another fascinating band performance. Guitarist Johnstone blazes the recording with a glorious guitar solo. One of his career bests! But Buckmaster’s string arrangement was ground breaking, a mini horror flick! AND Taupin and Elton were at the center of the plot. Producer Dudgeon was as close as Hitchcock in his Directing skills. And I fell head over heels in love with the track from the first moment I heard it. It still sends shivers through me. This is what great rock n roll is all about. A totally under rated track in my opinion. Live: there are many versions and all are very good. I suppose 1988.

 27. Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding – 1973 – so much has been said about this song, and it has never NOT been in a show ( has it? ), so I almost didn’t include it. But I couldn’t let all that nonsense deny it, its just review. It is a career Master piece. And I’m not quite sure why the singer/songwriter has NOT returned to its attempts ever again in a studio. I think it’s over do personally. What might the world say of a new 8 minute Opus of Rock from Elton John today? Hmmmmm? We can dream can’t we? It is a Career Opus! An FM Rock Radio standard. Equal to anything Pink Floyd ever put down. And for me it’s all about two things….that middle piano bit in the intro, and : “ the roses in your window box have tilted to one side…everything about this house was born to grow and die….you’re a blue bird on a telegraph line…I hope you’re happy now….” It is one of the best band performances on record. A career high point for all involved. Live: I’d say the 2001 tour was the best.

26. Tonight – 1976 – I’m still waiting for one song writer/musician to hand me a track as lovely as this song. It is a career Master Piece. From words, to melody, to arrangement, to piano, to skill level, to emotions, to passion, to Art….it has never, and perhaps will EVER be matched by he or anyone else again. Best live version: 1986 with Johnstone on guitar. Wonderful.A brilliant and total re-working that soared above the clouds. “Just let the curtains close in silence...”. Perhaps the perfect bookend to 1971’s “Tiny Dancer”, sadly.

25. Amy – 1972 - Ok let’s get the trivia out of the way…According to Producer and former personal assistant Stuart Epps, this song lyrically is a joke to Elton and Gus Dudgeon’s wife Sheila. It was her nickname. And apparently, she was not always keen on “Elton” thus the teasing lines ” so if you don’t want me around….and to you I’m an infection…” J….after the album’s release Gus bought her a sports car with that name on the license plate. Stuart now owns that car.They had a love/annoyed relationship I suppose….The Intro: musically , one The best piano bits Elton ever put down. One of the best Band recordings Elton, Nigel, Davey and Dee ever laid down! The song rocks like almost no other in their entire Library! I think it’s better than any rock track on “Tumbleweed”. The Violin solo is great! I can’t be sad when I’m listening to this track! And don’t you ever try to tell me Elton John was just a balladeer! LOL! He needs to re-visit this place so badly. KNOCK KNOCK : T. Bone Burnett…Hello? You listening? You too Taupin and Elton! Rock it or lose it! The song contains some of Elton’s best piano ever recorded.

24. The Ballad of Danny Bailey – 1973 – Oh My! How much do I love this song?!!!! LOL!  I’d jump through tracks upon tracks on my cassette of Yellow Brick Road to hear it again in 1974! To this day it is a phenomenal Hollywoodesque anthem for me. The story line is intriguing, The Bonnie and Clyde aspect riveting…”Now it’s all over Danny Bailey…and the harvest is in…Dillnger’s dead….” The chorus is just brilliant melodically. The opening piano bit and gun drum rim shot perfect! But the strings and the piano….OH MY! OH MY! It is some of the best piano Elton ever put down until the Diving Boards “Ballad of Blind Tom”.For me it’s all about the “Oh, Oh,Oh,Oh,Ohhhh’s OOOOWH’s” and that Machine gun Kelly style piano at the end, which frankly, he NEVER plays enough in the studio!! Ok I had my temper tantrum, LOL! That song is Amazing dude! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for finding it in your soul!Live: 1988 Chicago.

23. Mona Lisa’s and Mad Hatters – 1972 – “Honky Chateau”. Sheer Poetry in Song here! The Cream of the crop when it comes to classics. Again, I could spend an hour talking about each element of the song. But it all comes down to a great match of melody and words. I have sadly tired of the live repeated versions….he doesn’t need to do that, as this list now presents…so I’ll stick to the studio version. Best Live version ever :The Purple shiny outfit, 1972, London England , I think on TV. On any other given day, this song might be much, much higher on my list. It’s perfect Elton! I will add this: the song is added a HUGE sound bed quality due to the brilliance of Davey Johnstone’s mandolin. Not sure Bernie has written a lyric with quite the poetic vision this one has, since?

22. Roy Rogers – 1973 – The very day I held the album, “Yellow Brick Road” in my hands, it was the title, I couldn’t wait to cue up at home on the stereo! And it didn’t let me down!A song that I think sadly gets over looked in the Library of John/Taupin. I find it hard to focus on just what one should write about when it comes to this track…Davey’s brilliant guitar part? The fantastic string arrangement?The bouncy piano?The drums?The backing vocals? They all get A’s! But I think it’s just that the song is the pure essence of what makes John/Taupin so infectious. Melody meets words, and Art is created! It is one of the best tributes to a Legend ever written in song. And for me, it is one of their masterpieces! I will be listening to this song when I’m 70 if I’m still alive and saying: “Turn on the TV shut out the lights, Roy Rogers is riding tonight…IGH ….IGHT!” Live: I think 1977, WembleyPool , for me, or the 1979 tour.

21. Candle In The Wind – 1973 – I’m only referring to the “Yellow Brick Road” track here. I’m not sure if there was ever a more brilliantly arranged and balanced and recorded track in Elton’s career than the time and effort they spent getting this one down. Having listened carefully many times, to even the demo, Elton and Band haven’t worked this hard on a song in forty years! It is just amazing to me how simple each instrument is, how simple each harmony part is, yet it all so perfectly blends into something that sounds like music from Angels. One of his most perfect tracks ever recorded. Hands down! His piano accentuated the air space of the song brilliantly! and they found “The Perfect” sound of Elton’s voice at this stage. A favorite live performance for me was the Duet with Olivia Newton John back in 1980, but also there is a brilliant version from French TV circa 1986/87. I’ve grown weary of it, due to being over played live, which is why it ranks so low.

20. Mansfield – 2001 - Some fans who know me well will already be groaning and saying: of course! But some of those fans are now finally admitting to me, that they over looked it in 2001, when “Songs From The West Coast” came out. I happily did not! In fact, the song actually broke me down in to tears! It was old “Madman”, “Indian Sunset”, “All TheNasties” Elton vocally and arrangement wise. But still very original and new. It was Past meets Present in a very logical and magical way, and it was brilliant. Live:? Any version you can get your hands on from the 2001 tour will do! Lyrically it’s classic story teller Taupin at it again. A little movie in time.Musically , it is a brilliant MATCH to the sounds of 1971, and shoved in the face of any fan ( including yours truly.. J   ) to finally shut them up once and for all! And No matter the pain of all that silly internet crap I posted, back then in 1997 – 2001, every word was worth it to get my hands on this product. I will treasure it and that album forever. Simply gorgeous! And I think this song and album went a long way to returning the magic and passion back to both songwriters. Such an under rated track, for its ending alone!

19. Ticking – 1974 - If this isn’t in every fans top 30 I’ll be surprised! From “Caribou”, and you’ll notice “Don’t Let The Sun…” did not make my list, why? Because every fans  knows “Ticking” is the better song! Say what you will about Elton and “The Band”, when a producer is on their A game, they know, just give him a lyric, put him in a studio, shut up, get out of his way, and presto- MAGIC! The guy is simply awesome, and I could make an argument as singer songwriter’s go…he wins any comparisons you want to draw with any other composers with this one track. You do get that it was recorded virtually in one take…right? Vocals and piano at the same time? Yes I said…same time! The research supports this. I’ll listen sometimes, that fact will pop into my head….and I’ll just start to laugh….The World had no clue, ( back then ) the genius this boy was. The fact that I have not heard this song on FM rock radio in over three decades burns me so much!!!! It is better than almost anything Joel ever recorded, or Springsteen for that matter. Performance wise, no “singer songwriter” before or SINCE has ever matched it’s brilliance on record. NONE! If you can disprove that, by all means try….please! The topic is as relevant today as ever, maybe even more so, sadly. My favorite live performance happened on the UK TV Old Grey Whistle Test….a near match to the studio version, but I’ll also mention a 1993 version in London with Ray Cooper. Melodically perhaps, not as much ear candy as “Someone Saved”, but most certainly musicianship wise, a career milestone. And for Rock N Roll an Untouched Masterpiece. ( and I’m well aware of the Boomtown Rats – “I Don’t Like Mondays”, done ten years after this track! )

18. One More Arrow – 1983 – I think this is autobiographical, perhaps about Taupin’s father? But whatever the meaning, the song is classic Elton John. It is nearly the last time we will ever hear from the falsetto side of John. ( 1986’s Since God Invented Girls was the final song…).Thank God it was….!!! I am sure that on any given day Elton can write four of these things, that’s how good he is ( proof: The Diving Board : Recording session Two! ). But what a melody! It flows like melted gold. “Too Low..” is not my fave album, but it does contain a classic, Captain Fantastic Ballad. Live, it never quite had the magic….I wonder if it was stepped down a key or two, how Modern Elton would handle it now, still think, its melody is so strong it would shine. Simply lovely!

17. It’s Getting Dark In Here – 2004 - From the first notes, I knew it was a classic! One of Elton’s best vocals in decades. The opening backing vocals just automatically set the tone. I don’t get how this never saw release as a single! It is as classic as “Harmony” ever was. And you’ll take note it made my list and “Harmony” did not! Piano solo is fantastic . The build-up end is classic Elton! String synth arrangement is understated but works. Classic Taupin, “I’m scared of strangers on the street, world so ugly I can’t breathe, Moon so spooky I’m close to tears…Ive been handed a curse and a blessing, My life’s been stripped down to the wire…” – one of my all-time Taupin lyrics! I want this song live…someday….Please? With a cherry on top?

16. Blues For Baby and Me – 1972 -  Structurally it’s classic Elton John, Bernie Taupin. We got a lot of these back in the day, “Michelle’s Song”, “Tiny Dancer”, “High Flying Bird”, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, “Cold As Christmas”, there’s even a fairly unknown one written for Kiki Dee in 1973 entitled, “Lonnie and Josie”. I honestly love them all! But Blues holds me like few others, the words….”I saw your hands tremblin’ you’re eyes opened in surprise…”, I’ve thought long and hard on this track, and I will go out on a limb and suggest that maybe, “Maybe” it’s auto-biographical…another “Tiny Dancer” as it were. Lyricist meets fan, and they take off on a tour bus….upsetting her father. ? Am I right? I don’t know but it’s the perfect song of the teenager in all us 70’s children. The string arrangement by Buckmaster is lovely, and again….why hasn’t this song been selected for those orchestral concerts…do we really need “Madman” every time? But I think what makes this song work so well musically is the balance of piano, acoustic guitar, and sitar. And that vocal, kick ass ending….God I miss those endings Elton! How you’d ramp it up at the end of a song and let your soul soar! Just a great 1972 era slice of Pop music. Lyrically and Musically very reminiscent of Lobo’s “Me and You and a Dog Named Booh”, and Simon and Garfunkle’s “America”. ( “Kathy I said, as we boarded a greyhound to Pittsburgh…”).

15. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – 1973 - Perhaps his most important Pop song. I never tire of it. Maybe live I might, but when I hear it on the radio, I always reach for the dial to crank it up. It’s an instant time machine for me. 1973, October….I’m in the Vets office, bathing a St. Bernard, the song comes on I stop what I’m doing, the Veterinarian and I listen…we both agree  “ A classic!”. Bernie and Elton were at the top of their songwriting game back then…Titles blitzed and blazed from the pen or keys of Taupin, and this was one of their best. Today It reads as a nasty letter to Elton, ( I think, or Maxine  )….So when are “YOU” gonna come down? When are going to land…? ( Jerk! LOL! ) I should have stayed on the farm……( I’m fed up with this nonsense…)…But for me, it’s all about the ( Blue – uwooohs ), the horny back toads, the woods, It’s like the perfect teenage boy song. Where are we? Where are we headed? Is this what I want? Remember how simple childhood was? I love the innocence lost, quality of the track. Del Newman’s arrangement is one of the best in Pop music, only ( perhaps ) bested by “Rocket Man”. Newman was well known having arranged remarkable albums for Cat Stevens and Harry Nilsson in 1972. Do you know how many studio engineers were influenced by this track?!!!!!!!!!!!!! Too many think of this song as “JUST” another pop ballad. But I see it in the league of “Let It Be” and “The Long and Winding Road”, wistful, hymn-like and lovely. Are there any greater rock n roll ballads? If you say “Free Bird” I’m outta here!!!!!!!!!!

14. I’ve Seen That Movie Too – 1973 - 13 and 14 are kind of interchangeable. Hard for me to distinguish one or the other.Taupin’s images and word play are brilliant. Elton’s vocals superb. Melody is wonderfully playful, jazzy…blues. This is a style that befits Elton ( The Diving Board, My Elusive Drug, This Train…). Every now and again, I wonder if this track deserves to be placed much higher. It is most certainly top 20 John/Taupin. The songs arrangement is superb! One of the best of his entire career.Johnstone’s brilliant, superb, backwards electric guitar plows through the strings.  I’ve never understood, why not do this track with the orchestra? I may be under rating this track, it is Most certainly one of their best.

13.Mellow –1972 - Vocally brilliant! Electric violin solo, ( done in one take ), one of the best solo’s ever laid down in a studio for Elton….My gosh, I used to walk for miles with this track playing in my head and singing to it. The perfect country ballad, for a guy growing up in the country. It’s a guy’s “Guy” song. A fantastic track. And I believe inspired by Taupin’s Southern vacation/Honey-moon in America ( circa 1971 ), with Maxine from the year before. Piano is superb, “ don’t forget the beer….Ohhhh, my little Dear,rrrrunhhhh…it helps to sew the mellow seed….”

12. High Flying Bird –1972 - I was beside myself with joy the day I heard it would be showcased at his Birthday Concert in New York. The song was admittedly forgotten by Elton, and rediscovered.It should have been a single in 1972. It was a travesty that “Daniel” surpassed it. But thanks to FM rock radio in the 70’s, they refused to let it disappear. The song has a worldwide fan base, that few of John’s hits have such allegiance too, as they do with this song. The problem back in those days, every other song was a classic by these guys, so some had to get kicked under the bus, sadly. So under rated!

11. Amoreena – 1971 - Both lyricist and songwriter love “Tumbleweed”, so why have we not heard this track in concert in over four decades? I have one thought on this: Is it possible Elton John cannot funk it, rock it, soul it, with such vigor, energy, pulse, magnetism, and verve today? Hmmm, I’ve pondered this. It is for me the “ONE” singular track, I’d use against him and T. Bone Burnett if I were a party to their recent recordings. Not one producer since Gus Dudgeon has gotten Elton to rock like this. If anyone ever says to me , well Billy Joel rocks better, I haul this out, and when it’s done..I say…”You were saying?” J! If ever a song had muscle, this one is it! The piano is pulsing and riveting. It is one of the best studio recordings of Elton, Dee and Nigel from those early days. A tribute to Leon Russell’s Delta Lady, yet it even out rocks Leon! Everyone loves the track, I just don’t get the deal that it’s been so terribly forgotten by the songwriters themselves?It deserves so much better. And mops the floor up when put against Burn Down The Mission. As far as I’m aware, live it was a hardship for the singer to stay on pitch, maybe due to speaker balances and noise levels. There is a fantastic live version out there from the BBC in 1969.

The Top Ten!

10. Levon – 1971 - One of the most Cinematic Hollywood style vignettes, Taupin ever wrote. Loosely based on the moment of April 8, 1966, when Time Magazine’s cover read “ God Is Dead”. That cover was recently listed in the top ten of the Most Important and shocking Cultural magazine covers of the World. Hints at the Nietzsche inspired trend of the 1960’s Theologians to write God out of the field of Theology. The Characters name also seems to be a bow to Levon Helm of the band. That magazine cover event became relevant again in 1970 when The New York Newspaper The New York Times published a full page ad of similar question.  Musically, the song soars! It is one of the most powerful ballads in rock music. I will never forget the second I heard it for the first time on radio. I had to buy it immediately!.

9. Talking Old Soldiers –1971 - First I stunned myself, by placing this track behind its brother, “Oceans Away”. That being said, in 1995 in Columbus Ohio, I was able to thank Elton for performing Soldiers live in 1993 with Ray Cooper. I said then: “It has always been one of my all time favorite songs by you. Your vocals on that track were and are stunning! It sends shivers through me. “He smiled and admitted it was also one of his personal favorite songs. Let me say this, choosing a top ten, of a man of this skill is nearly an impossible task. Given this track alone, on any given other day, this might be my favorite number one. Tastes change. But for now, we’ll go with it as number 9. It still is one of the best vocals the man ever tracked in any studio ever! An amazing vocal, unmatched by any rocker since! You feel every ounce of the loneliness and pain. Dramatic it is, heart-felt….amazingly real! What else do you need but Elton’s voice and a bit of piano?

8. Oceans Away –2013 - From the moment I heard this song, and those opening majestic piano notes…I knew it was “Old-Classic” Elton again! I haven’t stopped playing it since September 2013. It plays every day in my truck. In my opinion it’s one of the best ballads of all time from Elton and Bernie. And the song contains one of the best lyrically lines of Taupin’s career: “They bend like trees in winter, those shuffling old gray lions…” An Elegant and lovely tribute to World War Vets.I have heard fans don’t like this track, Elton, I will have died and gone to heaven if, for the rest of your career you just write songs like this! Absolutely 100 percent beautiful!

7. Rocket Man –1972 - Studio version is superb. Dudgeon’s mastery at recording, balances of instruments vs vocals, arrangement skills, make this track a killer pop cut. It is sooooo under rated in my opinion. One of the GREATEST Pop/Rock Tracks of all time.A signature piece and concert staple.Live I have ONLY one request: I wish “The Band” would go back, sit in a room and re-listen to it, to try to capture its real beauty both instrumentally and vocally. They’re “Oceans Away” from the original studio version today. 1999 Chicago is one of my favorite live performances, but also1986 LA.

6. Skyline Pigeon –1974 - I’m no fan of the Empty Sky version, however, the Here and There Live version  from 1974, is breathtakingly beautiful.  The best, if not…One of his best solo versions ever, live.It has the same naive quality that so riveted me to it, the day I first heard it in 1972 at a Diner. I wasn’t interested in “Daniel” the A side, but I don’t know how many quarters I stuck in that corner jukebox, that day, to play the B side…Pigeon, over and over! Just a lovely, haunting song.Very much a hymn. Has a timeless quality to it. And I was sobbing during the Ryan White funeral performance, but so proud of him, as was Ryan’s Mom ( you can see it in her face ), when Elton kicks in such a heartfelt ending.

The Top Five !

5. Chameleon –1976 - It’s inclusion in my top ten probably shocked a few fans. I can’t go very long without hauling it out. It’s such an under rated track! One of the team’s best ballads ever. The piano part is brilliant! And only one word comes to mind to review it : Gorgeous! It’s always a track I listen ton on a bright blue sky day, a breath of fresh air!

4. Where To Now St. Peter? –1971 - My all-time favorite Taupin lyric, mixed with a gorgeous sweeping melody. And that piano part is one of his all time classics.  “I took myself a blue canoe and  I floated like a leaf, Dazzling, dancing half-enchanted, in my Merlin sleep”. In my opinion it is Taupin’s best lyric phrase – ever! Even the demo is killer! Finally I'd like to add something here about the songs brilliant arrangement and balance. Much is, can, and will always be said about Elton's phenominal piano work on the track, probably borrowed by Coldplay for "Clocks" and even by himself for Peach Tree Road's "Too Many Tears"; But what I think needs to be spotlighted is the incredible guitar work through out. Caleb Quaye's remarkable talents shine like a diamond. The piano breaks, his guitar slides right in! Filling the empty spaces, decorating the mood. When needed, Quaye's guitar work, is an accent of artistic measure, self-control, skill, technique and immaculate balance. It is used effectively. and dramatically. Always as a support and a tool to move the intricacies of piano melody, Elton vocals, and emotion forward. I consider that track, "Can I Put You On" and "Ballad Of A Well Known Gun" to glow because of Caleby Quayes guitar mastery. He has been long over do a few compliments. And I can never listen to this track or those others without always marveling at his gifts. He was instrumentally the perfect match to Elton John in those eaerly days. And "Peter" demonstrates this marvelously! Oddly the story line of the song seems closely linked to one by Author Ambrose Bierce, and his short story about a soldier in the Civil War. The story is called, "Occurence at Owl Creek". The story and the song share images of a soldier who is shot, he is drifting, in a canoe/row boat, he is invisible, he does not realize he is dead, he continues to drift. In the late 1990's, the country group Blue Mountain recorded a tribute song to this song, called "Blue Canoe". In  July, 2007 Ann Wilson, of Heart released a duet with Elton for her solo album, "Hope and Glory". Elton's vocals on this track have a harder edge. He's older, the higher more subtle voice has been replaced with a more husky reverence. One of the lyrical puzzlers is the time and place of the song. Is this the Vietnam or the Civil War era? The Blue Canoe seems to make one think of earlier times, The Blue and Gray. The song's title possibly refers to an old Church in Owmby-By-Spital, Lincolnshire, England. Just up the road from Taupin's Maltkin Farm. It has been said that as a teenage boy, Taupin used to climb up the church bell tower and look out over the village at sunset. The Church is called "St. Peter's and Saint Paul's". Maybe the lyric is a memory reference. The Church was to have also been the inspiration for the lyrics to "Skyline Pigeon".

3. Sixty Years On –1970 - Only two versions stand out for me, both are live, 11/17/70 and Edinboro, 1976. I am speaking of the live version 11/17/70 here. “The drums was talkin’, the piano was walkin’”,  as Little Richard once said. Powerfully dramatic! Riveting performance. I recall a wonderful review of a 1970 concert in NY at Carnegie Hall, where a critic said: “And as the piano and drums reached a great crescendo on the last dramatic lines of the song…..not a word was spoken….in the silenced audience…”

2. Someone Saved My Life Tonight – 1975 - Powerful vocals, powerful words, powerful melody, powerful piano. Do we need anything more? Best live version: 1995 Rio.

1. Your Song – 1970 - near perfect. The quintessential EJ song. The perfect love ballad, and the equal of the Beatles “Yesterday”. A sign of a good song is its staying power, and there are so many good live versions of this track….My favorites: 1986, Prince’s Trust Gala, Wembley with pony tail, 1986/87, solo on Good Morning America ( just after vocal operation, does a more lovely version exist? ). The song that started it all for me personally. I never tire of it. God it’s so simple, and Paul Smith on Facebook recently asked all the fans if you could have written one song in your life what would it be from Elton, Elton, I get it…you chose Leon Russell’s “Song For You”, but I’d choose your tribute to that song, “It may be quite simple but….How wonderful life while you’re in the world…”