From the first introductory bass note, it immediately transports the listener. There is an ethereal quality to the song on every level. Elton’s tender, expressive vocal is invested from the start, and his phrasing imparts the depth of anguished frailty in Taupin’s lovesick lyrics. Producer Gus Dudgeon delivers perhaps, his greatest single-song production work on an Elton John song, creating a complete sound experience where every instrument, every sound makes a lasting statement. Another example of a potentially major hit song that never had its chance to enchant the masses. Drummer Nigel Olsson excels here, with his unique drum sound and style punctuating the song’s emotional turmoil. The harmonies here, featuring Olsson, Davey Johnstone, and Dee Murray are otherworldly, and afterward became a staple of the classic “Elton John sound.” Pretty close to perfect.
Best lyric: “You never closed your eyes at night and learned to love daylight, instead you moved away.”
Best lyric: “Burn up the highway, but before you run, you gotta love someone.”
Best lyric: “From the end of the world to your town”
Best lyric: “Nine times out of ten, I see the storm approaching long before the rain starts falling.”
Best lyric: “We wrote it and I played it, something happened, it’s so strange this feeling”
Elton can rock with the best of them, but it’s the ballad that’s his greatest strength. And in terms of dramatic, soaring Elton John ballads, there are few as strong, illuminating and truly honest as this confessional. Sprinkled with religious references and self-examination, Taupin subtly confronts Elton’s new sobriety and rejuvenated outlook on life while exorcising his own personal demons to cleanse his soul and spirit. Elton’s singing and piano-playing is strong and assured, giving the song a transcending power and peace. Taupin documents many recent tumultuous episodes (“drunken nights in dark hotels,” “where sex and love no longer gel,”) as well as life-affirming moments (“in the instant that you love someone,” “when stars collide like you and I”), which makes this one of their most personal and poetic statements. It’s all I ever needed.
Best lyric: “For each man in his time is Cain, until he walks along the beach, and sees his future in the water, a long lost heart within his reach.”
Best lyric: “And the red sun sinks at last into the hills of gold, and peace to this young warrior comes with a bullet hole”
The senseless murder of John Lennon in New York in December, 1980, shocked the world and left a musical and artistic void in the world that remains to this day. As a cathartic exercise to fully digest this piercing reality, Taupin penned a tasteful tribute to Lennon, likening him to a attentive, concerned gardener working to seed the word with peace and love. As a fan of Lennon, this song touched me back in 1982 when the wound was still fresh, and 32 years later, it still retains its power and comfort. The cold open of Elton solemnly asking, “What happened here, as the New York sunset disappeared?” remains a chilling reminder of the actual event and all the feelings of outrage, sadness, and communal grief. Thankfully, Elton has resurrected this impassioned homage in his latest Las Vegas show to remind people of this neglected treasure, celebrate their friendship, and honor this irreplaceable force. It’s impossible to imagine the world without him.
Best lyric: “Tell me how, you know now, the ways and means of getting in, underneath my skin”
Best lyric: “There’s a North in us all, but my North can’t hold me anymore”
Best lyric: “Oh, honey when you knocked on my door, ooh I gave you my key”
Best lyric: “I want you to be my acrobat, I want you to be my lover, oh, there are others, and I’ve known quite a few”
Best lyric: “So go ahead, and chase the wind, and if someday you fold your wings, I’ll be the next you never made, if not, so sad the renegade.”
Best lyric: “But you’re harder than nails, no skinny old tack, you’re still sharp as a razor, and I like you like that”