Elton John recently announced he would be retiring from live performances. We’ll see. In the meantime, here is a list of my favorite songs of his. Remember: this is not a “greatest hits” list; it’s my personal list. Yours is certain to be different.
I had trouble narrowing it down to ten (as would anyone), but here we go. I’ll probably change my mind tomorrow and say “I should have included “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” or “Ballad of a Well Known Gun” or “Big Dipper”…
He really has some great songs, doesn’t he? Imagine how much better they would be if he had someone who could write decent lyrics.
In alphabetical order:
Better Off Dead: I admit I like the quirkier stuff. It’s why I like Sparks and Oingo Boingo. This is quite clever and complicated and different and that’s why it interests me.
Ego: This was a single that I quite enjoyed but it didn’t do well and pretty much disappeared and never was on any album.
Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding: This magnificent opening to Elton’s best album just builds wonderfully and I can imagine it must have been a very powerful live performance.
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: This is the title song from his best album. I love the way it is produced.
Honky Cat: How can you not enjoy this? It’s just fun and Elton’s piano playing is perfect.
Legal Boys: I guess this one is kind of like “Better off Dead” in structure and the lyrics are a lot better than most of his stuff.
Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters: One of the best ballads, although the reason rose trees never grow in New York city is because there is no such thing as a rose tree, Bernie.
Sick City: This was a B side from the “Caribou” sessions, although it certainly is good enough to have been an A side or on the album. It might have been the lyrics, which the record label demanded he censor. “Then she said ‘how about a blow down'” probably weren’t the original words. (A later song called “Screw You” had to be renamed “Young Man’s Blues.”)
The Bitch is Back: I remember when this came out and the radio stations wouldn’t say the name. A very exciting and well-produced song.
Tiny Dancer: Come on, who doesn’t sing along with this when it comes on? Hold me closer, Tony Danza….