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Top 10 Elton John Songs


James

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  • 2 months later...

The Gilbert O'Sullivan thread James started led me to a YouTube duet (from 1973) of "Alone Again (Naturally)" by Gilbert and Elton. That vid led me to another I'd never seen—Elton and band doing "Step Into Christmas." I don't love this song, but it's not bad—sort of a B-/C+ holiday tune for me. However, the lip-synced video is cool because it's got Elton's band appearing with him—minus Ray Cooper, who's replaced for the performance by Bernie Taupin. The link to that video is below. 

The bigger thing is... think about the context. The Gilbert O'Sullivan TV show that featured both "Alone Again" and "Step Into Christmas" was aired in December 1973. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say Elton was at the absolute top of his game at that juncture.

The year 1973 saw him release both Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player AND Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. And the month after the video, in January 1974, he and his band recorded Caribou in nine days. Two Januarys earlier, in 1972, he recorded Honky Chateau.

So think about that: In the space of two calendar years, Elton recorded Honky Chateau... Don't Shoot Me... Goodbye Yellow Brick Road... and Caribou. Not bad, although if you go to the Wikipedia page on Caribou, you'll see that that album wasn't well-loved by critics at the time—or by producer Gus Dudgeon, who trashed the songs, lyrics, playing, and even liner notes. But I like it. 

Anyway, I thought it was worth pointing out that the Elton you see in this video was an unstoppable music force at that moment. 

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1.I guess that's why they call it the blues 2.I'm still standing 3.Crocodile rock 4.Yellow Brick road 5.Don't go breaking my heart 6.Bennie and the jets 7.Sad songs 8.Rocket man 9. Island girls 10. Philadelphia freedom 

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Yeah LC, he put out 11 (12 if you count Friends which I'm not familiar with)...stellar albums between 1969 and 1976, on which he wrote virtually all the music. In the running for greatest music output/segment of time ...ever. During that time he also wrote and recorded non album singles that were massive hits in P Freedom and Don't Go Breaking My Heart. And for my tastes, he did the best versions of Pinball W and Lucy in the sky.. of them all...during those 7 years.

Wow!!...to the 3rd power.

 

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  • 9 months later...

The Greatest Discovery is about Bernie Taupin's discovery of his new born  brother.  You maybe know that. I recently sent the song  to my niece who just had a little boy.. so the song was for the benefit of his big sister. And yes, that is a great album. His little unknown gems, like Eric, are sometimes the ones I'm attracted to the most.

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On 2/21/2021 at 12:20 AM, James said:

Re: the live album from Australia with the orchestra...in the early 90s I had been out of music purchasing mode for over a decade, when a guy I did a lot of business with learned I (like him) was a huge Elton John fan, so he bought me that live album, which I didn't even know existed as I was out of the loop. I played the heck out of it, as it truly was one of the best live albums I had/have ever heard. Though I'd always owned the "Elton John" studio album, I had not listened to it much as I'd never gotten into it. But like you LC, the Australia album awakened me for the first time to the greatness of some of those songs, especially "The greatest discovery" and "I need you to turn to".

Another parallel story in our music lives from back in the day!

My last comment was meant for this post by James in 2021

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Something we don't get into here - maybe cuz I'm one of the few who loves how Elton does this genre - is how he can rock the funk music, ie: "Bite your lip....", "Grow some funk of your own", certain moments on Rock of the Westies, "Benny & The Jets"...and for me one of his greatest 60 seconds of music, the final minute of "Yell Help..." from Rock of the Westies.

He put out some funk duds, like Don Henley did, but when they were on in this genre, they were on!

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We are the on the same page James re his funky music.  I know all of those songs as I have ALL of his albums. YELL HELP made me laugh. I thought it was so amusing always. And add Patti LaBelle's backing vocals for more fun. It's actually a medley of three songs Yell Help/ Wednesday Night/Ugly. All three songs sung  separately and then at the very end they mesh them all together. It's not for everybody I would say but for entertainment purposes only. James, you don't have YouTube?

youtu.be/oEwW9i40M1s

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On 2/6/2022 at 1:26 AM, LC said:

Bump for Rhonda and… for Pat, so he can file a review of Elton’s Chicago show.

Show was just incredible including original members Nigel Olson and Davey Johnston ( two musicians who have previously played with EC ) along with long time cohort Ray Cooper. It’s a shame that Elton is calling it a career because his voice still sounds strong enough to go 20 more years and his piano playing is as always superb, a huge influence on me when I was a teenager playing style wise. Anyone who has the opportunity to catch this tour needs to. 
 

I think the amazing thing about EJ is he didn’t do three of my favorite songs per my 02/21 list above  and yet I still left the concert more than satisfied because he has such an amazing catalog and let’s face it, you can’t do them all or it would be a five hour show! 
 

highlights for me, without question,  had to be the inclusion of “funeral for a friend” which was tremendous, the always personable “your song”, his end encore tune “ goodbye yellow brick Road“ and a rocking  pre-encore set closer “saturday night’s alright for fighting”

I had seen him I believe five times before this, but Elton still rocks with the best of them and yet when he’s alone at the piano you still feel like you’re sitting in the living room with him singing directly to you.

if this is indeed his final tour, he is going out just as fantastic as he was the first time I saw him back in the 70s.

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Pat.. sounds almost identical to the performance in Saskatoon in October 2019. When he did Your Song as an encore, I found that to be very emotional. How was he maneuvering on stage? Just wondering if he actually got up from the piano bench to walk around the stage to do his waving.

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3 hours ago, Rhonda B said:

Pat.. sounds almost identical to the performance in Saskatoon in October 2019. When he did Your Song as an encore, I found that to be very emotional. How was he maneuvering on stage? Just wondering if he actually got up from the piano bench to walk around the stage to do his waving.

He was moving very gingerly. He got up from the piano a couple of times just to take a bow and he moved very slow and a friend of mine who had seats in the front row swears that he was using a cane backstage. When he did the song “cold heart” (Radio duet with Dua Lipa) he just sat on the piano bench and held the microphone and sang live while pre-recorded music was piped in. He was also very emotional. When he said this will be his final time in Chicago his voice actually cracked a little bit and you could tell he was crying. He rattled off some of the places he’s played like Wrigley Field, Chicago stadium, the United Center, etc.  He also thanked a local fan who had seen him 198 times(!!!!) since 1976. ( I thought me seeing Paul McCartney 22 times since 1976 was alot! Lol)

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Did one of you say he recently had hip surgery? That would certainly account for the "gingerly" gait. Hope he takes it easy and builds up some strength... Elton is a treasure. You've pushed him back into heavy rotation for me.

 

 

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Yes LC  he recently had hip replacement surgery in the fall of 2021 after a fall left him barely able to walk. In 2017 he had surgery for prostate cancer and after that he also was having trouble walking. So it's been a long struggle for him.

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Good for Elton for getting back on the road in spite of all that! Impressive!
 

You know Elton’s work so well—can you take the challenge of listing your 10 favorite songs and five favorite albums? It entertains us! Of course, it’s a pretty impossible task, as you may have noticed by the way my list expanded to 30…. Lol

In other words, none of us make lists pretending they’re meant to be the final word. It’s nice to get the preferences of others, because it often turns us onto songs we overlooked.

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On 11/26/2019 at 10:25 AM, James said:

Most here like Elton and are familiar with a good chunk of his work. Of those songs you are familiar with, name your top 10 songs of his:

Mine:

1. Skyline Pigeon
2. Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding
3. Someone Saved My Life Tonight
4. We All Fall in Love Sometimes / Curtains
5. Where to Now St. Peter
6. Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
7. Grow Some Funk of Your Own
8.. Bitter Fingers
9. One Horse Town
10. High Flying Bird

Honorable Mention: The Greatest Discovery, Saturday Night´s All Right for Fighting

 

 

Ok, here's today's top 10 for me:

1. Skyline Pigeon 

2. Someone Saved My Life Tonight - moves up from #3 to #2

2. Funeral For a Friend / Love lies bleeding - down from #2 to #3 

4. We all fall in love sometimes / Curtains - holds at #4 

5. Blues for baby and me - leaps from off the list to #5 ! 

6. Tonight - another big leap, not sure how it didn't make my original list 

7. Grow some funk of your own - holds at #7, best opening concert number (Cleveland, Richfield Coliseum, end of summer 1976 )... I've ever seen. 

8. High Flying Bird - up from #10, so underrated as nobody ever talks about this gem. 

9. Mona Lisa's and Mad Hatters - down from #6 but shouldn't be. Could be his best. 

10. Where to now St. Peter - down from #5...a genius melody with depth, another underrated beauty.

Honorable mentions: Bite your lip, One Horse Town and Bitter Fingers (both moved off list but shouldn't have ), Meal Ticket (one of his best rockers of his entire catalog, which is saying a ton), Saturday Night's all right for fighting, Bullet in Robert Ford, Greatest Discovery, Come to Valhalla, Salvation ( maybe my true favorite from Honky Chateau even though Mona Lisas.... is rated higher on my list ), Teacher I need you (one of the best pop songs ever), Levon, Don't let the sun go down on me, Yell help Medley, Chameleon ( on a certain sentimental level it could be my fave of his ), Empty Garden ( a return to his 70s greatness for one song ).

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, LC said:

 

You know Elton’s work so well—can you take the challenge of listing your 10 favorite songs and five favorite albums? It entertains us! Of course, it’s a pretty impossible task, as you may have noticed by the way my list expanded to 30…. Lol

I've totally been thinking about when I will do that.  My question for you all would be.. what qualifies it for you as a favourite song? For me it's so different for each one.. maybe I love the chords or  I love playing it on the piano or I love singing and playing it or maybe I just want to hear it play in the background or sing out a great chorus. Sometimes I call it my favourite song because I love the challenge of figuring out difficult Melodies and chords as I do with Eric's.   But the most identifying  factor for me would be how it affects me personally and emotionally. So that's going to mean it's all his sad songs. It's the same with Eric's. I'll get it done and post it thanks for the challenge.

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53 minutes ago, Rhonda B said:

I've totally been thinking about when I will do that.  My question for you all would be.. what qualifies it for you as a favourite song? For me it's so different for each one.. maybe I love the chords or  I love playing it on the piano or I love singing and playing it or maybe I just want to hear it play in the background or sing out a great chorus. Sometimes I call it my favourite song because I love the challenge of figuring out difficult Melodies and chords as I do with Eric's.   But the most identifying  factor for me would be how it affects me personally and emotionally. So that's going to mean it's all his sad songs. It's the same with Eric's. I'll get it done and post it thanks for the challenge.

I think anything and everything you say above should feed into it. For all of us, the bottom line might be: Which 10 move us the most... and would be the first 10 we'd want to hear when playlisting... and the last 10 we'd ever want to give up? 

Caveat: Moods and circumstances and changing tastes and new discoveries mean that no list like this is ever final. So, we pop in and change.... 

Which brings me to James' updated list: Perfect example. James, "Blues for Baby and Me" must be rolling around your head a lot, so I find that interesting. The thing I love about your Elton list(s) speaks to something I said earlier in this thread—we love doing these lists because they put different choices in front of us. Your list is very cool because you go deep and cite songs I wouldn't' have thought about... but which prompt me to go and listen. Like "Skyline Pigeon."

Craig's list is like that too—he got into some latter-day Elton that I have avoided, like Peachtree Road (2004). Quite good, even if it didn't knock some of my old favorites off the list.

To that end, I feel like I haven't given EJ's post-heyday (1970s) material enough love. Maybe I'm just too comfortable with the Elton/Bernie Taupin team. I don't think there's much on my list of 30 with lyrics beyond Taupin. Well, The Fox was one of the first post-Taupin, and I love that one. But overall, there may be something about Taupin's words that brings out something in Elton's music that works for me. 

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