I was never much of a fan of Elton.I always found him about as subtle as a kick in the gut.But who am I to quip?
The guy has sold a zillion records, and has been around since the dawn of man, so he’s obviously doing something right.
I won’t argue with that; he was just never my cuppa.
But while driving to Kilkenny on a recent tour with Jolie Holland, she was being the Spotify DJ, picking out songs for the long drive.
She played a lot of stuff that was familiar, but also introduced me to some of the best music that I had never heard of before.
My eyebrow raised whence asked if I liked the song, ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’.
Elton didn’t exactly fit in with the mood of the songs she’d been playing.
But when she hit play, it was not the voice of Elton, but that of Amy Annelle.
The lo-fi acoustic recording was drowned in tape hiss, which layered extra thick when her majestic harmony vocal overdubs kicked in.
It sounds like she recorded it all in a haunted attic on a broken four-track.
I was stunned at the beauty of her voice, and the song. It made me hear it in a whole new light, and I have recently come to appreciate the songs of Elton 100 times more.
It just took someone else singing his songs for me to realise how good they are.
Along the drive, I was also introduced to the driving game ‘Radio Baseball’.
A fun game to play on those long drives.
It’s basically the rules of baseball, but transferred to musical knowledge in exchange for whacking balls.
Whoever is serving scans the radio channels until a song comes on.
Whoever is hitting has to name the artist (first base), the song (second base), the album it’s from (third base) and the year it was released (home run).
It’s a great game to play when there are plenty of cool radio stations playing plenty of cool songs.
But not so great when you are on an Irish country road, and the only station you can pick up is the classical channel.
But back to Elton.
While down a recent rabbit hole, I discovered that in his pre-fame days, he was a session musician.
He was often asked by record labels to demo the songs of songwriters to give to other artists for consideration to perform.
Among the songwriters he covered was Nick Drake.
It’s hard to imagine Elton singing a Nick Drake tune, but he apparently demo’d a full album’s worth of his songs in 1970.
Some of the recordings are out there on the web if you care enough to search.
I found this an interesting little sidetone, and had a listen to his version of ‘Saturday Sun’, but quickly got out of the rabbit hole soon after.
I had heard enough.
And as many of you probably already know, but a good little titbit of info for the next pub quiz, his real name isn’t Elton John, but Reginald Kenneth Dwight.
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