Elton John

Elton John

MCA Records, 1970

REVIEW BY: Hansen Olson

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/10/1997

"Hey...Could I walk you to art class?"

"I suppose."

Her green eyes looked up at me and my whole world shrank to that moment. Every second was precious. Every step was agony. Should I try to hold her hand? What did "I suppose" mean? Was I sweating through my shirt? There was nothing more precious to me than to see her smile. Her voice was more beautiful than any music I'd ever heard. She was my blonde-haired goddess. I was so close, day after day, yet so far away? What could I do?

At night, I would go home and put on the soundtrack to my life. "It's a little bit funny, this feelin' inside," Elton would sing and I would be lost in a fantasy of how it could be if only I were as cool as he was. Song after song about lost love, first love, precious love. If only I could get her to see how I felt. I gave her the lyrics in a note I slipped into her locker. It was the finest poetry I'd ever heard. She never even acknowledged the note.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The years go by and illusions are trampled one by one. The 15-year-old girl I was so much in love with turned out to be a lesbian. I would have had a better chance with Elton John than I did with her! And the music of that first American album? In part, it too was an illusion; a sappy, romantic attempt at radio success. Of course, it worked. Teenagers everywhere were struck by the simplicity of "Your Song" and moved by the words. It sold.

So, how do the songs hold up after all these years? First of all, there is no denying that Elton John can play the piano. He rocks as hard as Jerry Lee Lewis on a prissy day in tunes like "Take Me To the Pilot" (whatever that means) and "Border Song". His band does not stand out as much as cause Elton and the words of Bernie Taupin to stand out. They are servants to the virtuousity of the singer-songwriter team. Yet, more than anything else, its Elton's voice that carries this album. From a croon to a yowl in half a measure, Elton controls emotions by sheer musculature.

Stand-out tracks, even to this day, include: "I Need You To Turn To" -- a short-but-sweet ballad that evokes loneliness by candlelight at the end of an empty day and "First Episode at Hienton" -- a story of first sex that goes over the top. One line reads, "I am who I am, you are who you are ... Now Valerie's a woman.." Rod McKuen, move over.

Yes, it's ridiculous. Yes, it makes my teeth hurt. But, why is it that I can listen to this album after 27 years and remember exactly what it was like to be 15 and in love? Song after song, year after year, Elton John and Bernie Taupin have provided more guilty pleasures and prompted more mood changes in me than almost any other artists. That, my friends, is a gift!

Rating: B+

User Rating: A-


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© 1997 Hansen Olson and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of MCA Records, and is used for informational purposes only.