Elton John

It’s the Rocket Man’s birthday – a very Happy Birthday to him – so what better excuse do you need to play some of his songs tonight? There are only, oh, about 500 of them to choose from.

Three questions first:

1. Which of his songs are your favourites?

2. Did you know that our very own David plays guitar on ‘Understanding Women’ from Elton’s 1990 album, The One? (They also appear together on the 2005 charity cover of the Buzzcocks’ ‘Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)?’, in tribute to the late, great John Peel.

3. Is anyone else thinking that “Reg Dwight” wouldn’t look or sound at all out of place in the present UK Top 40 singles chart, and no doubt other national charts too, alongside the Brunos, Ollys and Calvins?

Just as Syd Barrett did, with Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, inspiration was taken from jazz saxophonist Elton Dean and singer-guitarist Long John Baldry when it was decided by a young Reginald that a more catchy name was needed to succeed in show business.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

46 thoughts on “Elton John”

  1. Happy Birthday Elton John!

    Speaking of Syd, here’s a poem I wrote that brought him to mind:

    “It is all about terms and or measures
    things that are used to gauge inner pleasure
    something that cannot be shared in the open
    without a price in deep fear centered
    rather then keeping a sense of what may be
    social and or together”

  2. Thanks for this ‘birthday’ get out of jail card FEd. An A-Z of rap was never an option for me, despite yesterday’s pleas in the chatroom.

    Enjoy, Irregulars…

    Are You Ready For Love
    Blue Eyes
    Can You Feel The Love Tonight
    Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
    Elderberry Wine
    Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
    Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
    Healing Hands
    I Guess Why That’s They Call It The Blues
    Just Like Belgium
    Kiss The Bride
    Little Jeannie
    Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
    Nobody Wins
    Original Sin
    Part Time Love
    (All) Quiet On The Western Front
    Rocket Man
    Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
    Tiny Dancer
    Understanding Women
    (No) Valentines
    Who Wears These Shoes
    (e)Xpressing Yourself
    Your Song
    (Pinball Wi)Z(ard)

    Happy Birthday Reg.

    He was due to be the opening act at the new Leeds Arena until ‘the Boss’ usurped him.

    After compiling this A-Z I was sorely tempted to go and see him there, (as it’s just down the road from me, albeit 8 miles away) but I can’t justify shelling out £78 plus the obscene booking fees.

    1. It’s a lot to shell out.

      Hope you’ve had a Happy Birthday, Ken. Caught you just in time.

      (Quite right about the A to Z of good rap songs, by the way. I’d be amazed if anyone here could produce such a thing without a combination of cheating and lying.)

  3. Happy (belated) Birthday Sir Elton – wishing you many more.

    Very dated I know, but my favourite by far is Tiny Dancer, followed by Daniel and Rocket Man. Crocodile Rock was fun. Hubby’s favourites are The Last Song and Sacrifice.

    Had no idea David collaborated with Elton John!! Where else could I learn something like that except here (unless I owned the album/CD and read the liner notes)? 🙂 I remember Understanding Women and it reminded me a lot of Enigma (their first concept album – MCMXC a.D.) It goes without saying that I’ll give it multiple listens now.

    I’m sure he will end up in the UK Top 40 singles chart before too long — isn’t there an album in the works?

  4. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is the song that never fails to make my hair stand on end. Rocket Man and Your Song don’t quite have that effect but nonetheless I could listen to them every day and not get sick of them.

  5. Hi FEd,

    1. I’m not a fan of his, but if I had to choose, then it would be “Crocodile Rock”.
    2. I didn’t know, but the chances to hear “Understanding Women” are rather zero…
    3. Sorry, I have no idea…

    “Elton Hercules John” vs. “Reginald Kenneth Dwight”. No doubt the first one wins, and I’m very amused reading his second self chosen name. 😀



    1. Hercules… The Biography channel’s website has this to say about that:

      He changed his name, by deed poll, from Reginald Kenneth Dwight to Elton Hercules John in 1972. The name came from Elton Dean, a saxophonist, and the late Long John Baldry, a British blues musician. Hercules was the name of the horse in the British television sitcom ‘Steptoe and Son’.

      I’d love to know whether that’s just a pointless observation or if there is some connection.

  6. Elton has certainly had a long career but I fear it has never matched the highlights of the early years. At that time he was part of one of the great songwriting partnerships with Bernie Taupin. In particular I’m thinking of ‘Your Song’, ‘Rocket Man’, ‘Candle in the Wind’ and part-share in ‘Pinball Wizard’.

    In fact I have a strange association with ‘Rocket Man’ and ‘Candle in the Wind’ which are two songs that remind me very vividly of the slightly unnerving atmosphere of Madame Tussauds back in the early 70s before it became a photo opportunity. I can’t quite put my finger on it … No doubt Elton and Marilyn were in the exhibition, but there’s something eerie, wistful and lost about those songs which chimes with those wax figures.

    Recently (and probably for quite song time) Elton seems to have become something of a pastiche of himself, trundling out songs and going through the motions at his own shows and big set piece events. I caught him at a picnic in the park event in North Norfolk (we don’t have indoor venues big enough here) a couple of years back and he lacked any real rapport or engagement with the crowd. Perhaps he was still feeling guilty about the rotten Billy Elliot songbook from the West End show which I’m pretty sure I could have improved on, with or without wacky glasses. Like a lot of 1970s acts, he dipped badly in the 80s and never quite re-emerged. That said, his increasingly open and courageous stance on gay issues and the public wrestling with his own demons has been an equally valuable legacy.

    I didn’t know the provenance of the name but certainly he was never going to be a glam-rock star as plain old Reg.

    That Buzzcocks’ collaboration with David must have been a crowd scene … I can’t quite see them performing that number as lead performers. It does bring to mind one of the startling facts about David’s 2006 tour though … How many other greats from the 70s went on to be on quite such good form post the 60th birthday? ‘On an Island’ and in particular the year of performances that follow show a man not just playing the songs but on the form of his life, giving definitive performances, thoughtful interpretations and playing with rare passion and technique.

    1. Well, yes, but never mind all that about Sir Elton, Tim. I don’t know about you, but I’m wondering what happened to Madame Tussaud’s apostrophe. It’s Madame Tussauds now?

      Must have gone the way of the Waterstones apostrophe, poor thing.

      I like to think they’re together somewhere, possibly hiding in a McDonald’s and planning a determined yet squiggly attack on Kings Cross… God, it’s about time.

    2. Fed, we stand alone on the ramparts of a grammatical castle under siege from those who just can’t be bothered … Actually what a dull and protracted siege that would be. At least they could lob a disease-ridden cow over the walls occasionally or use one of those chaotic rock-throwing catapults …. But no, they just send us bloody txts instead.

      That said, I think the aforementioned waxworks parlour lost the right to its (no, not here please) apostrophe the day the prices went above £25 or whatever it is they now charge to be photographed next to George Clooney looking like he’s got a cucumber stuck where the apostrophes will never trouble him. I need a coffee. I appear to be ranting this morning.

      Please add ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ and ‘Daniel’ to the list.

    3. I think you make a good point about him being a pastiche of himself, going through the motions, you have to wonder why he bothers.

      I think you are correct in saying his best years were in the ’70s. I was never a fan though.

      I wish he’d throw his weight behind equality for all. I’ll go so far as to say, I’m sick to death of hearing about gay rights, and marriage currently in the media. What is wrong with a civil partnership to protect your partner? Do the rest of us go about shouting from the rooftops about our sexuality? (You might find yourself thinking, “well no, but I don’t have to, I’m normal”.)

      Sorry, I can’t stand overtly camp behaviour. (I hope I have a right to free speech . . . and I’m hetero.)


    4. Oh, that was a great observation about David, Tim, touring with stunningly good new work after he was 60. There aren’t many able to do it. 🙂


    5. Fed, we stand alone on the ramparts of a grammatical castle under siege from those who just can’t be bothered …

      I’ll join you on the ramparts. I admit my English grammar (in that I don’t know what I’m talking about, I get feelings about something being correct) and my spelling isn’t great. I think I know how to use the apostrophe though and I think its loss will cause a great deal of confusion eventually.

      Does Kings Cross mean the cross(roads?) of several Kings, plural, or does King’s Cross mean the cross(road) of the King?

      Then there’s plurals. Then there’s contractions.

      I read the other day that some councils will do it for road signs too. Huh! What’s the world coming to? 🙁


    6. I love a bit of overly camp behaviour, me.

      Quite agree with you about wanting him to “throw his weight behind equality for all”. The point being though that heterosexual couples in partnership/marriage have a status that homosexual couples don’t. If you see marriage as a lifelong loving commitment between two people (and I do) then surely their gender or sexual orientation is irrelevant.

      As for shouting off rooftops… Madonna springs to mind (FFS put it away Madge!)

    7. Off topic but relevant to FEd and Tim’s exchange … was reminded of something I have on my bulletin board from a number of years back – this – and thought you would both get a wee chuckle (or perhaps not). My copy is tatty so it gave me an opportunity to print out a new one.

    8. Interesting! It was around 1980, when I took an adult-chauffeured flight (my first) to San Francisco, where I saw the wax renditions of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not: Guinness Book of World Record Tribute, both of which I was utterly obsessed.

      It was the highlight of my 10 year old life: how is that for ambition? 🙂 What is it about the 1970s and its total obsession with circuses, owls, and wax statuary? Thanks to that trip, I fondly and forever link Queen’s “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You” played along with wax celebrity model displays, and I imagine Queen is still played loudly and proudly in the overhead pa’s as one sees rendered in wax the worlds’ tallest man and the most cigarettes smoked at once as one walks down winding hallowed halls! That was the first time I ever heard Queen, but I also remember Elton John’s music played flamboyantly overhead as well!

      My husband loves Elton John, and I love the memories attached to his work: Sir Elton John’s music had a way of sticking like candy floss and bubble gum to the decade’s most memorable moments!

    9. Have a look at the guy in the pink tutu – here. It was his behaviour that incensed me to my outburst about camp behaviour.

      The guy in the tutu didn’t do his cause any favours. He’s more likely to alienate and outrage the people he would like to influence. I think everyone has a duty to put children first. I don’t expect the guy in the pink tutu cares about which parents he upsets, or their children so long as he got to flaunt it that day.

      It’s not easy for a parent to do an excellent job when it comes to this subject. Sexuality (of any flavour) is not something to be flaunted. It would help immensely if other grown ups behaved with a bit of restraint in public (and that goes for sex on TV and in films too, I’m well peeved at that as well).

      With regard to the particular case, power to the woman’s elbow. There should be equal rights to society’s benefits be it tax breaks, inheritance equality, everything that married couples have.

      The vehicle in Britain is a civil partnership which is identical to a civil wedding.

      I think “Marriage” as a term to describe the union of people who wanted to make a life long commitment to each other, was first used by the church and for the union of a man and a woman. I don’t see a need to change that.

      I hate the way the church is being attacked and I feel its doctrines and history should be respected. If someone doesn’t like it, they can always find another church.

      To be helpful though, I’ll point out that some ministers are willing to provide a blessing to a couple who have had a civil ceremony, same as they will for opposite sex couples that elect for a civil ceremony.

      That’s if they feel they need it.


  7. Hey there-

    I saw in my local paper last Thursday that David and Pink Floyd band mates are going into the 2012 National Recording Registry (in the USA) for “Dark Side of the Moon”. It states in the paper due to the “cultural, artistic and historical importance to the nation’s aural legacy”. Of course, we all ready knew that.

  8. Happy Birthday Reginald Dwight. He has created a lot if music. Off the top of my head, in regards to songs I enjoy would be: “Rocket Man”, “Crocodile Rock” is a catchy tune, “Your Song”, And “Island Girl” are nice tunes too.

  9. Off topic, but I just stumbled across this gem that should be shared. It’s from 1992 with David, Mica Paris and Jools Holland.

    1. One of several fine DVD extras on David Gilmour In Concert, of course. Details here, if you don’t already know.

    2. I do not have the David Gilmour In Concert DVD, which may be why I’d never seen this before. Had heard about it, though I did not know it was part of that DVD.

  10. I’m not a big fan of Elton John but I have a great respect for the talented pianist and for the person for his involvement in charities especially his fight against HIV/AIDS.

    – My favourite songs are ‘Song For Guy’ and ‘Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding’ (mainly the instrumental part). I also do love this version of ‘Live Like Horses’ that he performed with Pavarotti.

    – I didn’t know that David played guitar on ‘Understanding Women’, I didn’t even know the song, searched it on YouTube, I have to say that for me, the guitar solo is by far the best part of the song.

    – As for The Official UK Top 40 Singles Chart, sorry, but I don’t know most of the artists there. Maybe David Bowie and Eric Clapton should be there with their new albums, but I don’t know if they released singles.

    I also heard there was a new album in the works. My favourite radio station said it would be released in September 2013 and the title would be ‘The Voyeur’. Mon Dieu! 😕

  11. Let’s be honest: when Elton was a musician, circa 25 years and more ago, he was one of the most inspired musicians of his generation and contributed to change the history of rock n’ roll, so our story.

    I do not have 1 favorite song, I have 1 favorite album that often listen from start to end: Blue Moves. Listen to it again, it is eternal.

  12. Happy Belated Birthday Elton John. Sorry I’m late, if you’re reading this. 🙁

    Elton John has been one of the most prolific songwriters of my time. People flock to his performances by the thousands (really much more than thousands) and there is a good reason for it, he is terrific.

    My favorite Elton John songs are: “Daniel”, “That’s Why They Call It The Blues”, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Candle In The Wind”.

    I did not know that David Gilmour played on Elton’s ’90 album, The One. But I don’t own the album and I wouldn’t have heard of it here in the U.S. unless they had advertised it extensively, which they did not.

    I don’t think Elton would sound out of place singing beside anyone, ever. He has already done it extensively and with great success. He has even appeared and worked with Rap artists. Ugh. 🙁 I’ve never heard any of course, and I do forgive him. 🙂 Personally I wish he would do an album with Barbra Streisand or Susan Boyle, I think it would be amazing and I would buy them. I predict Elton will be on the Top 40 charts before we know it, the man is everywhere, all the time.

    What’s in a name? I never understood that name changing fetish that the famous have. Everyone changes their name, but I cannot imagine that Elton would not have become just as famous as Reg Dwight with the talent he had. Remember the late 70s early 80s recording star Johnny Cougar? Of course, that name was a record company idea. 🙁 Who ever believed a name like that? He now performs under his real name, John Mellencamp, and does quite well, thank you very much.

    I certainly hope Elton continues to perform for years to come, especially writing and recording. I’ve heard he has private demons. But, he has a son now, and a lifelong partner and that is surely something to live a sober life for. I always hope that the people I admire live happy, healthy lives. I like Elton John.

  13. Regarding the use of apostrophes to show possession,

    FEd, may I ask a question, please?

    I know the basic rules: “Tim’s comment” (singular) and “workers’ rights”, “children’s rights” (plural), but what about proper names ending in ‘s’?

    For example, which one is correct, “Descartes’s philosophy” or “Descartes’ philosophy”? I have seen both spellings on the internet…

    1. Both are correct but I prefer “Descartes’ philosophy” because I don’t see the point in the extra ‘s’, I think it just looks untidy, but the extra ‘s’ does seem to be more common these days and I think that’s probably because it’s written the way it would be pronounced (which makes sense) and the idea is to always try to help your reader. For example (and don’t you think they look untidy?):

      The Band of The Prince of Wales’s Division
      Charles Dickens’s former home reopens after £3.1 million revamp

      But then, speaking of Dickens, whose writing I now want to read just to find out what he’d do in this situation, not that it would probably matter to most people all these years later but I’d find it reassuring…

      Charles Dickens’ Kent home to be opened to the public

      Say what you like about the BBC, and a lot has been said lately, but as long as they’ve got David Attenborough and continue to treat singular nouns ending with an ‘s’ like that (yes, I know exactly what I just did, it doesn’t change anything), I’ll keep paying my licence fee. 😉

      I’m still quite annoyed about the ridiculous roofs thing, actually, when the plural of ‘hoof’ is hooves and ‘loaf’ is loaves and ‘dwarf’ is dwarves… Ah. Adding stupid new words – like ‘omnishambles’ – to the dictionary is one thing, but this encouraging of inconsistency is something else. I’m just glad I’m not alone in finding this outrageous: Hoofs indeed. And that was a public school. Jesus Christ, what is the world coming to?

    2. I’d go with you and the single ‘s’ option Fed. Much tidier and I think also how it would be said … I would say Dickens’ and not “Dickenses” if you see what I mean …

      I’m not so worried about roofs. I think that in this case it might be that we don’t quite say it as we do hooves and when I write rooves it makes me think of grooves and we certainly don’t want just the one groof. Of course, people with more than one roof deserve to be confused anyway (and taxed heavily if Andrew Motion had his way) and this is exactly the kind of thing that Michele loves about our language … it’s just so ….. unmathematical.

    3. Thank you, FEd, for your help and advice. It’s always a real pleasure to read your comments on the English language.

      Badgers make Dylan Thomas’ final resting place ‘look like ploughed field’ sounds perfect to me. No extra ‘s’. (And I’m happy to realise that badgers are protected in Wales. Well done!).

      I like ‘rooves’ (sorry, Rudders and Tim 😉 ). It sounds to me much more elegant and classy than the brutal ‘roofs’.

      I read something online that made me laugh a lot: ‘Rooves’ is the plural of roof for people old enough to read the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language, in fact old enough to know that the real Napoleon was not Dynamite or a brandy. :))

      Joking apart, regarding any language, I like exceptions to rules, I get the feeling that they add something to the charm, the beauty, the authenticity(?), the splendor of a language. After all, we must not forget that respecting our language (and its rules/exceptions) is preserving our heritage (I mean ‘patrimoine’ in French).

      Here, so funny, three words ‘amour’, ‘délice’ and ‘orgue’ are masculine in singular and feminine in plural…

      Now, what’s the plural of ‘Woof!’? 😉

    4. Simple! Roof-Rooves, Wolf-Wolves, Woof-Wooves! 🙂

      In Hawaiian (according to Pukui and Elbert’s ‘Hawaiian Dictionary:’

      “Woof” is Ma’awe pokopoko. 🙂

      It’s disappointing that Hawaiian didn’t make the “woof” cut on Wikipedia. That would be pronounced Mah-glottal-stop AH-vey poh-koh-POH-koh, using a flat but long “o” and an “‘okina,” (pronounced glottal-stop-oh-KEE-na), what looks like an apostrophe is actually considered a part of the Hawaiian alphabet!


      Pronounced ah, eh, ee, oh, oo, he, ke, le, moo, noo, pee, vey, ‘okina!

      I love it that dogs are so multilingual, French dogs in particular! 🙂

    5. I’m in general agreement with the untidiness issue: but I was a bit shocked (yes I shock easily), when I decided to search Charles Dickens for usage, and found this quote from A Tale of Two Cities:

      “St. Giles’s…”

      Does that mean I should be calling it Charles Dickens’s novel?

      1. Charles, Charles, Charles. I’m crushed. First we discover that William Shakespeare was a tax-dodger and grain hoarder during food shortages, selling it to his neighbours at inflated prices, now this.

        Thanks for checking, Sharon. It was on my To-Do list.

    6. I like ‘rooves’ (sorry, Rudders and Tim ). It sounds to me much more elegant and classy than the brutal ‘roofs’.

      I suspect that it sounds a lot more elegant and classy with a French accent … you should hear it clubbed to death in the Norfolk dialect. 🙂

      1. I fear much of Wales would insist on ‘roofs’ even if the law changed (for the better) tomorrow and mispronunciation of the correct ‘rooves’ became a hangable offence.

    1. I apologize, it appears that I am in definition error:

      “Woof” in Hawaiian isn’t a dog’s bark, but the woof of threads in a basket!

      Apparently, dogs do not woof in Hawai’i! 🙂

      At least we will all be fluent at the next basket weaving! 🙂

  14. I always remember Elton and Kiki Dee, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, long summer days and long evenings. Living in Blackpool, the air always smelt so sweet in the evenings. Playing football on the park, golf, and cricket and not forgetting fishing. Funny how songs reignite memories.

    Thanks Elton and Kiki. Happy Birthday Reg.

  15. Happy Very belated Elton.

    True Story Fed!

    There was a famous club in Toronto that was called The El Macombo! Notoriously famous for the Rolling Stones fiasco involving our Maggie Trudeau. I missed it but a friend went. He said it was amazing.

    I once helped roadie a guy’s band before he was discovered, Jeff Healey. Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded there, it’s available folks. Check it out.

    I know Fed, but this the kicker, since you brought it up. I met Long John Baldry and shook his hand there. Amazing show, blew me away.

    Lastly, my claim to fame is that my original band played one Friday night there with our name in lights. What great memories!

  16. – I Feel like a Bullet (in the gun of Robert Ford)
    – Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy
    – Teacher I Need You
    – Skyline Pigeon
    – Funeral/Love Lies Bleeding
    – Levon (Taupin’s lyrical play on words are worthy of Waters)
    – High Flying Bird
    – Madman Across the Water

    Cheers, FEd and fellow Irregulars. It’s been a while.

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