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Judging Elton John–Correctly This Time

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I didn’t liked Elton John when I was young. Youth defend their cultural choices aggressively, and I was into The Grateful Dead, Hot Tuna and that hemisphere of music. I was turned off by the costumes, all the camp/glam stuff. It was more theater than music.

One of the great things about doing this site — and about getting older — is that I see the bands and performers I watched when I was younger through more mature eyes.

John and partner Bernie Taupin wrote some great songs. I’ve come around to valuing that over dislike of the presentation. Those old thoughts are over (though I still don’t like the duck suit). The final push — in the right direction — was learning about the help John has given to the great Leon Russell.

Above is “Sad Songs (Say So Much).” It’s a powerhouse version performed at a mega-concert in what looks to be the 1990s. Eric Clapton is hanging around, smiling a lot and not doing much. Mark Knopfler takes a solo at the end. John is in such good spirits that he does a very brief Dylan imitation. And, as somebody in the comments pointed out, the guy in the back with the tambourine is awesome.

Below is (most of) “Amoreena,” as it was used by Sidney Lumet for the open sequence of “Dog Day Afternoon.” New York was as tough a place as it looks in this film back then.


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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.