Here's another LP from the closet (not from the Fr. Dorrill collection, most of which is still sitting around in boxes), in response to a conversation I had some weeks ago in which I promised to give it a listen.
Elton John's name has come up here once or twice, and I was pretty dismissive. I'm sorry, but there's something about the guy's music, especially his voice, that doesn't appeal to me, even though I recognize that if I look at it with some detachment I see that the work he did in his prime was really good. Somehow his music always seemed not quite real to me. And I just don't care for his voice. And I never have been fond of the piano as a rock instrument.
I remember well the appearance of this album, his first to be released in the U.S., and the ubiquity of the single "Your Song." I bought it--I must have, because I still have it--and liked it, though I was already sick of "Your Song." And I liked the next album, Tumbleweed Connection, more for its Western vibe than for the music itself. But I didn't buy it, and I can't recall ever hearing this one after 1972 or so.
So, what do I think, almost fifty years later? More or less what I thought then: gifted artist, not really to my taste. These songs are all well-crafted and well-performed, and I was surprised at how familiar they are to me. I must have heard the album more than I remember--which, now that I think of it, makes sense, as I was working in a record store when it was released. That was where I heard his next few albums, more than I wanted to hear them.
I'm still tired of "Your Song." I wonder if "No Shoe Strings On Louise" was intended as an encroachment on Rolling Stones territory. It sounds like a Stones song, and it would have been convincing performed by them, but it isn't here; it sounds a bit like a deliberate attempt to do something in that vein.
There is really only one song here that moved me, and it's fairly atypical for the artist: "First Episode at Hienton." It's not rock-and-roll. It's a sweet, nostalgic ballad about a first love that didn't work out: lovely melody, poignant lyrics, quiet unmannered vocal, pretty string arrangement, light on piano.
For that one song I'll put the album back on the shelf rather than try to peddle it to my local record store.
I also like the somewhat stylistically similar "60 Years On." For some reason I've remembered the opening lines all these years:
Who'll walk me down to church
When I'm sixty years of age