While my quest to be a 2x Ironman has been thwarted, I have successfully become a 1x Titaniumman (“Titman”?) seeing as how I’m the the new proud owner of seven (yes, seven) titanium pins and screws. So what am I doing about it? Well, at the moment, now that my rehab exercises are complete for the evening which, basically, amounts to my playing “Dis Widdle Piggie” with all the digits of my left hand, I’m sulking in my EZ-Boy and listening to the ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road‘ album by Elton John.
It was the album designed to be a blockbuster and catapult Elton to the stars, and it was. Prior to this album, Elton had other hits – his self-titled second album went Top 10 in the U.S. and U.K., and he had smash singles in ‘Crocodile Rock‘ and ‘Daniel‘ – but this 1973 album (recorded at the Château d’Hérouville in France after problems recording at the intended location of Jamaica) was a statement of purpose spilling over two LP’s, which was all the better to showcase every element of John’s spangled personality.
Opening with the 11-minute melodramatic exercise ‘Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding‘ – as prog as Elton ever got – ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road‘ immediately embraces excess but also tunefulness, as John immediately switches over to ‘Candle in the Wind‘ and ‘Bennie & the Jets‘, (not one of my favorite’s of John’s, but I digress), two songs that form the core of his canon and go a long way toward explaining the over-stuffed appeal of the album.
This was truly the debut of Elton John the entertainer, the pro who knows how to satisfy every segment of his audience, and this eagerness to please means the record is giddy but also overwhelming, a rush of too much muchness. Still, taken a side at a time, or even a song a time, it is a thing of wonder, serving up such perfectly sculpted pop songs as ‘Grey Seal‘, full-bore rockers as ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting‘ and ‘Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock & Roll)‘, cinematic ballads like ‘I’ve Seen That Movie Too‘, throwbacks to the dusty conceptual sweep of ‘Tumbleweed Connection‘ in the form of ‘The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-34)‘, and preposterous glam novelties, like ‘Jamaica Jerk-Off‘. This touched on everything John did before, and suggested ways he’d move in the near-future, and that sprawl is always messy but usually delightful, a testament to Elton’s ’70s power as a star and a musician.
In 2003, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The album was ranked #91 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest albums of all Time, and certified 8× platinum in February of 2014 by the RIAA.
This evening it’s satisfies nearly 90 minutes of reading (‘Getting Stoned With Savages‘ by J. Maarten Troost’), doing some laundry, and just generally feeling sorry for myself hy riding my Percocet high.