The misogyny trilogy still rankles, lyric-wise anyway, although “All the Girls Love Alice,” which can’t even decide if Alice’s customers rank with the young girls or “middle-aged dykes,” seems to have grown some cred of its own. A mystery.
But mysteries populate this comer. Who’s Elton (and/or lyricist Bernie Taupin, by proxy) really supplicating to in “Grey Seal”? “This Song Has No Title” because they’re lazy, smartass, or both? Who shot Danny Bailey? How did Elton figure out how to rip off Suicide (for “Jamaica Jerk-Off”) — plastic organ, electric metronome and all — while Suicide was still threatening their Mercer Arts Center regulars with motorcycle chain? Which “Roy Rogers” movie does that codger cozy up to? Does it matter? How do Bennie’s “electric boots” keep from shorting with all that stomping?
All artifice, natch. But warm artifice. Elton, Bernie, and let’s not forget, the late, lamented producer Gus Dudgeon made something to ease on into like a terrycloth robe several sizes too big, made for you to wander around your living room pretending you’re the king of all you survey and your stereo, too.
Elton, not above wearing outfits which resemble that remark, leads off with synthesized funeral bells and vampire-movie windstorms; later he’ll add organic-sounding rock-area crowds and semi-ambient environmental touches — but he believes whatever he rolls out, and believing in it, he can sell it. “Bennie and the Jets” works because Elton remembers being a fan, waiting for the show to begin. The prayerful tension, and then the release.
- Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
- Artist: Elton John
- Label: Island
- Songs: Disc 1: (1) Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding (2) Candle in the Wind (3) Bennie and the Jets (4) Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (5) This Song Has No Title (6) Grey Seal (7) Jamaica Jerk-Off (8) I’ve Seen That Movie Too (9) Sweet Painted Lady (10) The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909–34) (11) Dirty Little Girl (12) All the Girls Love Alice (13) Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ’n’ Roll) (14) Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting (15) Roy Rogers (16) Social Disease (17) Harmony.
- Disc 2: (1) Candle in the Wind by Ed Sheeran (2) Bennie and the Jets by Miguel featuring Wale (3) Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Hunter Hayes (4) Grey Seal by the Band Perry (5) Sweet Painted Lady by John Grant (6) All the Girls Love Alice by Emile Sande (7) Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ’n’ Roll) by Imelda May (8) Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting by Fall Out Boy (9) Harmony by the Zac Brown Band; Elton Live At Hammersmith Odeon, 1973: (10) Candle in the Wind (11) Goodbye Yellow Brick (12) All the Girls Love Alice (13) Bennie and the Jets (14) Rocket Man (15) Daniel (16) Honky Cat (17) Crocodile Rock (18) Your Song