Friday, June 10, 2016

12 Albums: Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection

In answer to a question from an old friend, I've been thinking about my "12 most influential albums." By that I suppose he means the 12 records that helped to form or direct my musical tastes and the direction I would go as a lover of music.

The first installment of this series featured Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman. The second is also a country record of sorts, but one that comes from a surprising source. I am speaking of Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection.

From the first listen I loved every song on this record and I listened to it incessantly. This was before the full-fledged Elton John persona had surfaced (the glittering jump suits and top hats, etc.), and Elton could convincingly sing of being a western gunslinger, a cowboy, a southern soldier in the American civil war, or of fixing grandma's barn. I once heard Elton say in an interview that his early style was highly influenced by Leon Russell, and you can definitely hear the influence in many of these songs. The funky piano and the honky tonk band. Bernie Taupin's lyrics conjure a sort of southern idyll and of course Elton's delivery is all-out as usual. He's like an actor inhabiting his role with total commitment.

Hard to pick the one representative song, because in fact there is a great deal of diversity on this record, but I'm going with "Southern Comfort."

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