Listful Thinking: Top 5 Elton John Songs

In which our hero selects Elton John's 5 Best songs...
  |   Comments

The premise of this series when I introduced it several months ago was to dash off the 5 best songs from artists whose work I admired but weren't on heavy rotation at Hathaway Radio, if you will. Maybe they weren't on heavy rotation because I don't actually like the artist all that much but grudgingly admit they had at least 5 songs worth remembering. That's clearly not the case with Sir Elton John.

John will always be a bit of an enigma to me. His musical career and public persona have confounded us all at times. I don't know why I don't feel the need to own his catalog and listen to the deep album cuts and different phases. I feel a pull toward his work but it's not strong enough to persuade me I need to invest those dollars and hours. I had only one 2-CD compilation by John up until this year when I bought the fantastic re-issue of his classic Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, which celebrated its 40th birthday last year. I intended to do this list when I bought the set and tie it all together. Ooops. I guess I'm a wee little bit late on that. No matter.

Winnowing Elton's voluminous, uneven catalog down to five songs was an agonizing task (I'm really angry about omitting the sixth song I had on my list). It's clear I prefer a specific aspect of his sound, my selections being far less sonically diverse than his career. It's not representative but that doesn't matter because these are Elton John's 5 Best Songs:

  1. Your Song: I won't get many originality points for most of my choices on this list but listen to "Your Song" and tell me I'm wrong. His vocal performance is poignant and perfect. He would rarely sound this tender or endearing again.
  2. Burn Down The Mission: House favorite here. I get the sense people don't love this one nearly as much as they should- including Elton, who doesn't play it in concert much these days.
  3. Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me: We have myriad reasons to be angry and George Michael but he helped revive this song and introduced many my age to it in the first place. Elton's version is, of course, superior. It's also one of his best.
  4. The One: I wanted to include one from Elton's latter period and though I like some of those '80s hits, I'm sorry, those just weren't options. Elton's vocal performance is one of the most powerful and passionate of his career. It's an excellent song that probably sounds a good bit better on stage where the shitty production -- hollow percussion, ridiculous synth accents -- is excised.
  5. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: People love the record and like the song; I get the feeling I like the tune itself more than most. I love the sweeping melody. One listen and I'll be humming it for days.