Before the Stones, before Springsteen, before Dylan, before R.E.M., before Los Lobos, before Madonna, before Neil Young, before Drive-By Truckers, before Prince, and before all the other artists I’ve become obsessed with over the years, there was Elton John. I’m not sure I’d call him my first musical hero, because even before Elton there were The Beatles and Creedence, but what I do know is that the first album (the first of several thousands, in various formats) I ever bought with my own money was Elton’s “Honky Chateau,” and the first that I just about wore out through repeated listens was “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”
There’s no doubt that Elton is one of the most popular musical artists of my lifetime, but the part of his career that I’ll always remember most fondly is that incredible span from 1972 through the end of 1975 – which I’ll go to my grave defending as one of the most artistically successful eras that any artist has had. In that time, Elton released “Honky Chateau,” “Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only the Piano Player,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Caribou,” “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,” and “Rock of the Westies.” Six albums of at least A- quality, and some much, much better than that. So if you’re gonna make fun of Elton John, you’ve come to the wrong place.
In honor of Sir Elton on his 65th birthday, it is my pleasure to present this special seven-song perfect playlist.
“Bennie and the Jets” – on “Soul Train!”
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” – with The Muppets!
“Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”
“Someone Saved My Life Tonight”