Do you ever get that question, “What’s your favorite ____?”
I hate that question.
Not because I don’t have favorites. The problem is I am an enthusiastic fan of so much stuff. I have too many favorites. And the frustrating thing is, many of these things I love border on the overlooked. So I’m going to start sharing them here. Specifically favorite songs. One song at a time in short little pieces like this.
Shall we get started?
It seems everyone has a favorite Elton John song. This one is mine.
Off his eponymous 1970 album, “The King Must Die” is an epic. At 5:21, maybe it was too long for regular radio play? Maybe the subject matter was not as radio friendly? But by damn, that’s no excuse for this song to be so unknown.
It already feels epic with those strong piano chords and Elton singing his damn heart out. In fact, the drums and bass don’t even kick in until almost a minute into the song. Then, at 1:28 the horns come in and blow the walls down.
Yeah. Horns. An orchestral horn section, packing the brass and bringing the strings and the rest of the orchestra along with it. The song moves in waves, beautifully arranged, building big, pulling back, sweeping back in. And sweet fuck Elton swung for the fences with this track.
And those Bernie Taupin lyrics? Forget about it!
“And if my hands are stained forever
And the altar should refuse me
Would you let me in, would you let me in, would you let me in
Should I cry sanctuary”
I love it. It’s majestic. It soars.
I’ve heard a variety of explanations for what the song is about, but ultimately, I don’t really care. Does that make any sense? I’m simply swept away in the glory of the arrangement. The waves of strings, the blast of horns, drums rolling like thunder, and Elton singing like he can bring the dead back to life with the power of his voice.
Like I said. Epic.
Check it out yourself, and if you like, I invite you to share YOUR favorite Elton John song. After all, it seems everyone has one!