Happy one-year anniversary to the Captain and the Kim!

Can you believe it’s been one year since the inaugural post?  Oh, it doesn’t seem a year ago to this very day…but it’s certainly been almost 40 years of musical idolatry.

Looking back, I’m impressed that I’ve been able to keep up with the blog…I certainly do have fun with it.  I wish I had more subscribers and readers, but since I’m doing it mostly for me, that’s just icing on the cake.

365 days, 54 posts later…I wish I’d been more prolific, but I like to be thoughtful about my topics.   Sometimes they just hit me, and sometimes they have to percolate for a while.

So how have I done?  Let’s see…my objectives for this humble homage were – and still are – to thank both Elton and Bernie.  And, along the way,  to introduce someone (or two…) to an Elton song or a Bernie sentiment that they hadn’t heard before and spark them to listen to more…I hope I’ve hit the mark.

Anyway, here’s to my first year blogging, but most importantly, here’s to the boys…Raise a glass and have a laugh, have a laugh or two…now onto year #2…

There’s something about distance…

…that gets to us all.

Absence does make the heart grow fonder, wouldn’t you say?  It’s just that Bernie says it with a bit more originality than I.

Grey London morning, wet London streets
Rain on the window, wind in the trees
It’s my time to write, it’s your time to call
There’s something about distance that gets to us all

I’ve always imagined this song to be about Elton and Bernie…I guess because they are renowned for being at opposite ends of the world yet still collaborating, still best of friends.  (Can you say “two rooms”)?

And latitude
Fold back the morning and bring on the night
There’s an alien moon
That hangs between darkness and light
Latitude between me and you
You’re a straight line of distance
A cold stretch of black across blue

Regardless of who this song may be about, I just love those lines: “Fold back the morning and bring on the night” and “You’re a straight line of distance, a cold stretch of black across blue”…

And I like the music, too.  It has a bit of a country flair.  But then, it wouldn’t be an Elton John album if there wasn’t at least one song with a country tinge to it.  His voice does lend itself to that.

Once again, since this song is pretty obscure, it’s hard to find a good video…but here goes…

Latitude captures the heart and the mind

Latitude (Made in England – 1995)

I’ve seen that movie, too

So, I was getting ready to blog about the song Friends (from the 1971 movie of the same name), and I started thinking about the movies that Elton has either written music for or in which his music or vocals are featured.  I knew about some of those movies, but I figured there were more out there of which I wasn’t aware (yes, really)!  So, like any good blogger, I googled it.  OH.MY!  I am duly impressed!

The following compilation is extracted from IMDb – these are just the movies.  Don’t even get me started on TV!

And to think it all started with that unassuming little film in 1971…

*Gnomeo & Juliet (Crocodile Rock, Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man, Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, Your Song, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, The Bitch Is Back, Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, I’m Still Standing, Bennie And The Jets, Hello Hello, Love Builds A Garden)

StreetDance 3D (Tiny Dancer)
Cemetery Junction (Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting)

*It’s Complicated (Bennie and the Jets)
This Is… Amir (Bennie and the Jets)
*My Sister’s Keeper (We All Fall In Love Sometimes)

Australia (The Drover’s Ballad, The Drover’s Theme)
Lymelife (Daniel)
Hamlet 2 (Someone Saved My Life Tonight)
Pageant (Dance of the Robe)
*27 Dresses (Bennie and the Jets)

Rush Hour 3 (Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word)
Catch-22 (Goodbye Yellow Brick Road)
*Evan Almighty (Just Like Noah’s Ark)
Music Within (Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters)

It’s a Boy Girl Thing (Candle in the Wind)
Running with Scissors (Bennie and the Jets)
*The Astronaut Farmer (Rocket Man)
Quatre étoiles (Don’t Go Breaking My Heart)
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (Don’t Go Breaking My Heart)

*Chicken Little (Don’t Go Breaking My Heart)
Elizabethtown (My Father’s Gun)

House of D (Harmony)
Laws of Attraction (Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours)
The Lion King 1½ (That’s All I Need, Hakuna Matata, Circle of Life, I Just Can’t Wait to Be King, Be Prepared, Can You Feel the Love Tonight)

*Mona Lisa Smile (The Heart of Every Girl)
Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting)

*Moonlight Mile (Razor Face)
The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course (Crocodile Rock)
The Kid Stays in the Picture (Crocodile Rock)

*K-PAX (Rocket Man)
Storytelling (Island Girl)
Moulin Rouge! (Your Song, The Pitch Medley, One Day I”l Flay Away Medley, Elephant Love Medley)

Living It Up (Don’t Go Breaking My Heart)
Greenfingers (The Power)
*Almost Famous (Tiny Dancer, Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters)
*The Road to El Dorado (El Dorado, Someday Out of the Blue, Without Question, Friends Never Say Goodbye, The Trail We Blaze, Sixteenth Century Man, The Panic in Me, It’s Tough to Be a God, Trust Me, My Heart Dances, Queen of Cities, Hey Armadillo, The Perfect Love)
High Fidelity (Crocodile Rock)

Women Talking Dirty (Sofa Love)
*The Muse (The Muse)
Dick (Crocodile Rock)
Drop Dead Gorgeous (Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting)
Summer of Sam (Don’t Go Breaking My Heart)
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (Don’t Go Breaking My Heart)

Without Limits (Rocket Man)
Sliding Doors (Bennie And The Jets, Honkey Cat)

RocketMan (Rocket Man)
The MatchMaker (Candle in the Wind)
The Ice Storm (Levon)

The Associate (Border Song)
Carla’s Song (Your Song)
The Rock (Rocket Man)
Red Ribbon Blues (The Last Song)
Breaking the Waves (Love Lies Bleeding, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Your Song)

*Toy Story (Hakuna Matata)
Nothing Personal (Rocket Man, Candle In The Wind)
Flora (Your Song)

*The Lion King (Circle of Life, I Just Can’t Wait to Be King, Be Prepared, Hakuna Matata, Can You Feel the Love Tonight)
Speechless (Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word)
The Raffle (Heartache All Over The World)
*Four Weddings and a Funeral (Crocodile Rock, But Not For Me, Chapel of Love)
*My Girl 2 (Bennie and the Jets, Tiny Dancer)

The Heartbreak Kid (Teacher I Need You)

Leap of Faith (Stones Throw from Hurtin’)
Peter’s Friends (I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues)
Crossing the Bridge (Love Song)
Lethal Weapon 3 (Runaway Train)
FernGully: The Last Rainforest (Some Other World)

My Own Private Idaho (Blue Eyes)
Driving Me Crazy (I’m Still Standing)

Rocky V (The Measure of A Man)
*Days of Thunder (You Gotta Love Someone)

Running from the Guns (This Town)
The Lost Boys (Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me)

Fandango (Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting)

Razorback (Blue Eyes)

The Entity (Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting)
Summer Lovers (Take Me Down to the Ocean)
L’ultimo schermo (Candle in the Wind)

Walk Proud (We All Fall in Love Sometimes)

Roseland (Super Cool)

Slap Shot (Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word)
Macho Grande (Someone Saved My Life Tonight)

All This and World War II (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds)
La marge (Funeral for a Friend, Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting)

Aloha Bobby and Rose (Bennie and the Jets, Your Song, Tiny Dancer, Honky Cat)
Tommy (Pinball Wizard)
The Sins of Johnny X (Someone Saved My Life Tonight)

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (Daniel)
The Millionairess (Friends)

*Friends (Friends, Michelle’s Song, Seasons, Variation on Michelle’s Song-A Day in the Country, Can I Put You On, Honey Roll, I Meant to Do My Work Today-A Day In the Country)

Note: The ones marked with an * are those movies that I have seen (or, should I say, I’ve seen that movie, too).   I’ve hardly made a dent!

Anyway, I think that’s a pretty impressive and prolific list.  Some of the songs are frequent flyers; others have been written specifically for films.  I especially like being surprised – when I don’t know that his music is in a film (like It’s Complicated and My Sister’s Keeper).  I must admit that I always wait through the credits to make sure he’s dutifully included, surprised or not.

P.S. Can you believe I’ve never seen Tommy?!  I’m thinking this may be a new criteria for me to prioritize my NetFlix movies…

Sorry seems to be the hardest word…tonight

I thought I’d blog about these two songs together – to me, they go hand in hand.  Thematically, they’re very similar; musically, they’re both very mournful, arguably even anguished.   One slight problem:  This may encourage an extra lengthy blog post from moi.  (Ah, I hear that collective, heavy sigh from my readers, all 2 or 3 of you).

Both songs are from Blue Moves, a highly underrated album, if you ask me.  And, though they’re not back-to-back tracks, if I recall correctly, Elton has performed these songs live back-to-back.  And rightfully so.

So let’s start with Sorry, since it’s the one that’s likely most familiar.  I dedicate this song to my husband, who claims (and rightfully so) that this is quite often the most difficult word for me to say.

Beautiful lyrics + a sorrowful melody = A classic.  A simple thought, yes, but so universal.

What have I got to do to make you love me
What have I got to do to make you care
What do I do when lightning strikes me
And I wake to find that you’re not there

Side note: When EJ sings this in concert, after the first line (“What have I got to do to make you love me”), he always turns to the crowd and gives us a sly look – and of course the  crowd cheers.  We love you, Elton, we love you!

It’s sad, so sad
It’s a sad, sad situation
And it’s getting more and more absurd
It’s sad, so sad
Why can’t we talk it over
Oh it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word

There’s a maturity (or perhaps a reality) in these lyrics vs. the unabashed romanticism of youth (such as Your Song).  I can appreciate both perspectives, but it shows (to me, anyway) the boys are growing up.  (EJ would’ve been about 29, Bernie about 26).

Sorry may be the hardest word but it sure makes for some beautiful music

Which brings us to Tonight…

I’ve got to think of a better adjective than beautiful to describe this song.  Brilliant doesn’t even seem to suffice, but let’s go with that for now.  I can not listen to this song without getting goosebumps.

Do we have to fight again
I just want to go to sleep
Turn out the light
But you want to carry grudges
Nine times out of ten
I see the storm approaching
Long before the rain starts falling

The piano introduction is amazing, the orchestration is amazing, the vocals are amazing (can’t you just hear the sorrow in his voice?), the lyrics are amazing.  Running 8 minutes on the album, it was too long for radio air play, which is unfortunate, because again, the message is universal.

It’s late, too late
To chase the rainbow that you’re after
I’d like to find a compromise
And place it in your hands

A piano and orchestral storm leading to a pleading denouement, culminating in a melancholy, yet hopeful ending.  A big production for a simple theme…I love the dichotomy.

Unfortunately,  I couldn’t find a good video of this song, but here’s one that someone put together with the fully orchestrated studio version:

Why don’t you listen to this tonight

Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word (Blue Moves, 1976)

Tonight (Blue Moves, 1976)

Towards the dreams you’ve left so very far behind

I’m going way back for this song.  Off of his first album, Skyline Pigeon still reigns as one of my favorites.  Can you believe this song is over 40 years old?  The lyrics are still beautiful to this day, as is the melody.

Turn me loose from your hands
Let me fly to distant lands
Over green fields, trees and mountains
Flowers and forest fountains
Home along the lanes of the skyway

The theme of imprisonment and yearning for freedom is a recurring one for Bernie.  And never was this theme portrayed with such poignancy and artistry.   There’s an innocence and purity to the lyrics, vocals and instrumentation.

For just a Skyline Pigeon
Dreaming of the open
Waiting for the day
He can spread his wings
And fly away again
Fly away skyline pigeon fly
Towards the dreams
You’ve left so very far behind

I feel the need to include all of the lyrics, they are so beautiful, but I’ll refrain.  Just one more stanza I want to mention:

But most of all please free me
From this aching metal ring
And open out this cage towards the sun

Literally, you can take the metal ring as the restraint that’s keeping the bird in its cage – but I’ve also thought of it as a metaphor for a broken marriage as well.

The song was originally recorded in 1969 and re-recorded in 1972.  I prefer the original recording, because it is only Elton – vocals, organ and harpsichord.  I think that lends to the poignancy.

The original version

Of course, I can’t hear this song without thinking about Ryan White, who Elton credits with saving his life.  It’s hard to believe his funeral was in 1990.  What a beautiful sentiment for a young man who should be an inspiration to all of us.

Ryan White Funeral

Skyline Pigeon (Empty Sky, 1969)

Made in England

This song came to mind while I watched the Royal Wedding back in April.  We were all honorary Brits as we followed the festivities, so in some small sense, I guess we all wished we had been “made in England,” if only for that one day.

Looking quite dapper

I’ve always felt a connection to this song.  No, I wasn’t made in England, per se, but I do come from a long and hallowed English line – Phillips – and I married into one, too.  And I do love a British accent!

I was made in England out of Cadillac muscle
I had a quit-me father, had a love-me mother
I had Little Richard and that black piano
Oh that sweet Georgia Peach and the boy from Tupelo

The story of Elton’s relationships with his estranged father and his beloved mother and stepfather are reknowned.  As is his love for gospel, early rock and roll, Motown and all kinds of American music.  Perhaps he was also “made in America” then (and in many ways he was).

I was made in England like a blue Cortina
But a Yankee summer had a way about her
You had a scent for scandal, well here’s my middle finger
I had forty years of pain and nothing to cling to

I must admit that I had to google “Cortina”…lo and behold, it was car made by Ford of Britain for about 20 years, and it was one of the most popular British cars in the 70’s.  Quite an appropriate metaphor, I would say.  (Funny, for some reason, I thought cortina was a kind of porcelain…ok, don’t take away my honorary British status for that).

If you’re made in England, you’re built to last
You can still say ‘homo’ and everybody laughs
But the joke’s on you, you never read the song
They all think they know but they all got it wrong

I always wondered what he/Bernie meant by those last two lines…anyone care to hazard a guess?

A tiny bit of trivia for you:  This song is off the same-titled album, which was EJ’s 25th studio album when it was released in 1995.  The song is the only song on the album to have a title of more than one word.

Anyway, back to the Royal Wedding.  There certainly was a lot of British pride that day, and I think that’s what this song is trying to evoke.  It’s certainly not a love song to England (“you had a scent for scandal, well here’s my middle finger”), but I suspect there’s nothing that makes Sir Elton prouder than to be “made in England.”

Now let’s take a listen…

Made in England (Made in England, 1995)