If the Phoenix bird can fly…

…then so can I…

I always loved that line and the image and even hope that it provokes.  With that said, Grey Seal is one of those lyrically obtuse songs (and that’s not a complaint, mind you), although musically it is quite distinctive (at least the second, GBYBR version is).

Why’s it never light on my lawn
Why does it rain and never say good-day to the new-born
On the big screen they showed us a sun
But not as bright in life as the real one
It’s never quite the same as the real one

Say what, Bernie?

I never learned why meteors were formed
I only farmed in schools that were so warn and torn
If anyone can cry then so can I
I read books and draw life from the eye
All my life is drawings from the eye


I always took the song to be something of an indictment on education and the efficacy of learning through experience (“all my life is drawings from the eye”).

And tell me grey seal
How does it feel to be so wise
To see through eyes
That only see what’s real
Tell me grey seal

So what (or who) is the Grey Seal?  Others  perhaps more learned than I have suggested:

  • Higher authority
  • The seal on a diploma or certificate
  • An actual grey seal
  • A symbol (e.g., the seal of the United States)
  • A seal of approval

Funny, according to the author himself, “Grey Seal was very oblique. I hadn’t a clue what I was writing about. It was just images.”  I wonder if he gets a good laugh at those of us trying to lay some deeper meaning on to it.

Just goes to show that we think too much sometimes.

As for the music, I really love the flourishing piano, the intoxicating “wah” (is that a word?) of Davey’s guitar, the mania of Nigel’s drumming, the soulfulness of Dee’s bass…and the voice, of course, the voice.  You’ve got to listen to this one loud.

As alluded to earlier, Grey Seal was actually recorded twice by Elton.  First, as the B-side to Rock and Roll Madonna in 1970 and second, on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.  I prefer the second version myself – perhaps because it was the first version I heard, but mostly because it (musically) expresses the rage  and intensity that the lyrics are (I think) trying to convey.

You be the judge:

Vintage 1970

Vintage 1973

Grey Seal (Goodbye Yellow Brick Road)

I really love your band and your funny accent

21 at 33? 25 or 6 to 4? How about 4 in 36?

That’s the number of times (4) I will see Elton in concert in March and April (in the span of 36 days).  (!!!)

And so shall go the Pilgrimage Part Deux:

  • Friday, March 9: Ft. Lauderdale
  • Saturday, March 10: Orlando
  • Tuesday, March 12: Estero
  • Saturday, April 14: Las Vegas

Is it crazy? Yes.

Is it self-indulgent? Absolutely!

Does that make me a groupie? Perhaps.  I will have seen him live in concert 21 times in 33 years (ah, there’s one degree of separation for you):

  • 1979: Back in the USSA Tour (Atlanta)
  • 1982: Jump Up! Tour (Atlanta)
  • 1984: Breaking Hearts Tour (Hollywood)
  • 1988: USA 1988 Tour (Miami)
  • 1993: The One Tour (Miami)
  • 1995: Face to Face Tour (Miami)
  • 1998: Big Picture Tour (Miami)
  • 1999: An Evening with Elton John (Atlanta)
  • 2002: Face to Face 2002 Tour (Ft. Lauderdale)
  • 2005: Peachtree Road Tour (Ft. Lauderdale)
  • 2006: The Captain and the Kid (New York)
  • 2007: 2007 Tour (Estero)
  • 2008: Rocket Man Tour (Gainesville)
  • 2010: The Union Tour (via Livestream)
  • 2010: The Union Tour (Daytona Beach)
  • 2010: The Union Tour (Lakeland)
  • 2011: Tribeca Film Festival (via Livestream)
  • 2012: 2012 Tour (Ft. Lauderdale)
  • 2012: 2012 Tour (Orlando)
  • 2012: 2012 Tour (Estero)
  • 2012: 2012 Tour (Las Vegas)

I say, bring out the sequins and feather boas and let the groupieness begin!

(By the way, the title of this post is a snippet from the song Sick City, in case you were wondering).

The weight of angels

So…the other day, I had a revelation.  On my other blog, Cornflakes and Classics (how’s that for shameless promotion?), I recently posted my poem Emilie.  As I was publishing the poem, it dawned on me that perhaps that signified one degree of separation…I have a poem called Emilie…and the boys have a song called Emily.  It only took me 14 years to realize that, but, hey, “in my thick skull the joker hides.”

Anyway, I’ve always liked this song, and I’ve been intending to write about it.  I just didn’t have the lead-in.  And there you go.

Emily is one of those truly sweet songs, with Bernie’s words painting such a vivid picture that you feel like you’re watching a movie:

Emily prays to a faded hero
In a little frame clutched to her gown
Hears the voice of promise in his memory
Tonight’s the night they let the ladder down

In a cage sits a gold canary
By a wicker chair and a rosewood loom
As a soul ascends aboard the evening
Canary sings to an empty room

When I hear this song, I can’t help but think of my Dad and the 9 months he lived after my stepmother died.  He missed her so much, along with the family and friends that had passed before them.  I was able to be there when “they let the ladder down” for him, as were my sisters and brother.  At least he wasn’t alone like Emily.

And Emily they come and go
The shadows and the distant sounds
But Emily don’t be afraid
When the weight of angels weighs you down


[I am not worthy, I am not worthy]

If I have one complaint, it’s that I would have chosen a different word than “”weighs” you down.  imho.

[I am not worthy, I am not worthy]

Oh, yes, and the music ain’t bad, either.  Love the haunting guitar, the piano interlude and (of course) Elton’s voice.


Emily (The One – 1992)

The Year of 65

To commemorate 2012 being the year Elton turns 65, the Captain the the Kim is resolved to publish at least 65 blog posts this year.  You heard it here first.

That’s more than 5 posts a month – can I do it?  I certainly have enough fodder just within the EJ catalog, but I suspect the year may provide some other topics for me to yammer on about, too.   I mentioned some of these in my last post, but I’m so excited about them that they bear repeating (at least to me, anyway). The book signing is something new to look forward to:

  • The Union premieres on HBO on February 2
  • Elton and his band will be live in Ft. Lauderdale on March 9 (and guess who will be there?)
  • Elton’s 65th birthday on March 25
  • The Million Dollar Piano Show in Las Vegas on April 14
  • Elton’s book “Love is the Cure:  Ending the Global Aids Epidemic ” will be published in July (plus an audio book recorded by EJ – gotta have that!)

So not to worry, my stalwart fans…yes, I’ve been a little quiet lately, but the year appears rife with possibilities.