All quiet…all quiet…all quiet on the western front

I’ve never been much of a history buff. Admittedly, I’ve had to look up a few of Bernie’s references over the years (can you say Robert Ford?) and there are probably way more sprinkled throughout his lyrics than I’ve ever caught on to. But this song has always intrigued me.  After all, I am a sucker for big themes and big arrangements.

All Quiet on the Western Front is about World War I, presumably as the war is ending. Whether or not it was influenced by the book of the same name, you’d have to ask Bernie. But I’m thinking yes. Although it doesn’t really matter which war, to be honest, just that it’s about the tragedy that is war. I mean, through history, we’ve (and that’s a collective, global “we’ve”) sent our young men off to war, at the prime of their lives, many of them never to return. And those that do return will never be the same.

And we’re still doing it.


Once again, Bernie’s lyrics paint a poignant picture:

All quiet on the Western Front, nobody saw
A youth asleep in the foreign soil, planted by the war

So tired of this garden’s grief, nobody cares
Old kin kiss the small white cross, their only souvenir

Don’t those words just break your heart?  They do mine.  Every time I hear this song I get goosebumps.

And Elton’s voice has a sadness to it, don’t you think?  I alluded to the big arrangement earlier, and it is big and dramatic, particularly the ending, but it’s also quite simple. I close my eyes and picture troops marching.

Fever reaps the flowers of France, fair-haired boys
String the harps to Victory’s voice, joyous noise

That part always reminds me of the poem that Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep) reads at Denys Finch Hatton’s funeral in the movie Out of Africa (To an Athlete Dying Young):

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead, 
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s.

Athletes, warriors, too many with HIV, innocents in a classroom, the list is endless. But the message, albeit simple, is quite clear. Too many die too young.

All Quiet on the Western Front (1982 – Jump Up!)

Finishing that thought…

As I mentioned in my previous post about Elton at the Yamaha 125th Anniversary concert, I so wanted to see what was going on in the remote locations across the world. And here it is:


My daughter says its freaky, but I say its amazing. And the technology is very cool, particularly since Elton claims to be somewhat of a Luddite.

Now the only question is: Can I get one of these Disklavier things added to my piano (with the Elton John tracks, of course)?!

I really did enjoy the concert, not just Elton’s performance (although his was the best, of course).  And I have one thing to say to all those fans out there who complained about his set list (no obscure songs)…Stop whining! I feel so blessed that he is still writing, recording and touring – and still relevant.  Not that I, too, wouldn’t love to hear him play something from the back catalog, but I’ll take whatever he chooses to perform.

Oh, yes, and did I mention that I play Yamaha, too?  Alas, I didn’t make the cut:

Now onto the Grammys tomorrow night!