Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Truly A Man Of Golden Words A Look At Elton John's Lyricist Bernie Taupin

The cover of one of Taupin's few solo records.
This year will mark the 46th anniversary of Elton John and Bernie Taupin's songwriting partnership. The two signed their first record deal together, with their parents having to co-sign because both men were minors at the time. The partnership has spawned countless songs at this point, and has been one of the most productive in music history.
Taupin's lyrics have, in fact, struck such a chord with people that he is a major celebrity himself. Everyone knows his name and knows he's the man who writes Elton's songs. How many other songwriters who aren't typically performers can the average person name?
Out of all those songs, some have, admittedly, been bad, but today we tried to take a look at the very best to come out of this legendary duo.

A truly scary epic of a song dedicated to telling the story of a school killer. The story has been told over and over by various different sources, but Taupin's lyrics really get to the heart of such a tragedy, in the style of an outside observer in much the way that Pearl Jam would employ years later on their hit "Jeremy."

5. "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy"
The rousing tale of Elton and Bernie's humble beginnings, this song was a way to sum up the tale from its early days to their massive success by the time it was written as the title track of Elton's ninth album in 1975.
The song's seemingly sad ending, telling that it was going to be a "long, lonely climb" from then on out, was of course wrong. Despite Elton's troubles in the '80s, his and Taupin's stars never really faded afterward.

4. "I've Seen That Movie Too"
A damning break-up song, Taupin's story is telling off an ex-lover whose actions are nothing more than an act from a B-movie. Not only is it one of Elton's best songs musically, but the lyrics are so bitterly contemptuous that even Guns N' Roses evoked the song title on their track "You Could Be Mine" as Axl's shorthand way of telling a lover not to bullshit him.
3. "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding"
Not only does this song still stand as Elton's magnum opus musically, but Bernie Taupin's lyrics are a hell of an impactful tale of -- what else? -- a breakup. Lines like "I wonder if those changes have left a scar on you, like all the burning hoops of fire that you and I passed through" are a chillingly accurate portrayal of the feelings of dealing with the shattered remains of love lying bleeding in one's hands, as the chorus goes.

2. "Levon"
This track's lyrics are particularly striking for the chorus proclaiming the death of God and the beginning of a war. That's an attention-grabber if ever there was one. But with a deeper look, it's a powerful and carefully crafted story of a son's rebellion against his father, steeped in religious metaphor.
1. "Someone Saved My Life Tonight"
An all-time classic Elton song, this one tells the story of his failed engagement with a woman before he came out, and a subsequent suicide attempt just before he was about to experience his greatest musical success.
The lyrics stand for themselves as an endearing portrayal of a failing relationship and the joy of being freed from it, something anyone can relate to, regardless of the personal meaning for Elton. And what else would we listen to when
those melancholy moments are upon us? Works for me every time....

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