Sunday, June 10, 2012


Today, the title track from Madman Across the Water, Elton John's fourth full album. Madman has "Levon" and "Tiny Dancer," which we all know "very well," but I think "Madman Across the Water" is a real star. It's kinda like Elton's version of a slow jam.

It starts with typical John sound: quiet, with some agile vocals, piano, drums, and a recurring theme climbing on the low end of the fuzzy guitar.  But at about two minutes in, the strings come in, and they are not there just for moody effect. Listen to the nimble orchestrations at 2:20, playing back and forth with the guitar and organ. The low-end of the string sting! punctuation at 4:30 and the purposeful dance of the instruments at 5:00 make me crazy. I can picture the furious, strong bowing of the musicians (although they may be synth in this song, I'm not sure).

We know Elton John is a musical visionary, but "Madman Across the Water" makes it so clear that we can't just listen to his greatest hits. There is so much to find in the other tracks.

Apparently "Madman" is a left-over track from Tumbleweed Connection (probably my second-favourite Elton John album), an album I strongly urge you to listen to. When you do, you'll be able to hear similarities, although "Madman" was re-worked for Madman.

PS: Tonight is the season finale of the season 5 of Mad Men. Coincidence? Actually, yes. If I were less transparent, I'd try to make it seem like design. Alas, no.