I was inspired to do this post after re-watching one of my favorite George interviews last night because I felt like hearing his voice. He did this interview with Good Morning Australia in 1982, and I love it because he seems really relaxed and in a great mood, being his usual witty, funny self. But what really got me thinking was when he shared his thoughts on Elton John at the very end of this video after the reporter asked him what he thought of Elton. This comes at about 9:20 in the video.
At first after watching this, I thought, “I love you dearly Georgie, but how dare you talk smack about Elton John!!!!” But then I realized, as I always seem to do, that I actually somewhat agree with George’s assessment of Elton John’s music.
See, as I’ve delved into the world of Elton John over the past month or so, I’ve completely fallen in love with him and his music. It is definitely easy on the ears and very enjoyable to listen to, and I find that I seem to listen to him when I feel like being a rock star and want to belt out something like “Tiny Dancer”, pretending that I’m the frontwoman of some famous rock band. Elton is the ultimate rock star to me, and his music is fun to hear and to dance to. I’ve really come to appreciate good piano playing because of him, and “air piano” is now a regular part of my “air band” lineup, along with guitar, drums, and bass. (lefty bass of course, for Paul!)
But as I thought about what George said about Elton, I found myself thinking, “What a shock. George is right again.” Because as much as I love Elton’s songwriting and Bernie Taupin’s lyrics, I think that the very fact that Elton didn’t and still doesn’t write his own lyrics leads to somewhat of a disconnect between me and his music. Listening to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is certainly an experience, and Madman Across The Water is one of my new favorite albums, but the lyrics to Elton’s songs are all about storytelling. That does serve an important purpose in my life, no question, and his songs are beautiful and magical to listen to. But I don’t think that I learn all that much about who Elton is from his music. And I’m not saying that as a bad thing, but more as a reason why I think George’s assessment of him is rather accurate.
Where George wins out over Elton for me is the fact that his music is entirely written from his point of view. George wrote his own lyrics and wrote about what was important to him, and his soul and love for God shines through his music. George’s lyrics are always clever and beautiful, but they also show who he is as a person, which is a loving, funny, caring human being. For me, listening to George Harrison is more of a personal, intimate experience than listening to Elton John, and the sheer honesty of George’s music is just one of the many reasons why I love him. Again, I’m not at all saying that Elton’s music isn’t honest or personal, but he’s not who I listen to when I feel like really connecting with the lyrics of a song. I love singing along to Elton’s songs, and sometimes I honestly just want to listen to “Crocodile Rock” and nothing else for a while. But at some point, I want more than that, and that’s where George comes into play. His music and his words speak to me in a way that no one else can, and I love him for always seeming to be there for me whenever I need him.
In addition, although I love them both, I feel like I connect with George more as a person than I do with Elton, which probably factors into my opinion of their music. This definitely isn’t a fair comparison, because I love George more than just about anybody, but it’s true. From watching his interviews, Elton seems like a great guy with a hilarious sense of humor, but really, this is George Harrison I’m talking about. As we all know, to me, he’s the man. 🙂
And what am I basically trying to say by all of this? I’m not saying that George’s music is better than Elton’s, because I feel that music can’t really be categorized according to “goodness”. All I’m saying is that I agree with George’s assessment of Elton’s music because while I completely get where George is coming from in his songs and I understand his philosophy on life, I don’t always get that with Elton through his music. That is all. But they both rock!
I hope I didn’t ramble too much in this post. Sorry if I did. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!