Saturday, January 26, 2013
40 Year Itch: A Star in the Face of the Sky
Released on January 26, 1973 , Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player --the #1 album that secured Elton John's rise to superstardom--also carries a whiff of mediocrity about it. Even Elton has dismissed it. "I really like some of the things on Don't Shoot Me but as far as continuous flow, it doesn't hold up. It's really a bubblegum album."
Elton and the band knocked out the album just weeks after Honky Chateau came out. His contract called for two albums a year and the pressure was getting to Elton. "I made Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player really on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I was so ill. I didn't know it, but I had glandular fever and was very slow."
The album contains two big singles. The first was the cheesy early 60's tribute "Crocodile Rock" that, in its "la la las" quotes Pat Boone's "Speedy Gonzales".
The better hit was the enigmatic but beautiful "Daniel". In its final verse Daniel is revealed to be a Vietnam vet trying to get back home to the life he led. But without that reveal, plenty of people guessed Elton was singing about a boyfriend he missed.
Our favorite deep cut is "Elderberry Wine" which could have been an A-side single despite its rhyming "You aimed to please me/ Cooked black-eyed peas me." In all, 1973's Don't Shoot Me was just a slight hiccup. Elton's greatest album was ten months away.