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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Music > Rock > Albums > Classic Albums: Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (DVD-Video)

Classic Albums: Elton John Ė Goodbye Yellow Brick Road


Picture: C+†††† Sound: C+†††† Extras: C+†††† Main Program: C+



Who would ever have thought that one day in my rather uneventful little life I would find myself on the run from Elton John?Now donít get the wrong idea, I donít owe Sir Elton crazy amounts of cash lost to him in a drunken melee of No-Limit Texas Hold Ďem.Nor was my flight from the aging Popster the result of some verbal misunderstanding, a rumored slight overheard in a crowded post-Grammyís bash where I, a slurring inebriate pulled aside young Marshall Mathers and, drink wildly spilling over myself and the Wonder Bread rapper, was overheard to have said stupidly derogatory nonsense in what could barely pass for English much less cruel coherency.


No, my long-distance run from Elton is a much more mundane story.It starts with Eagle Visionís Classic Albums doc on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, but in truth it actually begins some years before this DVD came floating across the counter of my shop.


The first beginning is rather innocuous.I took the DVD home and watched it a couple of times, taking almost-legible notes concerning the players and producer.I attempted to find the mot juste, the perfect phraseology to capture Gus Dudgeonís, the producer, necromantic knob twiddling as he brought the heavenly background vocals to the fore of the mix.†† And as he peeled away the layers of trickery he had added to Bennie and the Jets to reveal the unassuming little onion at the songís core I scribbled away something Po-Mo and abstruse.


I watched the sessions for the album progress from the entropic breakdown of the Jamaica sessions that resulted in the embarrassing Jamaica Jerk-off to the almost magical ease with which the later sessions came together at the Chateau DíHierouville in France.There were current interviews with Elton and a rather chagrined Bernie Taupin concerning their songwriting process.Also, thereís old film of Elton and the lads in his band frolicking amongst the lake and greenery on the Chateauís property.Of particular interest to all Seventies connoisseurs will be the crazy-wide bellbottoms and ultra-tight powder-blue t-shirts.


Right now you might be asking yourself what all this has to do with what is arguably one of the best albums by one of the biggest Pop stars of our time.Thatís a fair question.So let me admit right here that yes there was a time when I was horribly addicted to VH1ís Behind the Music.The fact that I still have not seen the Iggy Pop episode rankles me quite a bit to this very day.And while it is true that Eagle Visionís Classic Albums series is certainly more concerned with the music rather than the myth it, like its American counterpart, fails to be much more than a superficial tour of the Rock of yore; a how-they-did-it manual that when taken page-by-page adds up to zero, not one.


And thatís the thing about these docs.They attempt to reduce art to math.Itís pretty clear in Bernie Taupinís rather bitchy tone while answering the interviewerís questions of Why Marilyn Monroe, Danny Bailey, and Roy Rogers? that obviously he can only explain so much about the artistic choices that had been made.Math only gets you so far when it comes to art, the rest is, for want of a better term, magic.†† And that magic cannot properly be verbalized.Itís the old saw that remains completely true that, in this case, talking about music is like dancing about architecture.


But despite the limitations inherent in the act we do it anyway.Hell, I do it professionally.


And thatís what put me on the run, ducking and weaving, juking in serpentine fashion, comically attempting to escape from Elton John.It was the magic, not the math, which inspired my albatross flight.†† A few years back I was deeply in love, though at the time I was completely unwilling to admit to it.And the girl in question, just like myself, was a labyrinth of suppressed emotions and fears where our relationship was concerned.Her mother, naturally, never really liked me.Or perhaps she just never really Ďgotí me.†† The place I held in her daughterís life was confusing to us all.


Anyway, the girl, knowing that her mother loved Elton John, asked if I would be so kind as to make a killer Elton mix.Certainly, I replied and quickly set about making the tape while the girl reclined on my couch watching and listening.†† But the track selection hit a snag when I arrived at the song Daniel.Knowing a little about the girlís mother and a rather tragic affair between herself and a man named Daniel who had killed himself I quietly asked the girl whether I should include the song or not.Itís one of Eltonís big ones and as someone who takes these things much too seriously I believed any respectable Elton mix should contain Daniel.But due to its unfortunate connection to a dead lover I found myself in a bind.My head said include the song, while my heart said no; it would be a painful reminder to this woman and, inadvertently, seem like a cruelty on my part.


The girl sweetly and smiling told me that I should include the song, that actually, Daniel was pretty much the whole reason for the mix.She knew that this song had the power to take her mother to a place of warm and happy memories where a certain peace for her heart could be found.So worried about the music ripping open barely healed wounds I had forgotten that sometimes music is also a restorative, a healing agent. I guess thatís more a reflection of my own glass-half-empty worldview than anything else.


Until I had sat down to write this I hadnít really thought about that incident in a long time.But rummaging through my own head searching for a personal connection to the work at hand there it was, a shining beacon and the closer I got to it the more I noticed the dangerously jagged rocks hidden below the waterís surface.I became aware of my folly much too late, though, and foundered foolishly, wrecked upon the rocks.


Hereís why: the recollection of Daniel the song had led me to Daniel the man which landed me in Daniel the suicide which stabbed me with the recent suicide of my uncle.I should have seen that coming, but I was blissfully unaware, typing away and listening to the music.When I was finally run through by the petard of my familial connection to it all everything stopped and I had to step away from my typewriter.I hadnít been back to it since.The wound I worried over, the tender half-healed skin of a once-loveís mother, turned out it should not have been the focus of my concern.Certainly not while I sit here dripping blood of my own.The music had become connected inside me, threads of it wrapped and knotted around the tragedy of my poor uncle and somehow I didnít know it.I didnít recognize the beast till it was upon me and because I was in no shape for a fight I took flight.I set out running to escape Elton John.


Music is both restorative and ravager and try as they might docs like this one are just too ill-equipped to really investigate that rather unspeakable truth.Itís not that itís a secret, itís just that words are not enough, never enough to express why an album like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, or some silly little song like Daniel, enters into us and becomes forever a part of who we are.



-†† Kristofer Collins



Kristofer Collins is the owner of Desolation Row CDs and can be contacted at desolationrowcds@hotmail.com


The review of the Super Audio Compact Disc edition of Elton Johnís Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is reviewed on this site at the following link:





Know that this DVD is also available with that SACD set as a three-disc set.


Be sure to check out more reviews of the Classic Albums series from Eagle Vision also on this site.


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