Nov. 17, Elton John Day

Yesterday, Nov. 17, was Elton John Day.
But nobody knew it. Not even him.
It’s my own private holiday. I’ve been celebrating it for almost 50 years.
The first Elton John album I ever heard was titled “11/17/70.” It’s the date of a live radio broadcast. This was actually the fourth or fifth album Elton John released, but he was new to me when the album was brought to my attention in 1971 by my friend Danny Lorenzini in the form of an 8-track tape. We played it over and over in my old Buick Special I had bought the year before for 600 bucks. Danny installed the 8-track player for me.
The album was like nothing I had ever heard.
“This is Dave Herman,” it began, “and we’re at A & R studios in New York City for an evening of entertainment. We have perhaps 100 to 120 people in the studio. Would you welcome very warmly those of you at home and those of you here, Mr. Elton John.”
The next thing you heard was Elton on piano with the introduction to “Take Me to the Pilot.”
There were only six songs on the entire album, but I tend to remember just three. The other two are “Sixty Years On” and the 18-minute “Burn Down the Mission.”
At the end, Dave Herman comes back and introduces the “band,” which consisted of, besides Elton, only bassist Dee Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson. He also introduces lyricist Bernie Taupin.
I loved early Elton John. I listened to “Tumbleweed Connection” and “Madman Across the Water” almost as much as “11/17/70,” but my all-time favorite is “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” Most people know “Candle in the Wind,” which was later re-written for Lady Di’s funeral, and “Benny and the Jets,” but to me the opening number “Funeral for a Friend” is the best on the album. It’s haunting.
Not that it mattered to him, but I kinda parted ways with Elton John when he recorded “Philadelphia Freedom.” I felt he had gone Top 40. Although I did like his work on “The Lion King.”
His most beautiful song, as far as I am concerned, however, is simply titled “Love Song.” It’s on “Tumbleweed Connection.”
I’m surprised it’s not sung at more weddings.
Here are the lyrics:

The words I have to say
May well be simple but they’re true
Until you give your love
There’s nothing more that we can do

Love is the opening door
Love is what we came here for
No one could offer you more
Do you know what I mean
Have your eyes really seen

You say it’s very hard
To leave behind the life we knew
But there’s no other way
And now it’s really up to you

Love is the key we must turn
Truth is the flame we must burn
Freedom the lesson we must learn
Do you know what I mean
Have your eyes really seen

Ed Ackerman