Thursday, August 9, 2007

Solar Prestige a Gammon

Bet you were wondering when I was going to get to this one, weren't you?

"Solar Prestige" is a cheerful little nonsense ditty consisting of (according to Robert Christgau) "...words that only sound like words or that can't possibly mean what they seem to mean."

Cast in a setting that features a Latin sort of rhythm, accordion, piano and xylophone, Elton blithely chirps the words and draws the listener into the goofy fun.

Of course, some griped, and not unreasonably, that perhaps the talents of all concerned were wasted on such a trivial enterprise, and some suggested that it was written in arch response to critical over-scrutiny...but it's short, sweet, inoffensive (to me, anyway), and hardly the focus of a mostly unfocused elpee.

It's as true now as it was in 1974: Solar prestige a pako can nord.

14 comments:

Roger Green said...

I should mention that I appreciate you labeling these by album, for while I had (have, actually) most of these albums, I never had Rock of the Westies, e.g.

brendan said...

I think I remember Elton doing an interview around the time of this album when he said that Solar Presige was inspired by Lennon's Sun King - fair enough. But it's doomed by that comparison, surely...

Johnny B said...

That's something I wish I had more access to- interviews with Elton and Bernie. I read many of them when they came out, but no longer have the magazines in question, and am mostly relying on memory and Googling when writing these.

Now that you mention it, I remember the "Sun King" mention as well...I can certainly see it, but I agree that Taupin couldn't hold a candle to Lennon's Lear-like skill with nonsense.

ianrc2000 said...

"Solar Prestige a Gammon"

I remember as you rightly say that this was words used just to get the flow before Bernie got round to lyricing and the rubbish was that good they kept it.

Great Blog, well done.

Johnny B said...

Thanks, ianrc!

Vinyl said...

Am I the only one that notices a lot of the nonsense words are very close to names of fish?


Lantern (as in lantern fish) turbert (turbot)
salmon
sardin
floundin
Cod
Ray

Johnny B said...

Perhaps this song was an influence on Robyn Hitchcock...

Odd Erik Skavold said...

I read in the sleeve notes of the CD version of the Caribou album that these lyrics were a response to criticism towards Elton (and subsequently Bernie) regarding religious matters. How this adds up, I don't know.

The notes are written by John Tobler, as far as I can remember, but I can't seem to find these notes at the moment.

Johnny B said...

You know, I have that CD, and what you're saying sounds familiar. I'll have to go dig it out and see.

TJK Haywood said...

I thought he might have been singing in French. I Love Taupin and Elton 1970's since I was 10 years young. I will proceed to read every word of this blog!

Johnny B said...

Great! Hope you find something of interest here...

Scotty Gustafski said...

It probably be best for everyone commenting on these lyrics to try to explain to everyone else just what the actually lyrics mean. The fact of the matter is that a critic made a comment about Bernie Taupin's lyrics being a "bunch of rubbish" and how Elton would put Bernie's lyrics to music no matter what they were. Well, Bernie did just that and naturally, Elton being so incredibly talented, wrote the music. This is almost like a critic making a comment about Led Zeppelin making an album and the fans would buy it just because it was Led Zeppelin. That being the case, Jimmy Page made sure there was nothing in the way of naming the album or putting Led Zeppelin's name on it in any way. To this day, no one knows what the album is called. Most people call it "Led Zeppelin IV" because it was their fourth album. Nevertheless, critics are stupid, useless and worthless in everything that they do!

David Jones said...

Well, I'll tell ya, Scotty, I think critics do have value...I'll always entertain an informed opinion. Some are more informed than others, of course, and it isn't generally difficult to cull the ones who have a clue from those who don't.

Still, whatever the provocation, Bernie was definitely taking the piss in regards to certain critical brickbats, and I think he chose a fun way to do it.

Christian LeGault said...

And as Vinyl said with his fish reference, he also combines the words "Hair ring" as in herring