Sunday, October 21, 2007

Daniel

Certainly one of the most unlikely and unusual of Elton's hits, both subject matter-wise as well as in terms of its musical accompaniment, "Daniel" attempts to address a serious subject, that of soldiers who were returning home from the Vietnam War in the 1970's. According to the EltonLinks.com FAQ:

It is inspired by news coverage of the war that Bernie (Elton's lyricist) watched in the early 70s.

One can infer that Daniel has returned from the conflict with, as the song goes, "scars that won't heal". Another reference is made to "eyes (that) have died" which suggests he has been blinded, and/or perhaps his youthful innocence or idealism has died. Apparently Daniel has taken up residence in Spain, to get away from those who would seek to persecute or exploit him for being a war hero. The song is written from the point of view of Daniel's younger brother, who seems to miss his older bro terribly. Even though these aren't exactly Bernie's most accomplished set of lyrics, they manage to sum up the feelings of all concerned quite nicely, and this verse is quite good indeed:

Daniel my brother you are older than me
Do you still feel the pain of the scars that won't heal
Your eyes have died but you see more than I
Daniel you're a star in the face of the sky



Elton casts this story-song in a mid tempo, ballad-type setting with a gorgeous melody and a slight Carribean feel. Most of the main melodic lines are played on an ARP synthesizer, an instrument that was still new and very popular at the time. A rather low-key way to open an album, but as one of the (relatively) strongest tracks available it works.

The public responded- "Daniel" hit #2 in the US and was also top 5 in the UK.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I remember reading somewhere that Bernie wrote a third verse that was deleted. It apparently makes the whole Vietnam vet connection clear, but I don't know if it was ever published...