Friday, November 9, 2007

Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)

One thing Elton and Co. seemed determined to do on Yellow Brick Road, if nothing else: rock out. And on this track, they succeed admirably.

Immediately after the hopped-up doo-wop style harmony vocals of "Your Sister Can't Twist" abruptly end, the three beat crack of Olsson's drum, closely followed by Davey Johnstone's instantly memorable riff gets this off to a roaring start.

Bernie's lyrics are pretty much the braggadocio of a greasy punk tough-guy who's going out to hit the streets on a Saturday night, and straight-up tells us

A couple of the sound that I really like
Are the sounds of a switchblade and a motorbike

and is looking for

...a dolly who'll see me right
I may use a little muscle to get what I need
I may sink a little drink and shout out "She's with me!"

Fortunately, the band is committed to full-on hard-rock mode and backs up the bluster that Elton gamely tries to provide, as he bellows out the lyrics, only slowing down on the chorus:

Get about as oiled as a diesel train
Gonna set this dance alight
`Cause Saturday night's the night I like
Saturday night's alright alright alright

with some group-vocal oooh-oooh-oooh-ooohs after the final "alright". After the second repeat of the chorus, they repeat the title over and over, the band playing faster the whole time, and jamming furiously until the fadeout, and it becomes a transcendent moment.

A longtime concert favorite, and understandably so- on the occasions I've seen him perform it on television, it was always a highlight of the show.


Rob S. said...

One of my college roommates thought the lyrics to this were "Saturday night's allright for fighting/even in election year."

Can't think of a better time to throw down, actually.

Johnny B said...

But what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock n roll band
cause in sleepy london town
Theres just no place for a street fighting man


brendan said...

Sir Elton did a nice job of this at the Live 8 concert too, as I remember.

Richard Marcej said...

Having seen Elton on four different tours this song obviously ALWAYS gets the crowd going. Especially at the last show that I saw him in the early 90's and he began singing "Lion King" tunes at his show.

I wonder, if it wasn't for this song would he simply be known as a ballad/lite rock star to the audiences of today?

(it's weird seeing the lyrics after hearing the song for so many years:
"A couple of the sound that I really like"
That just looks and reads weird to me)

Johnny B said...

Y'know, that HAS to be a typo- I haven't looked at the album jacket, I just cut and pasted it from Eltonography. I'll have to look that up when I get home.

Matt said...

If I remember my Elton trivia correctly, this number proved very difficult for Elton to both sing and play piano at the same time, so he actually recorded his vocal standing up, which I guess was a rarity for him.

Russell Abbott said...

I've always read "sink a little drink and shout out, sleep with me!" And the lyric isn't election year, it is "better than a-lecherin'" You would never get that without seeing it in print!