Friday, December 28, 2007

Sweet Painted Lady

We've established this much by now: Bernie was disapproving of whores, or at least he was in the lyrics he wrote. So naturally, anytime a prostitute or prostitution is the subject of one of his songs, you know you'll get lyrics like this:

Oh sweet painted lady
Seems it's always been the same
Getting paid for being laid
Guess that's the name of the game

But really, when you look at the words objectively, there's a romanticism and sentimentality that's missing from, say "Island Girl" or "You're So Static", and that gets this one across. It's written from the point of view of a sailor on shore leave, who is apparently ruminating on the ladies of the evening he and his mates avail themselves of while off the ship.

It helps that Elton crafted a lovely melody for the tune, with accordions gently swaying in the background, a somewhat bawdy-sounding trombone punctuating many of the lines, and of course his 3 AM honky-tonk-style piano carrying the rest.

In keeping with the not-specifically-stated but present nonetheless 30's-40's Hollywood movie feel of many of Yellow Brick Road's tracks, this one does conjure up a hundred and one shore-leave type B-movies of those years, and maybe Bing Crosby or Dean Martin might have been a suitable choice to sing it. At least in my mind, anyway...

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