Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Let Me Be Your Car

This was a song custom written by Bernie and Elton for buddy Rod Stewart; it ended up on his 1974 release Smiler. It's another in a long, long line of rock n' roll car-metaphor songs, continuing a proud tradition established by Chuck Berry and probably farther back than that, even.

Elton never got around to recording it for himself, except for a piano-only demo which saw the light of day on 1992's odds-and-sods collection Rare Masters. I'm including it in my examinations because it's such a great track- Elton sings the guide vocal on top of a rollicking boogie-woogie barrelhouse piano riff that's a ton of fun to listen to, almost worthy of Johnny Johnson himself, and proof positive what a good player he was, probably still is.

Rod's own fleshed-out version, with Elton singing harmony, Ron Wood and the usual Rod non-Faces session guys on guitar/bass/drums, and the Memphis Horns blowing away in the background, isn't quite as successful to my ears. It suffers from a flat, muddy mix and never quite acheives the takeoff it aspires to- like a lot of that album, the last one Stewart did before moving to the US and recording with a new set of musicians in 1975.


Matt said...

I've always wondered if the Rod Stewart track didn't use Elton's demo as its base--I've never listened to them back-to-back or side-by-side but the similarities are enough that it's always gnawed at the back of my mind.

If they're both on my iPod right now, I'll bite the nerd bullet and listen to them both back to back right now. Wish me luck.

Johnny B said...

Well, ya never know, but I'd bet that it wasn't used. Probably should have been...