Friday, February 15, 2008

Suzie (Dramas)

As if Amoreena had a sister named Suzie, we're back in to Tumbleweed Connection territory as Bernie pulls out his array of Farmer's Almanac-style references to give us a "Down in the Boondocks"-style account of a young buck in love (an old "hayseed harp player") with a pretty country gal who lives in the poor part of town. And honestly, he does it better here than he does on its predecessor; he conjures up some nicely-done agrarian imagery in every verse.

The thing that makes this track go, though, and what makes it an overlooked gem in Elton's repertoire is the arrangement- he begins by spitting out the first line- "I got frostbitten in the winter/Ice skating on the river"- with no lead-in, and only with minimal piano/drum syncopation before easing in to the rest of the verse, giving it an immediacy that serves it well. The rest of the song is set in a vaguely funky, staccato rhythm, something like "Ballad of a Well-Known Gun", with the choruses defined by an ascending set of notes that accompany Elton's singing, ensuring that the song never really lets up except during a brief passage in which they beat slows for a guitar solo before lurching back in to the chorus with its stairstep notes. In keeping with Honky Chateau's stated intent to present Elton without his "bloody 100-piece orchestra", its instrumentation is minimal- only the core Classic Elton Band (Davey, Dee and Nigel) are present.

It wasn't often after this that the increasingly slick and hard-rockish Elton sound went back to its Band-style country/rock roots, and in some ways that's sad.

1 comment:

Thom MacFarlane said...


One of his best...