Elton John's "Tumbleweed Connection" - 12/4/15
"In the quiet silent seconds I turned off the light switch
And I came down to meet you in the half light the moon left
While a cluster of night jars sang some songs out of tune
A mantle of bright light shone down from a room" -Elton John/Bernie Taupin - "Come Down In Time" from Tumbleweed Connection
To kick-off this album of the week project, I wanted to share an album that I own in multiple forms. I have the vinyl (2 copies, for whatever reason) and I own it digitally, etc. etc. Now, it's not an album you would see in an Greatest Hits type collection... but for the bigger fans of the Classic Elton era, this is a favorite.
Tumbleweed Connection was released on October 30th of 1970 on the DJM label. To this point, Elton had released Empty Sky ('69) and Elton John (April of '70). The latter had Elton's standard "Your Song"... then following Tumbleweed he released Madman Across The Water which spun hits like "Tiny Dancer" "Levon" and others that secured the Bernie/Elton song-writing duo into stardom.
With all that being said... Tumbleweed Connection sometimes gets lost in the catalogue. However, it's appeal has grown over the years, allowing an eventual RIAA Platinum rating.
This album really highlights Bernie's fascination with Americana. Front-to-back, this is probably their most rootsy effort... until, possibly, Peachtree Road.
Tumbleweed Connection is full of story songs and amazing imagery. In my opinion, this album really settled-in that early Elton vocal styling and orchestration.
My favorite tracks (at least today) are...
My Father's Gun - A true ballad. A story song. Very americana, harkening Civil War imagery and Elton's strong delivery vocally, and beautifully attacked piano accompaniment. The horns appearing in the first chorus with the choral singers are perfectly placed. Overall... if Mark Twain was writing music in the '70's... I feel like he could have penned this tune.
Come Down In Time - This is the 2nd track on the album. It's a haunting pseudo love-song/ballad featuring a finger-picked steel string. It also employs interesting wind instrument choices for a pop/rock album... most notable a very present, low-range-sounding oboe. The song grows increasingly orchestral with big string swells, and a beautifully relaxed vocal attack. It's the type of song that you can follow the story of the lyric, or make up your own in the same mood. The song closes uniquely on more of a verse phrase and an unresolved chord... executed really well.
In my opinion, this is a great cold-weather album. Especially late in the year, between holidays when your mind is already kind-of "recapping" life... Tumbleweed Connection just seems to fit that mood well.
I encourage you to listen to the vinyl if you can, but for immediate gratification, here is a link for you to check it our on iTunes/Apple Music... https://itun.es/us/Bqau - where, as of right now, you can buy it for $8... totally worth it.
Check in next week Friday for a new soundtrack to your weekend!