My earliest memories of Elton John come in the early-to-mid 1980s, when I was hearing such songs as “I’m Still Standing,” “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues,” and “Sad Songs (Say So Much).”
I think I can say I truly became a “fan” of Elton John in the late 1980s, when he released the live version of “Candle in the Wind.” While I wasn’t familiar with the original studio recording at the time, there was something about that song that grabbed me. With this introduction to Elton, I was interested when he released “I Don’t Wanna Go on With You Like That,” which was the lead-off single for his 1988 album, Reg Strikes Back. Not only was the song catchy to me as a 13-year-old, but I was also really impressed by the music video. This single was followed up with “A Word in Spanish.” While it may not have been as catchy as “I Don’t Wanna Go on With You Like That,” I could still appreciate it.
The following year, when I started the ninth grade, Elton released the Sleeping With the Past album; the lead-off single for this album was “Healing Hands.” This song had me instantly hooked. There was something about the combination of the lyrics, Elton’s vocal performance, as well as the blending of the piano and percussion that grabbed my interest. In some respects, while I liked the follow-up single, “Sacrifice,” I just never liked it as much as “Healing Hands.” The third single, “Club at the End of the Street” was never a big pop success, but I really liked the song and the animated music video that went along with it. At the time, I was disappointed by the song’s chart performance; in some respects, I’m still a little disappointed.
At some point in the early 1990s, I started hearing some of Elton’s earlier material from the 1970s, and realized how much I liked a lot of it. To me, standouts from his 1970s material include: “Your Song,” “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” “Crocodile Rock,” “Tiny Dancer,” and “Daniel.”
In the fall of 1992, which was my senior year of high school, Elton released the album, The One. The title song was the lead-off single, and I remember how I just loved it. This was followed by “The Last Song,” which was a poignant song about a young man dying of AIDS to reconcile with his father. “Simple Life” was the third single from the album, and it was a decent song.
As the 1990s progressed, I liked the occasional song Elton released, such as “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” “Circle of Life,” “Believe,” “Made in England,” and “Something About the Way You Look Tonight.” As the decade came to a close, though, I was starting to lose interest in what Elton was recording. But, in 2001, when he released the Songs from the West Coast album, the lead-off single grabbed me. That single was “I Want Love.”
Elton John has released some incredible material over the years, even though he has released some songs that I didn’t really care for. While all his songs aren’t perfect, Elton still remains one of the best singers and songwriters that is still recording material today.