♫ Pastime Paradise ♫

A dear friend, whose name I shall not say except to note that the first and last letters of his first name are the same, shot this song into my brain last night, whereby it lodged and refused to budge.  All day, I have been humming or whistling this song, and so … sigh … sorry folks, but from my brain to yours it goes …

Pastime Paradise was first released on Songs in the Key of Life, which has become Stevie Wonder’s most highly praised album. Michael Jackson considered it Wonder’s best, whilst Elton John told interviewers it was “the best album ever made,” a sentiment shared by many in the listening public.

When one thinks of Stevie Wonder, “joy” is the operative word, but in Pastime Paradise the synthesizer strings – one of the first novel attempts at using this sort of string-synthesis in a song – create an edgy atmosphere of anxiety, substantiated by the lyrics which are insistently negative in tone until the final stanza. A combination of issues, from race and religion to the economy are vaguely alluded to by using catchwords like “Race Relations” and “Exploitation” without any further explanation. Anyone that would have been hearing these words in 1976 at the tail-end of the Black Power movement (1965-1975) would know exactly what they were referring to. However, Wonder’s final statement defines the actual message of the song: “Let’s start living our lives, living for the future paradise,” as opposed to living in the unhappy past, or the illusory future in order to escape present social issues.

Pastime Paradise
Stevie Wonder

They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a pastime paradise
They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a pastime paradise
They’ve been wasting most their time
Glorifying days long gone behind
They’ve been wasting most their days
In remembrance of ignorance oldest praise

Tell me who of them will come to be
How many of them are you and me
Dissipation
Race relations
Consolation
Segregation
Dispensation
Isolation
Exploitation
Mutilation
Mutations
Miscreation
Confirmation, to the evils of the world

They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a future paradise
They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a future paradise
They’ve been looking in their minds
For the day that sorrows gone from time
They keep telling of the day
When the savior of love will come to stay

Tell me who of them will come to be
How many of them are you and me
Proclamation
Of race relations
Consolation
Integration
Verification
Of revelations
Acclamation
World salvation
Vibrations
Stimulation
Confirmation, to the peace of the world

They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a pastime paradise
They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a pastime paradise
They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a future paradise
They’ve been spending most their lives
Living in a future paradise
We’ve been spending too much of our lives
Living in a pastime paradise

Let’s start living our lives
Living for the future paradise
Praise to our lives
Living for the future paradise
Shame to anyone’s lives
Living in the pastime paradise

Songwriters: Stevie Wonder
Pastime Paradise lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ Blue Eyes ♫

I’m in an Elton sort of mood tonight, and this is one that I haven’t yet played.  Why am I in an Elton sort of mood?  Because I just finished writing a rant-y sort of post that has left me agitated, because I’ve lost the little rubber tip to my cigarette rolling machine, because the a/c still isn’t fixed, because I washed windows today and they don’t look much better than they did before I washed them, and most of all, I think, because I’m tired and frustrated.  A few people can relieve all those symptoms, and Elton is one such.

Released in 1982, both as a single and on the album Jump Up!, it hit #8 in the UK and #10 in the U.S. and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1983.  The music and lyrics were written by Elton and Gary Osborne, but there really isn’t much trivia that I could find about the song.  The video you are about to see was filmed in Australia, on Sydney’s famous Bondi to Bronte walk.  So, grab a cracker and some peanut butter and just listen …

Blue Eyes
Elton John

Blue eyes
Baby’s got blue eyes
Like a deep blue sea
On a blue blue day

Blue eyes
Baby’s got blue eyes
When the morning comes
I’ll be far away
And I say

Blue eyes holding back the tears
Holding back the pain
Baby’s got blue eyes
And she’s alone
Again

Blue eyes
Baby’s got blue eyes
Like a clear blue sky
Watching over me

Blue eyes
Ooh I love blue eyes
When I’m by her side
Where I long to be
I will see

Blue eyes laughing in the sun
Laughing in the rain
Baby’s got blue eyes
And I am home, and I am home again

Blue eyes laughing in the sun
Laughing in the rain
Baby’s got blue eyes
And I am home again

Songwriters: Elton John, Gary Osborne
Blue Eyes lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ Sacrifice ♫

When I am down, I turn to either Motown or Elton to cheer me.  Sure, there are others, but those are my ‘go-to’ choices.  Every time I have an Elton song in my head, though, I find that I have already played it here.  But tonight, I was whistling (I sing when I’m happy, whistle when I’m not) Elton’s Sacrifice, figured I had probably already posted it at least once, and found that … Lo and Behold, I had not!

As is the case with most of Elton’s songs, the lyrics are by Bernie Taupin and the music by Elton.  It was inspired both by the Aretha Franklin song Do Right Woman, Do Right Man and described as a Percy Sledge song by Elton John.

Actually, now that I think about it, it’s rather a sad song and I was hoping for one to give me good cheer.  Oh well.

Sacrifice
Elton John

It’s a human sign
When things go wrong
When the scent of her lingers
And temptation’s strong

Into the boundary
Of each married man
Sweet deceit comes calling
And negativity lands

Cold, cold heart
Hard done by you
Some things look better, baby
Just passing through

And it’s no sacrifice
Just a simple word
It’s two hearts living
In two separate worlds
But it’s no sacrifice
No sacrifice
It’s no sacrifice at all

Mutual misunderstanding
After the fact
Sensitivity builds a prison
In the final act

We lose direction
No stone unturned
No tears to damn you
When jealousy burns

Cold, cold heart
Hard done by you
Some things look better, baby
Just passing through

And it’s no sacrifice
Just a simple word
It’s two hearts living
In two separate worlds
But it’s no sacrifice
No sacrifice
It’s no sacrifice at all

Cold, cold heart
Hard done by you
Some things look better, baby
Just passing through

And it’s no sacrifice
Just a simple word
It’s two hearts living
In two separate worlds
But it’s no sacrifice
No sacrifice
It’s no sacrifice at all

No sacrifice at all
No sacrifice at all
No sacrifice at all
No sacrifice at all

Songwriters: Bernie Taupin / Elton John
Sacrifice lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ Your Song ♫

I’m in the mood for some Elton tonight, so I hope you are too!

This was one of the first songs Elton John wrote with Bernie Taupin. They met after a record company gave Elton some of Taupin’s lyrics to work with. Eventually, they both moved into John’s parents’ house, where they started working together.
The song was written in 1967, when Bernie Taupin was 17 and Elton was 20. Both Elton John and Bernie Taupin agree that this is one of their best efforts. Said Taupin:

“I think ‘Your Song’ is a gem. Our classic, I’m not sure. I’ll let others decide that. But it’s like an old friend, it means so many things on equally as many levels. It’s certainly proved its worth, and I’ve heard it sung a million times. It’s like a good dog, it’s always there.”

Elton performs this at all his concerts. He once said of this song: “I don’t think I’ve written a love song as good since.” He has called it “A perfect song,” and says that the older he gets, the more the lyrics resonate with him.

 

Your Song
Elton John

It’s a little bit funny this feeling inside
I’m not one of those who can easily hide
I don’t have much money but boy if I did
I’d buy a big house where we both could live
If I was a sculptor but then again no
Or a man who makes potions in a traveling show
Oh I know it’s not much but it’s the best I can do

My gift is my song
And this one’s for you
And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind
That I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world

I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss
Well a few of the verses well they’ve got me quite cross
But the sun’s been quite kind
While I wrote this song
It’s for people like you that oh
Keep it turned on

So excuse me forgetting
But these things I do
You see I’ve forgotten
If they’re green or they’re blue
Anyway New York, what we really mean
You’re one of the nicest crowds oh yeah, we’ve ever seen
Thank New York, you’re one of a kind
And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but
Now that it’s done

I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind
That I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind
That I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world, oh yea yeah

Writer/s: BERNIE TAUPIN, ELTON JOHN
Publisher: Universal Music Publishing Group
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

♫ That’s What Friends Are For ♫

As I was rolling cigarettes tonight, a name came to me:  Dionne Warwick.  A sometimes-overlooked talent, a beautiful lady with a beautiful voice.  So, I decided tonight would be a song from Dionne Warwick, and after I finished rolling smokes, finished my Jolly Monday post, and folded a load of laundry, I sat down to decide which song it would be.  I picked this one to listen to first, and at the 0:33 point, I felt tears welling behind my eyes.  I have no idea why, but I knew then that I had my song.

This version is the 1985 cover version by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder. This recording, billed as being by “Dionne & Friends”, was released as a charity single for AIDS research and prevention. It was a massive hit, becoming the number-one single of 1986 in the United States, and winning the Grammy Awards for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Song of the Year. It raised over $3 million for its cause.

The song was originally written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager for the 1982 movie Night Shift, where it was recorded by Rod Stewart and played over the closing credits.

Hit the full screen button, turn the volume up, and just … enjoy … feel the love …

That’s What Friends Are For
Dionne Warwick

And I never thought I’d feel this way
And as far as I’m concerned
I’m glad I got the chance to say
That I do believe, I love you

And if I should ever go away
Well, then close your eyes and try
To feel the way we do today
And then if you can remember

Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That’s what friends are for
For good times and bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
That’s what friends are for

Well, you came in loving me
And now there’s so much more I see
And so by the way
I thank you

Oh and then for the times when we’re apart
Well, then close your eyes and know
The words are coming from my heart
And then if you can remember

Keep smiling and keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That’s what friends are for
In good times and bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
That’s what friends are for

Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
That’s what friends are for
For good times and bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
That’s what friends are for

Keep smiling, keep shining
Knowing you can always count on me, for sure
Cause I tell you, that’s what friends are for
Whoa, good times and the bad times
I’ll be on your side forever more
That’s what friends are for

Songwriters: Burt F Bacharach / Carole Bayer Sager
That’s What Friends Are For lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

♫ Your Song ♫

Hey Friends!  I’ve been ranting ’til my chest aches and I’m in the mood for me some Elton John tonight, what do you think?

Written, as are most of Elton’s songs, by Bernie Taupin, the song came to life in October 1970 as the B-side to Take Me to the Pilot. Both songs received airplay, but Your Song was preferred by disc jockeys and replaced Take Me to the Pilot as the A-side, eventually making it to number eight on the Billboard chart. The song also peaked at number seven on the UK Singles Chart, as well as charting in the top 10 in several other countries.

Your Song was first released by American rock band Three Dog Night in March 1970 on their third studio album, It Ain’t Easy. John was an opening act for the band at the time and allowed them to record it. They did not release it as a single as they wanted to let John, then an upcoming artist, have a go with it.

In 1998, Your Song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2004 the song was placed at number 137 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, as well as in its 2010 list.

Your Song
Elton John

It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside
I’m not one of those who can easily hide
I don’t have much money, but boy if I did
I’d buy a big house where we both could live

If I was a sculptor, but, but then again, no
Or a woman who makes potions on a traveling show
I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I can do
My gift is my song, and this one’s for you

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is, now you’re in the world

I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss
Well, a few of the verses, well, they’ve got me quite cross
But the sun’s been quite kind while I wrote this song
It’s for people like you that keep it turned on

So excuse me forgetting, but these things I do
You see, I’ve forgotten if they’re green or they’re blue
Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean
It’s yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is, now you’re in the world

I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is, now you’re in, you’re in, you’re in, you’re in the world

Songwriters: Bernie Taupin / Elton John
Your Song lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ 2Cellos — Thunderstruck ♫

Typically, on these music posts I play music that has long been among my favourites.  I play whatever strikes my fancy, or perhaps a tune that is stuck in my head and I need to dilute it by sharing with you, my dear friends.  But tonight, I veer a bit off-course.

Recently, our friend David introduced me to 2Cellos, and I am so taken by their music, their sheer energy, that I just have to share it!  A bit of background …

2Cellos is a Croatian cellist duo consisting of classically trained Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser. Signed to Sony Masterworks since 2011, they have released four albums and play instrumental arrangements of well-known pop and rock songs as well as classical and film music. The duo performs internationally and has been featured on several US TV shows including Glee and The Bachelor.

Hauser, born in Pula, Croatia, and Šulić, born in Maribor, Slovenia, are classically trained musicians. They met at a master class in Pula while still in their teens. Šulić—the younger of the two by a year— attended the Academy of Music in Zagreb, and then studied in Vienna. Šulić later entered London’s Royal Academy of Music. Hauser attended the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, after completing his studies at Trinity Laban in London.

Elton John asked the duo to appear with him on his 2011 summer tour, which began in Cardiff, Wales on 8 June. John, who personally called Šulić, said that he had watched the “Smooth Criminal” video and wanted 2Cellos to participate in his thirty-city tour. The two had previously performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show of 25 April 2011. 2Cellos also performed at the 2011 iTunes Festival in London.

And I had never heard them until just a few nights ago!  Well, sit back and prepare to be entertained, my friends, for these dudes have talent!

No lyrics … it’s an instrumental, silly!

♫ You Gotta Love Someone ♫

I’m in the mood for some Elton tonight … anybody else?  I can’t offer much information about this one, such as what inspired Elton and Bernie Taupin to write it, or interesting trivia about the song, for I’ve searched high and low and there just isn’t any.  Some songs have page after page of background information, but every now and again I hit on one that just has none.

It was released in 1990 as a single from the Days of Thunder soundtrack; the single was also used to promote the Rocket Records 2-CD retrospective “The Very Best of Elton John,” issued largely in overseas markets excluding the U.S., where the more expansive box set “To Be Continued…” was issued.

The single peaked at number forty-three on the Billboard Hot 100, but spent five weeks at number one on the Adult Contemporary chart, his tenth number one on the chart (which is interesting, as the single was not released in America).

So, just sit back, close your eyes and listen …

You Gotta Love Someone
Elton John

You can win the fight, you can grab a piece of the sky
You can break the rules but before you try
You gotta love someone
You gotta love someone

You can stop the world, steal the face from the moon
You can beat the clock, but before high noon
You gotta love someone
You gotta love someone

You’ve got one life with a reason
You need two hearts on one side
When you stand alone and there’s no one there
To share the way it feels inside and baby

You can cheat the devil and slice a piece of the sun
Burn up the highway but before you run
You gotta love someone
You gotta love someone

When you’re gonna play with fire
You let someone share the heat
When you’re on your own and there’s no one there
To cool the flames beneath your feet and baby

You can win the fight, you can grab a piece of the sky
You can break the rules but before you try
You gotta love someone
You gotta love someone

You gotta love someone
You gotta love someone

Songwriters: Elton John / Bernie Taupin
You Gotta Love Someone lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me ♫

Elton John has had a few hits that I didn’t care for, but for the most part I find Elton’s work strikes some chord in me and makes me either tap my feet or sit down and cry.  Either way, it’s all good.

This song’s lyrics were, as were most of Elton’s songs, written by Bernie Taupin, who said …

“My only recollections of this is that we wanted to write something big. I mean, big in that dramatic Spectory (as in Phil Spector) style, like ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.’ Hopefully being powerful without being pompous. I’m not sure that with this in mind it made me fashion the lyrics any differently. Although, in retrospect, they do seem to have a slightly more Brill Building flair to them, so it’s entirely possible that I did.

Of course, I always seem to have to revert to a crib sheet to check these things, as I just seem to have a really bad memory of my own work. In fact, it makes me think of a situation that I found myself in a few years ago watching some TV with some friends of mine. There was a game show on where one of the categories happened to be my lyrics. And there were, I believe, five questions, and four of them I got wrong.”

This was extremely difficult and frustrating to record. Elton was not satisfied with any of his vocal takes, and the producer Gus Dudgeon had fits trying to mix all the voices and instruments that went into this. In Philip Norman’s book Sir Elton: The Definitive Biography, Dudgeon said, “When Elton recorded this track, he was in a filthy mood. On some takes, he’d scream it, on others he’d mumble it, or he’d just stand there, staring at the control room. Eventually, he flung off his headphones and said, “Okay, let’s hear what we got.” When Gus played it for him, Elton said, “That’s a load of crap. You can send it to Engelbert Humperdinck, and if he doesn’t like it, you can give it to Lulu as a demo.” My, my … it’s a wonder it ever got recorded.

I am putting up two versions.  The first is the original by Elton.  In 1991 there was a George Michael concert in London on March 25, which was Elton’s 44th birthday. Elton appeared as a surprise guest at the show and the two did a duet, which was a #1 hit in both the US and UK.  I am not as fond of the duet as I am the original, but I must admit there is an energy, a camaraderie, that is great.  Since it was such a big hit, I thought I would offer both and you can watch whichever you wish … or both.  And so, without further ado …

And the duet …

Don’t Let the Sun Go Down
Elton John (and George Michael)

I can’t light no more of your darkness
All my pictures seem to fade to black and white
I’m growing tired and time stands still before me
Frozen here on the ladder of my life

It’s much too late to save myself from falling
I took a chance and changed your way of life
But you misread my meaning when I met you
Closed the door and left me blinded by the light

Don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free, oh
But losing everything is like the sun going down on me

I can’t find
Oh, the right romantic line
But see me once and see the way I feel
Don’t discard me, baby don’t
Just because you think I mean, you harm
(Just because you think I mean you harm, oh)
But these cuts I have (cuts I have)
They need love (they need love, they need love)
To help them heal

Oh, don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free, oh
‘Cause losing everything is like the sun going down on me
Don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it’s always someone else that I see, yeah
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free baby, oh
‘Cause losing everything is like the sun going down on me

Songwriters: Bernie Taupin / Elton John
Don’t Let the Sun Go Down lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

♫ Can You Feel The Love Tonight ♫

There are two versions of this song … the one from the animated Disney hit, The Lion King, and the Elton John version.  I love both … as far as the music, I am partial to the Elton one, but I have to admit that I cannot watch the Disney version without a huge smile.

The Disney version was performed in the film by Kristle Edwards, Joseph Williams, Sally Dworsky, Nathan Lane, and Ernie Sabella, but the Elton version was played over the closing credits.  The Elton version was performed by … well, Elton!

The song won the 1994 Academy Award for Best Original Song, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. It also earned Elton John the Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

Working on The Lion King was a welcome opportunity for Elton, who had a say in how the songs he wrote for the film were used. He contributed most of the songs on the soundtrack, including Circle Of Life, which was also hit (Elton says that “Circle” is a better song and more deserving of the Academy Award).

Just a few years out of rehab, the soundtrack provided a career resurgence for Elton and led to more work writing for musicals – he would later write for Aida and Billy Elliot.

Elton wrote the music, Tim Rice wrote the lyrics. Rice made a name for himself putting lyrics to showtunes by Andrew Lloyd Webber. They wrote songs for Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ, Superstar, and Evita. Like Elton, Tim Rice has been knighted.

And now … heeeeeere’s Elton …

And, in case you need a bit of a warm, fuzzy glow, here’s the Lion King clip …

Can You Feel the Love Tonight
Elton John

There’s a calm surrender to the rush of day
When the heat of the rolling world can be turned away
An enchanted moment and it sees me through
It’s enough for this restless warrior just to be with you

And can you feel the love tonight? It is where we are
It’s enough for this wide-eyed wanderer that we got this far
And can you feel the love tonight? How it’s laid to rest
It’s enough to make kings and vagabonds believe the very best

There’s a time for everyone, if they only learn
That the twisting kaleidoscope moves us all in turn
There’s a rhyme and reason to the wild outdoors
When the heart of this star-crossed voyager beats in time with yours

And can you feel the love tonight? It is where we are
It’s enough for this wide-eyed wanderer that we got this far
And can you feel the love tonight? How it’s laid to rest
It’s enough to make kings and vagabonds believe the very best
It’s enough to make kings and vagabonds believe the very best

Songwriters: Elton John / Tim Rice
Can You Feel the Love Tonight lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company