Dave Laing [+–]
University of Liverpool
Dave Laing is a writer, editor and lecturer, and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool. His works include The Sound of our Time (1969), Buddy Holly (1970), One Chord Wonders: Power and Meaning in Punk Rock (1985) and (with Phil Hardy) The Faber Companion to 20th Century Popular Music (1995). He is an editor of the Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World whose first volumes were published in 2003.
The book assesses the music of Elton John, discussing the composer’s career in the context of the music industry and his contributions to contemporary popular culture.
Series: Icons of Pop Music
Table of Contents
From Reg to Elton [+–]
This chapter provides an introductory overview of Elton John’s achievement through an assessment of his evolution from journeyman pianist and songwriter Reginald Dwight (his given name) to Elton John, the flamboyant showman and prolific composer of over 300 songs, mostly with lyricist Bernie Taupin. In particular, the chapter examines the matrix of social, familial and cultural factors from which Elton John’s mature style was forged.
The Composer [+–]
This chapter examines Elton John’s oeuvre, and in particular his songwriting partnership with Taupin. The range of their compositions and the recurrent motifs to be found in them is discussed, as will Elton’s collaborations with other lyricists, from Tom Robinson to Tim Rice. The accounts of specific songs will not involve detailed musicological analysis and are designed to be intelligible to the non-specialist.
On Record [+–]
Following directly from Chapter 2, this chapter is concerned with the key characteristics of Elton John’s vocal and instrumental work, as demonstrated on almost thirty albums worth of studio recordings. In particular, the different facets of his singing style are examined, as will the debt to rock ‘n’ roll and soul pianists evident in his playing.
On Stage [+–]
In an era when the consensus is that popular music is dominated by recordings, Elton John’s musical reputation has been established as much through his performance style as by his studio work. This chapter deals with the various elements of his concert performances, including costume, choreography, set lists (the sequence of songs in the concert) and the range of ensembles, from solo percussionist to symphony orchestra, that have accompanied Elton John on stage.
Another feature of the Elton John persona shared with Paul McCartney is his status as a show business, media and international celebrity, which reached a peak with his performance at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. After a brief discussion of the nature of ‘celebrity’, this chapter explores the public narrative of Elton John’s life, constructed through such themes as addiction, sexuality and charity. Chapter 6. The Critical Response The book concludes with an examination and analysis of the various explanations of Elton John’s work and life proposed by a range of biographers, media commentators and music critics.
The book concludes with an examination and analysis of the various explanations of Elton John’s work and life proposed by a range of biographers, media commentators and music critics.