If I’ve been naturally concentrating on the more uptempo Elton John singles, it must be said that he was also an absolute auteur of the big piano ballad.
While his first big single was “Your Song’; “Tiny Dancer” figured prominently in Almost Famous and “Candle in the Wind” somehow became a standard, I prefer 1974’s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me.”
That it starts off so quietly and ends up so damn huge isn’t why I love it, though that helps. I think that is the long long melody line that dominates the chorus.
Don’t let the sun go down on me
(Don’t let the sun)
Although I searched myself, it’s always someone else I see
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander freeeeeeeeeeeee
But losing everything
Is like the sun going down on me
While the melody of “I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander freee” might be the most beautiful thing he ever sang, the stop in the middle of the chorus is where the genius lies.
It’s built and built and built and suddenly — absolutely nothing. But only for a split second, as all of the instruments and emotion that have built up have no other choice but come crashing down like the sun.
It’s utterly shameless — though not as shameless as singing “Don’t disgard me” — and I could absolutely give a shit, because it’s also utterly pop genius, right down to the modulation before the last chorus and Beatlesque trumpets at the end.
Fan-made video for “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me”