Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Sublime or Ridiculous?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sublime or Ridiculous?

Although I don't think the subject has ever come up on this blog, I'm not a particular fan of Bernie Taupin. Of all successful lyricists, he's got to be among the worst. He's cowritten huge songs, but many of them are lyrically awful. Although I understand what he's trying to do in "Your Song," he's amazingly heavy-handed, and my own personal bete noire is the overuse if the word quite--it's in the chorus and in two lines in a row in a later verse. Come on, you're a poet. Use a thesaurus! "Rocket Man" is also among his worst, particularly the second verse. Thus, it was a delight when, earlier this week, Mark Evanier posted a pretty good copy of William Shatner's cover of the song at 1978's Science Fiction Film Awards. Trust me, it's a match made in heaven. The audience deserves special notice for somehow holding straight faces through the whole thing. I'll also follow Evanier's lead and suggest that you follow that clip with one of Chris Elliott covering Shatner's cover. Have fun!


At 3:29 PM, May 18, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must admit to an excessive fondness for Elton John's work. I own at least a couple dozen of his albums, surely more than any other artist in my collection, and I've seen him in concert on 3 separate occasions. Having said all that, I've puzzled and frowned at Taupin's often cryptic lyrics many a time. I have to say, though, that I acquired a new appreciation for Bernie's work during the time when Elton was instead collaborating with other lyricists. For example, one listen to Gary Osborne's flat, one-dimensional lyrics for the song Little Jeannie was enough to send me scurrying back to Taupin, who has a way of evoking moods and feelings even when I don't know what the hell he's talking about.

At 10:49 PM, May 18, 2008, Anonymous stevie t said...

I memorized many of Elton John's songs when I was little and didn't understand any of the lyrics I was memorizing (Bowie, Tull, Elvis Costello...). So they never bothered me especially. It's only recently that I've thought about how so many huge hits could have such mediocre lyrics.

These videos are priceless. But I thought that the Shatner spoken-record phase was in the 60's when Star Trek was on. Weren't people laughing at it by 1978?

At 1:58 PM, May 19, 2008, Anonymous Doug said...

You're forgetting the movies. This was two years before the first Star Trek movie, when people were beginning to realize what a huge cult following the show really had. And although Shatner had already released his first album by this time, it hadn't made a big splash, so his reputation as a "singer" hadn't solidified yet.


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