We all know the classics: "Rocket Man", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", "Your Song", "Tiny Dancer", "Bennie and the Jets", the list of mega hits goes on and on. But Elton was, is and always be more than just the hits and these are the five most underrated, overlooked and undeniably CLASSIC Elton John songs!
1. "Sixty Years On" (1970)
Just as Elton was about to dominate the charts in the first half of the 70s, he played a live radio broadcast performance for WABC-FM at A&R Recording Studios in New York City on November 17th, 1970. It would eventually lead to a live album, which included six of the 13 songs performed, one being "Sixty Years On".
This song originally comes from Elton's 1970 self-titled second studio album but first entered my universe via the live version, so I've always had an affinity for this one. It's a haunting depiction of a young man wondering what life will be like when he reaches 60 years of age. The lyrics by Bernie Taupin are (no surprise) brilliant:
Who'll walk me down to church when I'm sixty years of age
When the ragged dog they gave me has been ten years in the grave
And senorita play guitar, play it just for you
My rosary has broken and my beads have all slipped through
2. "Bad Side Of The Moon" (1970)
Another early Elton John/Bernie Taupin composition, this was a B-side to 1970's "Border Song". In Elizabeth Rosenthal's book His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John, Elton attributes it to Bernie's passion for science fiction.
3. "All The Girls Love Alice" (1973)
With all the hits on 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road', it's so easy to overlook this one, which is a shame so today, we give "Alice" some much deserved love. This is another from the catalogue of darker Elton/Bernie songs. It's about a young girl who gets seduced by the naughty ladies. Sadly, she winds up dead in the streets. This song marked the first time Elton sang about a gay character.
4. "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" (1972)
Inspired by Bernie Taupin's first visit to New York, this is one of Elton's personal favorites. It was also influenced by Ben E. King's 1960 song "Spanish Harlem" as you'll hear in the opening lyrics.
5. "Madman Across the Water" (1971)
Elton John was a huge fan of Leon Russell and would later collaborate with Leon for 2010's 'The Union' album. On 1971's "Madman Across The Water", you can certainly hear the Leon influence. Bernie Taupin's lyrics tell the fictional story of a lunatic ranting on visiting day at the asylum. Some believe that Elton was singing about United States president Richard Nixon but Taupin says that wasn't the case, although he was quite amused by the interpretation.
What's your "Top Five Most Underrated Elton John Songs" list? Let me know in the comment section below!