Dear Elton Pt 1: Tiny Dancer
Whether or not you care for Elton John, we all take him for granted.
I mean, to argue about Elton John would be a little like arguing about Mt. Everest. It won't change anything. He just is.
The Elton Formula of sweeping melodies over slowed-down gospel chords and either a super-lazy (Candle In The Wind) or a charging (Crocodile Rock) shuffle has been deployed steadily now for almost five decades. The schmaltz was huge in the 70s, and he's mostly been on cruise control ever since - which is not to say you should overlook him.
His hits have this weird way of rising from the dead, at just the right time, long after you forgot them. And he's been around forever. People can love him or hate him but he's a traceable element on our musical periodic table. For example, you'll find a high Eltonium content in the later work of Phil Collins.
Of course, tugging on heartstrings is a mysterious business and if you overdo it people will get turned off. A lot of us are careful to avoid Eltonisms for fear of sounding too broadway. Pour on the schmaltz too thick and you'll get branded for life as a cabaret act (or worse - a wedding singer!) But Elton gets away with it most of the time. Like those magical birthday candles that keep relighting themselves (in the wind?), long-forgotten Elton songs tend to boomerang back into view at the right time, taking on a whole new life (and a new audience). The movie "Almost Famous" was the best commercial for Tiny Dancer ever.
This song is in our DNA: