Elton John Accomplishments

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There is something wondrous about Elton John, and something monstrous. The preeminent popular musician of the Seventies seems out of time, untouched by the decade 's confusion. Yet he is ravenously contemporary. Although he partakes of none of the defiant irony and isolation that sustains Dylan and Randy Newman and Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, there is no nostalgia about the man either, no namby-pamby religionism or pastoralism, no nuke-fam posturing to comfort the young marrieds; he is not spacey like David Bowie or stuck in a mold like the Stones and the Who and Led Zep. He is just Elton John, moving with the world as only a cynosure can; the most eloquent thing to be said about him is that he is a Rock Star. He consumes music omnivorously--his tastes suggest fuel rather than food--and pursues fame with such single-minded compulsion that to accuse him of escapism sounds silly, like accusing a runaway freight train of antisocial tendencies.

Always the metaphors that arise are mechanical. As the great inheritor of Philadelphia pop-rock, in which rock and roll ceases to be an uncontrolled natural force and turns into a product
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Or both.

For a good hook does not guarantee aesthetic merit--it is merely a means to aesthetic merit, and far from foolproof. The chorus of "Take Me to the Pilot" is as compelling a melody as John has ever recorded, but the lyric is gibberish which has drained energy from singers as honest as Ben E. King and Patti LaBelle, and every time the melody leads you to the gibberish there is reason to resent it more. Or again: John 's affected pronunciation of the word "discard" ("diszgard") on "Don 't Let the Sun" is a kind of hook in itself, and also a turn-off in itself, an aural itch you can 't scratch. On the other hand, in "Bennie and the Jets," which is one big hook--as compelling and catchy a performance as John has ever concocted--the way some fairly standard images of pop stardom are given life by the music makes the lyrics

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