Recently I have been reacquainting myself with Elton John’s 1970 concept album Tumbleweed Connection. In that album, John and and Bernie Taupin delved into country and Americana themes. Although the album included the single “Country Comfort,” many of the songs on Tumbleweed Connection are not among the singer’s most well-known.
I always enjoy going back to lesser-known songs by music icons. It helps you re-discover their talent in a new way, separate from the songs that you already know and take for granted.
Tumbleweed Connection opens with the nearly 5-minute long “Ballad of a Well-Known Gun.” The song creates the Western setting of much of the album by chronicling the tale of a fugitive who is finally caught (“Now they’ve found me / At last they’ve found me.”). Instead of being proud of his reputation, the singer laments, “I’m tired of hearing / There goes a well-known gun.”
The duo Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley recently dusted off “Ballad of a Well-Known Gun” and gave it a Bluegrass twist on their album, The Country Blues. Like Elton John, they use the track to open the record.
Ickes and Hensley had worked separately as session musicians for a number of Nashville’s big names while making other recordings before teaming up. Ickes first discovered Hensley’s vocal talent when he heard Hensley’s scratch vocal for an album that Ickes’s band Blue Highway was making. The band had planned to use a guest vocal but liked Hensley’s voice so much they used him for the released version of the song.
After that, Hensley moved to Nashville and has been working with the older Ickes. In 2015, the two released Before the Sun Goes Down, which was nominated for the Best Bluegrass Album Grammy.
Their recent album The Country Blues features covers like the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” as well as an original track. If you are a fan of bluegrass music, check it out.
On The Late Late Show with James Corden, the host often brings us “Carpool Karaoke,” where Corden drives around with a famous singer (or singers) in the car while Corden and his guest sing together. In the most recent segment of “Carpool Karaoke,” the great Elton John jumped in the passenger seat.
During the segment, Corden and John belt out classics like “Your Song,” “I’m Still Standing,” “Crocodile Rock,” “Tiny Dancer,” “The Circle of Life,” and ending with a rainy day “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” John also answers some questions about topics such as his outfits and why he has four copies of every record he purchases. Check it out.
What song would you like to sing with Elton John? Leave your two cents in the comments.
Engelbert Humperdinck recently released a new album of duets, Engelbert Calling(2014). On one of the tracks, Willie Nelson joins Humperdinck on “Make You Feel My Love,” a song that Chimesfreedom has discussed as one of Bob Dylan’s Late Career Classics. This collaboration is somewhat unusual. I am guessing this recording is one of those duets you are either going to love or hate, so check it out and judge for yourself.
Other artists that appear on Engelbert Calling include Elton John, Cliff Richards, Shelby Lynne, Dionne Warwick, and Il Divo.
What do you think of the combination of Nelson and Humperdinck on a Dylan song? Leave your two cents in the comments.
Reminding us of the old days when mega-stars would gather together to sing a song to benefit a charity, the BBC is celebrating the launch of BBC Music with a charity single version of the 1966 Beach Boys classic “God Only Knows” to benefit the BBC’s Children in Need appeal. Produced by Ethan Johns, the song is being released by Sony, and Universal, and Warner Music.
The singers include the song’s writer, Brian Wilson. Other stars include Elton John, One Direction, Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams, Lorde, Emeli Sandé, Chris Martin, Kylie Minogue, Sam Smith, Florence Welch, Chrissie Hynde, Brian May, Dave Grohl, and Baaba Maal. The song also features the Tees Valley Youth Choir and the BBC Concert Orchestra. Check out the “God Only Knows” video, which includes some cool special effects.
The video was filmed at the Alexandra Palace theatre in London.
Elton John‘s first hit, “Your Song,” has remained one of his most timeless since it first scaled the charts in 1970. Songwriter Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics when he was only 17, but it could have been a hit in any decade.
John has played the song in concert thousands of times since it led off his self-titled second album in 1970, and I have heard it almost as many. Check out this video montage of John singing the song through the years.
What is your favorite Elton John song? Leave your two cents in the comments.