Elton John – “Your Song”
Love songs generally have a harder time finding their way into my musical repertoire. It’s not because I think they’re “sissy stuff” or anything, but most love songs (especially what is traditionally thought of as a “love song”) are generally pretty slow for my tastes. I like my music to be nice and energetic, so I can wail on life as need be; with that sort of philosophical aspiration, it’s hard to find time to slow things down. Moreover, I find that many love songs have an overblown quality to them; it feels like they’re simply putting on a show, and something about them feels a bit dishonest.
I harbor none of these feelings towards “Your Song,” one of the most personal love songs I have ever heard. Part of what makes the song so intimate is its sparse instrumentation; there’s not much to the song apart from a piano, bass, and some slight strings in the background. Its this lack of grandeur that helps the song seem so genuine—there’s no theatrics or build up, just a man and his words.
Speaking of the words, one of my favorite aspects of the song are its lyrics, and the simple, almost stream-of-consciousness quality of them. It’s as if the man singing has no other better way to communicate how he feels than to be completely open about himself; his hopes, wishes, insecurities, uncertainties, everything. He doesn’t try for anything poetic, he simply lets his emotions come out as he feels them, giving the song a further layer of honesty.
As I said before, I’m not a real “love song” kinda guy, but if I were, you can bet “Your Song” would be my jam of choice.
PS – Please take everything I said about Elton John’s “Your Song” and disregard it when discussing the version done for Moulin Rouge! Baz Luhrmann’s rendition sounds gaudy, overproduced, and completely misses most of what makes this song great. A lot of people sure do seem to like it, though, and if you are in this camp as well, please don’t let me detract from your enjoyment of either this or “The Tango Roxanne.” Everyone’s a critic…