Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September's Underappreciated Music: Elton John, "Skyline Pigeon"

For this month's Underappreciated Music, I present three versions of one of my favorite Elton John songs, "Skyline Pigeon." The theme of a bird in flight representing one's search for freedom from whatever situation that is imprisoning them is an oft-used one, but I don't think it's ever been crafted into song as lovingly as in John's contribution. Here are three different recordings of the song by John, each with their own musical interpretation.

The first version is off of John's first album, Empty Sky, a small, independent release from 1969 that most fans didn't hear until it was re-released after John became a superstar. This version has a beautiful baroque feel to it that fits perfectly with the song.

The next version is a much more polished production that is much more in the style of his early 70s output. It was recorded during the sessions for his 1973 album Don't Shoot, I'm Only the Piano Player and released as a b-side to his hit single "Daniel."

Finally, here is the first version I ever heard, a live version recorded at Royal Albert Hall and released on the 1976 Here and There album. This is probably my favorite, as it's just Elton and his piano, pouring his heart out through the keys. It usually takes me a few listens for a song to really have an emotional impact on me, but I was hooked on this recording the very first time I heard it!

I hope you enjoyed this great song as much as I did. Thanks!

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