Two songs, fifty years.

transparent man in room
Photo by Flavian Hautbois

I listened to Tumbleweed Connection again. How many times now? At least in the hundreds.

Come Down in Time may be the most emotionally evocative and compositionally perfect song Elton John and Bernie Taupin ever created together.

In the era of push-button repeat, I have never listened to it just once. I have to force myself to move on. There are other songs after all.

By the end of the first line it’s all soft light, creaking wooden staircases and memory laden silence.

In the quiet silent seconds I turned off the light switch
And I came down to meet you in the half light the moon left

An oboe, a harp, a perfect string arrangement, and you are in this moment.

In the second verse, waiting.

Well I don’t know if I should have heard her as yet
But a true love like hers is a hard love to get
And I’ve walked most all the way and I ain’t heard her call
And I’m getting to thinking if she’s coming at all

I already know this part.
But I wait anyway.
I know it will be fruitless.
Still, there was that one time when she did come back.

Then the truth, in an exquisite coda.

There are women, women, and some hold you tight
While some leave you counting the stars in the night.

The erotically charged Amoreena is a relief, describing a memory of desire without the drowning weight of loss.

I can see you sitting, eating
Apples in the evening
The fruit juice, flowing slowly, slowly, slowly
Down the bronze of your body

Elton was quite good at stoking the intensity of my adolescent longings…and my adult ones too, to be honest.

In his 1970s heyday, I was enraptured and clueless. While my friends were wearing more overtly masculine Zeppelin and The Who and Deep Purple t-shirts (groups whose music I also loved,) I stumbled down the aisle of the school bus smashing my trombone case into seats and students alike, proudly sporting a pink shirt emblazoned with Elton in a top hat and rhinestone studded glasses.

Like the jerking, forward motion of that bus, I lurched toward my future. There was nothing elegant or cool about my progress.

Now, after all these years, I’m still clueless, I’m just not as innocent. We all come down in time.


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