Playing Favorites 07/30/2022

I wonder if anyone in my small cadre of readers watches Rick Beatto on You Tube.  According to Wikipedia, Rick is an American YouTube personality, multi-instrumentalist, music producer and educator. He is known for his YouTube channel, Everything Music, where he covers different aspects of rock, jazz, and popular music, and interviews well-known musicians and producers.  Watching Rick, I know he loves music like I love music … and understands it as I never will.   One of his features is What Makes This Song Great in which he dissects the performance of a song both literally by playing different instrumental and vocal parts separately and figuratively by talking about the chord progressions, playing styles, and instruments.  The latter is far beyond my limited music education but I still enjoy it and hearing the way a performance is put together is fascinating.

Screenshot_20220528-180650_InstagramLast night, after my wife and I watched two episodes of Ted Lasso and I finished the remarkable Ken Burns biography of Mark Twain, I surfed through my YouTube until I found What Makes This Song Great? Episode 113 – Elton John’s Tiny Dancer, a favorite of mine (that’s my grandaughter … my tiny dance … on the left).   After listening to Rick’s analysis of the song, I appreciate it even more.  One of the things Beatto points out is that the song is over 6 minutes long and doesn’t come to the first chorus (which limited its airplay at first) … and what a chorus, filled with interesting harmonies and instrumentation.

But, oh, how it feels so real
Lying here with no one near
Only you, and you can hear me
When I say softly, slowly

Hold me closer, tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
You had a busy day today
Hold me closer, tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
You had a busy day today

If you are so inclined, you can listen to Rick Beatto’s analysis here.  For the rest of you who choose to just  listen to the song (please tell me there are a few of you), I’ll just tell you that it came out in 1972 on John’s Madman Across the Water and was about his then wife, who was into ballet as a young girl and often sewed patches onto John’s clothes for his performances, hence tiny dancer and seamstress for the band in the lyrics.  Incidentally, it was meant to capture the spirit of California after his first visit, as the video shows.

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