Song Of The Day 1/5/2015: Elton John - "Elderberry Wine"

B-Sides Week '15: "Elderberry Wine" is one of my favorite Elton John tracks. It's from his 1972 album Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player, which was sort of Elton's transitional point from his suede-jacket, sensitively mystic, ye olde bard phase into his glitter-dependent, Donald Duck-costumed, man-of-a-thousand-eyeglass-frames era. "Crocodile Rock," the chugging '50s knockoff that kicked waif-boy in the 'nads, was the Top 40 catalyst that signified the changing winds, and "Elderberry Wine" was its B-side.

"Elderberry Wine" also continues lyricist Bernie Taupin's casual obsession with hallmarks of the American South, which is a neat trick considering his muse was a student at the Royal Academy of Music originally from Middlesex, but you take it where you find it, amirite? This cartography-defiant leitmotif carried the pair through the entire, excellent Tumbleweed Connection album, portions of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (including a SOTD from this feature's first year of existence), and the titular Western half of Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. "Elderberry Wine" echoes the heedless joys of the lower-income strata of this part of the country, including dogs, bills past due, and the longing memory of a time when the husband's itinerant wife "aimed to please me, cooked black-eyed peas-me."

Elderberries grow in shrubs in various areas from Eastern Texas up to the southeastern corner of South Dakota, so said wine is a home recipe those of you in that fertile crescent can whip up yourself. Here are some tips if you plan to do that. The result pairs well with pasta, chicken, ice cream and semi-soft cheese-me.


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