Elton John: The Biography

”To me, songs are like postage stamps. You lick them, put them on a letter, and never see them again.” There, in one tidy metaphor, you have the disposable musical philosophy of Elton John, one of the most successful pop artists of all time. In this exhaustively reported biography of the singer and pianist, Philip Norman (Symphony for the Devil, Shout!) details the life and career of the facile composer who dashed off 21 melodies in three days for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Born Reggie Dwight to a troubled working-class couple in suburban London, John overcame his drab youth by embracing the outrageous in everything from fingernail-splitting pianism to wildly peacockish costumes and eyewear. When Norman is describing John’s musical life, his book delivers telling detail after dead-on anecdote after pinpoint analysis. But as the torrent of hit songs begins to ebb and the emphasis shifts to John’s personal life, the lack of access to the singer becomes problematic. Still, Elton John is nearly always revealing and entertaining — a portrait of the young artist, and his older self, as an entertaining square, but a square nonetheless. A-

Elton John: The Biography
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