Flying - Intro & Excerpts
It Ain't Easy (Long John Baldry)
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243 KB
6.1 MB
Studio Version
Key: G  


In memory of Long John Baldry
January 12, 1941 - July 21, 2005

This is an amazing song that almost nobody knows about - a real rarity. It was written by the Faces (Rod Stewart, Ronnie Lane and Ron Wood) and covered by Baldry for his 1971 album, It Ain't Easy. Elton manned the keyboards and helped produce the session. Long John was a legendary British bluesman who's career began in the 1960's along with so many other great British bands. In 1971, Elton's solo career was beginning to take off in a big way, but he still took the time to record this with his old friend. My thanks to Pat D. for introducing me to it. And now I share it with you!

This is British blues in all its excess and splendor and Elton just rips through it all. The song has several sections and a long, long, long jam section at the end. Elton uses 3 distinct styles of playing through it:

    • The first part of the song uses what I would call the Nicky Hopkins style: lots of open octave work, chord partials with added 9ths, etc. (In case you don't know, Nicky Hopkins defined rock and roll piano in the 1960s as a session player on albums by the Rolling Stones, Beatles, the Who, the Kinks and others. He also sat in with Jefferson Airplane on the Woodstock album.)
    • In a couple of brief interludes, Elton plays a "tinkling" piano style.
    • And finally, Elton does some real blues-bangin right hand riffs ala Jerry Lee and Little Richard at the top of the piano. If you ever wondered what the heck those guys are playing, here's your chance to see it notated.

It's all great stuff and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.