I Need You To Turn To
Elton John
280 KB
2.5 MB
Live Solo Piano Version
Key: Em Structure: A-B-A-B

Sometimes I just get inspired to work on a particular song. With this one, it started with a fan sending me what he thought was a transcription of this performance. I'm always open to submissions from anyone, but they have to be of "reasonable" quality. As I was looking at it and noting the differences, I decided what the heck- I love this song. I'm just gonna do it!

And I especially want to dedicate this to my amazing and wonderful wife, Christine. You're my guardian angel!

I Need You is a good example of the classical sound Elton achieved on the Elton John album. It's in 3/4 (waltz) time, and features Elton's arpeggiating style. The original was played on a harpsichord, accompanied by acoustic guitar and of course Paul Buckmaster's incredible string arrangements. This solo treatment, recorded at a Christmas show in 1974, gives you a chance to see how Elton translated the song to piano.

This is an excellent song for the beginning to intermediate pianist, particularly if you've had a few years of classical training. One of Elton's dominant styles is an arpeggiated or broken chord style of play, which he uses in his right hand. Sometimes I'll call this his "Mozart" style of playing, in reference to the arpeggiated style that Mozart used in his left hand (usually referred to as an alberti bass style). But one thing you learn very quickly about Elton, he doesn't stick to simple arpeggios. He's got a highly evolved approach that's filled with riffs, passing tones and other devices that make his music an absolute treat to play.

The figure above illustrates my point. The basic chord progression is Em - D - G - A - Am - Em. Anyone could do some type of arpeggio figure with these chords and the song would sound alright. If you're a pianist, go ahead and try it. You'll see that it sounds fine.

But you'll also discover that it begins to sound repetitous and boring compared to Elton. That's exactly the point. Look at a couple examples of the types of things that Elton does when he's playing his "Mozart" style.

    1. Added 9ths and 4ths. You can call these suspensions, sus chords, 9-3 resolutions or whatever you want. The bottomline is he tosses these in as riffs, either on-the-beat or off-the-beat, or as passing tones. And he rarely repeats himself with these devices. They change and evolve throughout a performance. He literally has dozens and dozens of variations of these at his command.
    2. I call these anticipations or lead-ins. Elton leads into the harmony in the next measure by playing notes that are not in the chord from the current measure. MOST PEOPLE MISS THIS CRUCIAL ELEMENT IN ELTON'S PLAYING.

In a nutshell, this is what gives Elton's sound its richness. It's uniquely Elton.

As always, I hope you enjoy this addition to Elton's Cafe. Oh and my apologies. The MP3 file is a little off-pitch. I don't have a way to correct it.