I Want Love was the first single from this
eagerly anticipated album and it's a song that continues
to fascinate me. While it is truly brilliant in its own right,
it is also quite a different sounding song from what Elton
fans might of expected. In fact that may just be the point
from Elton's perspective. I Want Love is Elton's tribute
to the Beatles sound. I say this for several reasons.
First the lyrics and Elton's delivery. I read one writer
describe this song as aching and I would have to agree. The
song comes off as an emotional open wound. You would be hard
pressed to name 2 or 3 Elton and Bernie songs that present
this kind of raw direct emotion. In fact the lack of honest
emotions has sometimes been used as a criticism of Bernie's
lyrics. For me it recalls the best of Lennon and even George's
Then there's Elton's playing. This is simple unadorned playing,
the kind of playing a lot of non-pianists employ because
it is so straightforward and easy to play. It's just bangin
chords on the quarter note pulse. This is really rare for
Elton but very typical for John and Paul. (Note I've juiced
up the transcription a little. I can't hear the piano that
well so I figured I might as well make it a little more fun
to play.) Also I don't know anything about effects, but to
me the piano has a compressed sound to it - something else
that's not Elton-like.
From the harmonic standpoint, there is a defining modulation
throughout the song that most definitely has that Beatle
flair to it. You can hear it right off the bat in the intro
when Elton drops chromatically from the C#m to a C and then
up to the D.
|| A - F#m - | C#m - - - | C - D - | A - F#m - | C - D
This C to D move leading back to the root key of A is also
used prominently in the chorus.
A couple other Beatle observations. Davey's electric guitar
sounds pretty much like George Harrison to me, from the fuzzy
tone to the simple but elegant lines he picks out throughout
the song. And wonder of wonders, there's a guitar solo in
this song that sounds like vintage George as well!
And oh yeah, lets not forget that Billy Preston, the 5th
Beatle, adds some tasty little organ work to whole mix.
George Harrison died about 2 months after the release of
this song after a long losing battle with cancer.
There's no dedication listed here, but I think it's pretty
obvious that this is Elton and Bernie's tribute to the Beatles.