Peachtree Sampler
Peachtree Road
Studio Version

Peachtree Road, like much of Elton's recent work, is primarily filled with ballads. While some fans would have preferred some uptempo songs, there is no doubt that Elton's songwriting ability is as strong as ever. In fact some of the songs are as harmonically rich and sophisticated as anything Elton has ever written. There is much to appreciate here even if there isn't a strong Top-40 single on the album.

But I have to admit, when I look at an Elton album, I look at it as a piano player. A piano player who loves playing Elton's music. For me, the big problem with this album is there isn't much piano playing going on here. There are some great songs here, but with the exception of Too Many Tears, we're presented with song after song where Elton just bangs chords on a quarter note pulse. IT'S A MAJOR CASE OF BORING HERE!

For the beginning piano player however, this is a good album for learning how to play from a chord chart. Visit my friends over at Elton John Chords and you can pick up the chord charts for Peachtree.

So for this sampler plate, I'm gonna give you some bits and pieces from some of my favorites on the album.

For you guys who are new at playing Elton, compare these scores against the chord charts. My scores show the actual voicings that Elton is playing, but ultimately, the exact notes Elton plays are not that important. Elton will play them differently every time he sits down. Get used to working from a chord chart. You'll be better off in the long run.

The Peachtree Sampler Plate gives you partial scores to 4 luscious songs. No midi files this time! Just enough of these songs to get started on your own. Maybe sometime I'll complete these songs or perhaps maybe I'll even add a couple more.


Weight of the World

Elton starts off the album with a superb statement about the tranquility that one can find later in life: when you let go of the world's problems and just concentrate on the little things around you. As a guy who is only slightly younger that Elton, I find these to be very, very wise words indeed.

Weight might seem like a simple song, but its very deceptive. Like most of Peachtree, the piano work consists of straight chords played on the quarter note, with a few riffs tossed in. If you're an experienced keyboardist, you're probably familiar with the chord pattern in the verse.

|| I - V/I -| IV/I - - - | ii7 - - - | V - - IV | I - - - ||

We start off with chords played over a constant G-bass, a harmonic device used mostly by keyboardists that is known as pedal point. Note that the verses consist of 5 bars, not the usual 4. This happens because Bernie's lyrics are (as they often are) asymetrical in their structure. But you also have to marvel at how easily Elton is able to extend and bend our perception, making a 5-bar verse sound perfectly normal.

The chorus shifts to the relative minor key (E minor) of the root key of G. In this section, the chord progression becomes quite complex. Elton uses a ii7b5 as a dramatic substitute chord for a V (bar 16). Also the descending chromatic bassline (bars 17, 18) leads to a stunning turnaround back to the root key.

Also note, the chorus consists of 7 bars. Once again, it starts with the shape of the lyrics, but Elton then crafts an oddly sized verse and chorus that sound smooth as silk. You don't even realize how uniquely structured this song is.


I've also included the solo in the score. This is a relaxed little bit that reminds me of Bruce Hornsby. Enjoy!

Answer in the Sky

Answer is one of the simpler songs on the album. It's also an upbeat and positive song and I guess that's why I like it. To me it sounds like it could of been written for Lion King.

It's written in Bb, one of Elton's more common keys. As I've mentioned many times in these writeups, keys such as Bb and Eb work out real well for Elton. As you finger the chords on the piano, you'll discover that these keys allow the thumb and little finger, your 2 shortest digits, to spend most of their time on white keys. Your other fingers will take care of the black notes. Much of Elton's playing style and his sound rely on this approach to playing and voicing chords.

My Elusive Drug

In my mind, Elusive represents the most stunning song on Peachtree. The lyrics are just raw emotions. This is something that Elton and Bernie (for all their good points) don't give us very often. Elton matches it with some of the most sophisticated harmonies he has ever devised. The result is a poignant, melancholy masterpiece.

I'm not going to try and analyze this one - it would just take too long. The harmony bounces around so much, this is a difficult song to even pin down what key we're in. Here are a few key points.

  • How about the opening 2 bars? A parallel modulation from F to Fm. The F chord is in Bb. The Fm chord is in Eb, Ab, or its relative minor key of F-minor. WHAT KEY ARE WE IN? Elton isn't going to make it easy for us to know.
  • He again uses the 7b5 chord to dramatic effect. For some reason I didn't write it on the score as a 7b5. I guess just to keep it simpler for you guys. I call it a Gm/E in the score, but that's the same thing as an Em7b5. The Gm7/E is actually an Em9b5. The crazy thing is, this chord is used to modulate from Eb to D-minor. Or are we in Bb? Holy cow this is complicated!
  • He liberally uses ii and iii as dominant 7ths in order to modulate. Again, these pop up every few bars, and it keeps the harmony jumping.

And how about that ending.

| F A/C# Dm Dm/C | Bb - F/A - | G7 G7/B C - | Db Ab/C Bbm - | C - - - | Fm - - - ||

Elton said in an interview when he was talking about Your Song, "It has quite a lot of chords." My Elusive Drug also has quite a lot of chords.

Too Many Tears

Now here's what I call some piano playing! Elton gives us a bouncy, fun song to play - really the only song like it on Peachtree. Elton's approach should be familiar to veteran Elton piano players.

Many thanks to Brian who pointed out how similar this song is to the classic Where to Now St. Peter from Tumbleweed Connection. The intros are virtually identical!

This is another song that starts off sounding rather simple, but its not. In this one, Elton dances all around the root key, without ever hitting it. The song is in A, BUT HE NEVER PLAYS the A chord. Oh he glances over it couple of times. But when he does, the bassline isn't playing an A.

Open your ears to what's going on here. Listen to the slightly unsettled sound of the verse as Elton manipulates us around the keys of E and D, the V and IV of A. Notice the delicious way he throws in minor chords. Notice the way he pushes the harmony in different directions. That unsettled feeling occurs because he never gives you a true harmonic resolution.

The chorus is at once an amazing contrast to the verse and yet it works so beautifully emanating from it. He starts off immediately teasing us with an A/C#. The last bar of the chorus is the only, and I MEAN THE ONLY time he finally resolves this incredible progression to the root chord of A.

I hope you've enjoyed this sampler. This approach is a much quicker way for me to get music out there for you. This gives you a good head start on these songs, but you'll have to do a little more work on your own. As I mentioned before, perhaps I'll get back to these songs another time and complete them.