Something About The Way
You Look Tonight
The Big Picture
Live at the Ritz


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Live Solo Piano Version
Key: F Structure: A-B-A-B-B

Elton performs this version of Something About The Way You Look as a solo piano number on the specially released Live at The Ritz album. The recording is from a January 1998 performance. As originally released on 1997's The Big Picture album, the song had a rather generic adult contemporary sound to it. It was as if Elton was trying to create elevator music. The arrangement featured strings, Paul Carrack doing some gospel style organ and a very smooth restrained vocal.

But the fact of the matter is, even though the arrangement hides it, Elton is still a great songwriter. When he reinvigorates it through this solo piano arrangement, you get a very different perspective on the song. It features a full bodied piano assault, chock full of prototypical Elton flourishes, and a passionate vocal. Let's take a look.

Something About has a very strong gospel feel to it, lyrically, stylistically and harmonically. The intro immediately evokes this feel as Elton uses a parallel hands descending chord progression. This leads to an echoed C-F-C figure and then right into the verse. Elton regularly employs this gospel feel in his work.

The song is written in the key of F and uses a strong 8-bar structure. Elton employs his 16th note Mozart style of accompaniment, liberally tossing in chord riffs, syncopations and 32nd note flourishes throughout the song. Combined with a dynamic, almost aggressive performance, and lots of big chords throughout, this treatment makes Something far more exciting than the studio version.

The little octave run at the end of the first bar is also characteristic of the gospel style.

Looking at the chord patterns, the verse first makes a jump from the F to the Am7. How does that work harmonically? Well the Am7 is the relative minor of C which is the V-chord in F. You can think of the Am7 as a substitute chord for a standard I-V progression. But what the Am7 does for you is set you up for a circle-of-4ths move to the Dm, the vi-chord. We then descend diatonically to the Bb and then to the relative minor of Bb, Gm. This is the ii-chord which then naturally leads to C, the V-chord.

The chorus starts off with a great variation on the verse by jumping to the A7 in the 2nd bar. This a very common harmonic device in gospel music. Harmonically you're playing the dominant chord of a key, also called a secondary dominant, representing a temporary modulation. In this case, the A7 is the dominant of the D-minor key. A bar or 2 later, he goes from a Dm to a D7, the dominant of the G-minor key. G-minor allows him to get back to C, the dominant for the home key of F.

I think this is a fun song to play because of the flourishes and the gospel feel. It's another strong example of Elton's style and I hope you enjoy it as well.