Elton John doesn’t write much in the
keys but when he does, the results are often excellent.
This one is an all around treat, most notably for the evocative
lyrics and Elton's heart wrenching vocal. It has definitely
achieved cult status among hardcore fans and the occasional
live performances of it are eagerly anticipated. That makes
it a perfect item on the Café menu.
The simple solo piano accompaniment is a very welcome change
of pace even within the more stripped down approach to arrangements
in Tumbleweed. Rather than arpeggiating this song like he
does so many of his (particularly early) ballads, he plays
chords on the beat. With the more subdued accompaniment,
Elton has room to throw in lots of improvised blues riffs (keyboardists just love C blues riffs).
Talking is all about expression and feel. A variety of means
are used to accomplish this within the confines of the simple
Cm-G-Ab harmonic structure. The tempo is rubato, slowing
and speeding up throughout the song. Some bars are extended
by an extra couple of beats to draw out a passage. The chord
voicings vary from soft 3-note chords in the middle register
to fortissimo 7-note chords across a 4-octave register span.
Elton’s singing also ranges from soft to ferocious
with lots of vocal ornamentals thrown in to the basic melody.
As with many of Bernie's great lyrics, he seems to be describing
a scene or a picture that exists in his mind. Frequently
his pictures are filled with interesting characters and some
kind of story that unfolds before you. Talking is another
one of these vignettes. Combined with Elton's melody, it's
a beautiful and melancholy view of the world from one tired