1973, Music

Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player (1973) by Elton John

I have no idea how this is the Elton John record I ended up first giving three full listens to. Sometimes these things happen, I guess, but after listening to it I’m pretty sure it was the wrong one for me. For some reason I listened to Honky Chateau once last May and then decided to not include it on the podcast. That feels like a mistake after listening to this.

I guess the above would suggest that I hate this record but I don’t. It’s rather that I don’t feel much of anything. All the tracks outside of the singles made no impression on me, really. Every time I listen to them it’s as if I haven’t heard them before. I guess what I’m trying to say is that their melodies are not super memorable and that’s a surprise given John’s knack for melody.

The singles are different, of course. We’ve all heard them. (Well, we’ve all heard “Crocodile Rock” and everyone in Canada has heard “Daniel.”) “Daniel” is surprisingly syrupy for a song supposedly about a Vietnam vet returning home from the war. If that’s really what it’s about, John seems to have not communicated with Bernie Taupin about it, or it sure doesn’t sound like it.

And “Crocodile Rock” is a lark (admitted by both of them). It works better than most tracks done for a laugh (and was far more successful than most) but I’d be really surprised if a serious Elton John fan told me it was their favourite song.

Everything else barely makes an impression. Though this was a massive hit, it’s very, very average.


All songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

  1. “Daniel” – 3:54
  2. “Teacher I Need You” – 4:10
  3. “Elderberry Wine” – 3:34
  4. “Blues for My Baby and Me” – 5:42
  5. “Midnight Creeper” – 3:55
  6. “Have Mercy on the Criminal” – 5:57
  7. “I’m Gonna Be a Teenage Idol” – 3:55
  8. “Texan Love Song” – 3:33
  9. “Crocodile Rock” – 3:58
  10. “High Flying Bird” – 4:12
  • Elton John – vocals, acoustic piano (tracks 2-4, 6, 7, 9, 10), electric piano (tracks 1, 5), Leslie piano (track 7), Farfisa organ (track 9), harmonium (8), mellotron (1, 2)
  • Davey Johnstone – acoustic, electric, and Leslie guitars (All tracks); banjo (track 1), sitar (4), mandolin (8), backing vocals (2, 7, 10)
  • Dee Murray – bass guitar (All tracks), backing vocals (tracks 2, 7, 10)
  • Nigel Olsson – drums (All tracks), maracas (track 1), backing vocals (tracks 2, 7, 10)

Additional musicians

  • Ken Scott – ARP synthesizer (track 1)
  • Gus Dudgeon – brass arrangement (tracks 3, 5, 7)
  • Paul Buckmaster – orchestral arrangement (tracks 4, 6)
  • Jacques Bolognesi – trombone (tracks 3, 5, 7)
  • Ivan Jullien – trumpet (tracks 3, 5, 7)
  • Jean-Louis Chautemps, Alain Hatot – saxophones (tracks 3, 5, 7)

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