September 26, 1997 in Seven

Elton John’s ‘Big Picture’ Filled With Melody, Wisdom

Howard Cohen Miami Herald

The deaths this summer of two of Elton John’s close friends, Gianni Versace and Princess Diana, cast a shadow on the release of his first new CD in two years. Before, we would have simply marveled at or taken for granted the sumptuous melodies he still manages 30 years into his songwriting partnership with lyricist Bernie Taupin. Now, we’re tempted to look to “The Big Picture” for answers and insight, or at the least, hope.

“The Big Picture” was mastered before Diana’s death and before John’s stirring performance of a newly written “Candle in the Wind” at her funeral (the song is not on “The Big Picture” but is available separately), but it’s filled with prescient views on mortality, spirituality and the desire for acceptance. The CD leads with the somber ballad “Long Way From Happiness,” which seems unusually poignant juxtaposed against the dual tragedies in John’s life.The classically inspired “Live Like Horses,” with its plea for personal freedom and expression in a restrictive world, can be taken as a call for openness on any number of levels - sexual, intellectual, religious. The tuneful ballad is classic Elton John.

And so is the infectious melody pulsing within the rhythmic closer, “Wicked Dreams.”

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