You tell me there’s an angel in your tree
Did he say he’d come to call on me
For things are getting desperate in our home
Living in the parish of the restless folks I know
If you don’t recognize these lyrics, they’re from Burn Down the Mission (but I’m sure you knew that already). Great, great, great, great song – especially live. One of my favorites in concert. (Did I mention its a great song)?
The oppressed uprising against the oppressor – albeit not so successfully. Could be religious, could be political…powerful lyrical images and the music seems to mirror that theme…starting kind of slow and building to a crescendo (the burning of the mission), slowing back down again (the upriser is taken away) and then of course the incredible crescendo again. Arguably one of his most complex tunes musically, at least from my layman’s perspective. Tempo changes, key changes, sophisticated orchestration…quite impressive!
Deep in the woods the squirrels are out today
My wife cried when they came to take me away
But what more could I do just to keep her warm
Than burn, burn, burn, burn down the mission walls
Of course, I must mention that my kids and I just love the way he says “sqwee-erls”… 🙂
I believe this was one of the tunes Elton played in his infamous 1970 concert at the Troubadour in LA. His breakthrough performance. Said the LA Times:
“Rejoice. Rock music which has been going through a rather uneventful period recently, has a new star. He’s Elton John, a 23-year-old Englishman, whose debut Tuesday night at the Troubadour was, in almost every way, magnificent.”
A star was born – and it’s still shining brightly…and he’s still playing Burn Down the Mission forty (!!!) years later.
BTW, apparently Leon Russell was in the audience at the Troubadour that night…and now they have their album “The Union” coming out on October 19th. Full circle? Kismet? I don’t know, but I have a good feeling about it!
As a side note, my husband and I used to play (or more accurately, tried to play) this song together – me on piano, he on guitar, both of us singing our hearts out. We certainly didn’t give EJ any competition, but it sure is fun to play! I must say I couldn’t ever quite get the piano solos right – I had to cheat a bit..those chords are intimidating – and he plays them so fast! Just be thankful I don’t have an MP3 of that to post!
Burn Down the Mission (Tumbleweed Connection – 1970)