Continuing with the thought of a previous post, The education of Kimoreena, I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the terms, places, historical figures, musical icons, and even pronunciations that I wouldn’t have otherwise known unless I had been listening to Elton John songs and (of course) Bernie Taupin lyrics. Some examples:
- Cyclamen (Gulliver: A genus of 23 species of perennials growing from tubers, valued for their flowers with upswept petals and variably patterned leaves).
- Valhalla (Val-Hala: In Norse mythology, Valhalla was the Great Hall of Odin, where the bravest warriors who had died in battle lived forever).
- Hienton (First Episode at Hienton: A small village on the Isle of Wight situated off the south coast of England).
- Reno (Ballad of a Well Known Gun: The Reno Gangcarried out the first three peacetime train robberies in U.S. history).
- Eiderdown (Amoreena: The down of the eider duck, used as stuffing for quilts and pillows).
- Night Jars (Come Down in Time: Medium-sized nocturnal with long wings, short legs and very short bills).
- Grimsby (Grimsby: A seaport on the Humber Estuary in Lincolnshire, England).
- Sluice (Grimsby: A water channel controlled at its head by a gate).
- Hoarding (Better Off Dead: A billboard).
- H.P. Demands (Someone Saved My Life Tonight: Refers to installment payments. H.P. stand for Hire-Purchase or Hire-Pay).
- Robert Ford (Feel Like A Bullet (In the Gun of Robert Ford): The American outlaw best known for killing Jesse James).
- Dan Dare (Dan Dare (Pilot of the Future): A British science fiction comic hero).
- Billy Bones (Billy Bones and the White Bird: Afictional character in Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island).
- Edith Piaf (Cage the Songbird: Of course, I knew of her, but after listening to this song, I discovered her).
- Gri-Gri (Amazes Me: An African talisman, amulet, or charm).
- Pernod (Planes: A brand of green, aromatic anise- and licorice-flavored liqueur, originally from France).
- Tilting giants on imaginary hills (Planes: Yes, I knew this was Don Quixote, I just never read the story, so it is alluding to when Don Quixote fought windmills that he imagined to be giants).
- Cortina (Made in England: The Cortina was Ford’s mass-market compact car and became Britain’s best-selling car of the 1970s. For some strange reason, I thought Cortina was china).
- Robert Johnson (The Wasteland: An American blues singer and musician, who died at 27, giving rise to much legend, including the myth that he sold his soul at a crossroads to achieve success).
- Catherine Wheel (The Captain and the Kid: A type of firework that, when ignited, rotates quickly, producing a display of sparks and coloured flame).
- Jimmie Rodgers (Jimmie Rodgers Dream: An American country singer, born in Meridien, Mississipi, in the early 20th century, known most widely for his rhythmic yodeling).
- Thomas Wiggins (The Ballad of Blind Tom: Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins was an African American musical prodigy on the piano).
- The Elder Utah Smith (I’ve Got 2 Wings: A traveling evangelist and guitar player who wore a pair of wings as he played).
I’m sure there are many more (and, yes, it is kind of embarrassing to admit that I didn’t know many of these!), but Bernie is obviously quite more well read than I. (I blame that on my High School English teacher who had us read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings instead of classics. Don’t get me started! But I digress).
I still have no idea what “Take Me to the Pilot” means, I’m not quite sure what a “shoorah” is, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know what a “Big Dipper” is (although that’s a Gary Osborne song).
And, of course, how can you not love Elton’s very British, very Elton pronunciations like:
- Garage (I just love to say it that way now)
- Spain (Never knew the word had 4 syllables)
- Squirrel (My kids and I love the way he says “Skwee-errrl”)
I’m such a sucker for an English accent, and especially that of a certain English gentleman singer/songwriter.