Apr 13

Elton John: “I’ve Seen That Movie Too” (In Memoriam: Roger Ebert)

Elton John -- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Appropriately enough, the album title’s a movie reference too.

Today’s song is a bit of a detour, in that I’m using it as an “in memoriam” song for a non-music-related passing: film critic Roger Ebert passed away yesterday, after a very long, remarkable battle with cancer. I grew up watching Siskel and Ebert, so it felt like the end of an era, one that had started to vanish when Gene Siskel passed away. But I always liked Ebert better — I found him to be the deeper and more insightful of the two. Siskel came off as a bit snide at times, while Ebert was kinder and more heartfelt — sometimes even a bit sappy. He clearly loved the movies and the way they can transport you and take you away from your troubles, and had a knack for getting to the heart of what makes a movie great. I only wish I could get to the heart of what makes a song great nearly as well.

So it seemed appropriate to pay him tribute today, and one of my favorite songs directly about movies is Elton John’s “I’ve Seen That Movie Too,” from his 1973 album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. It was one of the very first albums I ever owned — I think my parents gave it to me for something like my 8th birthday. One of the things that stood out for me at that young age was the melancholy of many of the songs — not that I could have identified it by that name. It’s not one of those emotions you experience a whole lot when you’re that young. “I’ve Seen That Movie Too” was perhaps the most melancholy of the songs on that album — and a beautiful melancholy it is — so it fits the mood of Roger Ebert’s passing, in addition to the subject matter. And if there’s anyone who could say that they had “seen that movie too” — for pretty much every significant movie ever released — it would certainly have been Roger Ebert.

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