When I took some time off this afternoon, Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" was on VH1's Classic Albums documentary series. Great album; I have it on vinyl at home. And that's a pretty good series. They interviewed the players, but they also sit in the studio with the techs and talk about how the sound is put together. So I put what Elton I had onto my iPod and listened to it while I walked to Central Square to buy brandy.
I started thinking a lot about the structure of the music, and here's something I realized. And when I realized it, I fell in love with Elton John even more.
The song "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" begins with a simple, lovely piano chord series that resolves itself on the tonic. But the rest of the song is restless - it makes you feel like it's about to resolve, and then when he sings "Rooooaad" really high, the music goes in a different direction. It's unsettled, which directly parallels the theme of the lyric about being out of place.
"Candle in the Wind," by contrast, is about being cut down in the prime of life. But the major key resolves itself very warmly, as if an attempt to come to grips with that.
That's the kind of loving care and attention to detail you can only get from a gay man.