Essential Elton John: Counting down the Rocket Man’s 30 best songs

As Elton John prepares to bid Farewell From Dodger Stadium (and from touring), we look back on his greatest tracks of all time

Essential Elton John: Counting down the Rocket Man’s 30 best songs
From left: Elton John during the Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour in January 2022 (Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images); at Earl’s Court in London (Photo: Roger Jackson/Central Press/Getty Images); wearing one of his many trademark glasses in 1974. (Photo: D. Morrison/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images); performing in February 2020 in New Zealand. (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images) Graphic: Libby McGuire

Four years after it kicked off in September 2018, Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour has its final North American dates this November. The site of these last U.S. shows can’t help but stir memories of Elton’s phenomenal imperial phase of the 1970s. They’re held at Dodger Stadium, the venue where he gave two concerts in 1975, not long after releasing Rock Of The Westies, his second number-one album that year. The concerts marked the peak of Elton-mania, but his fame never subsided, and he spent the next five decades in constant motion, playing shows and releasing records at a rate that puts both his contemporaries and disciples to shame.

It’s such a rich, prolific career that it’s sometimes necessary to take a step back and listen to the songs at the bedrock of his legacy—songs usually composed in conjunction with his lifelong collaborator, lyricist Bernie Taupin. On November 20, Disney+ will stream Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium—the Rocket Man’s historic final bow. The A.V. Club saw this as a welcome opportunity to revisit a catalog that has few peers in popular music. Here, we count down (and rank) Elton’s most essential songs.

previous arrow30. Whenever You’re Ready (We’ll Go Steady Again) (1973) next arrow
Whenever You’re Ready (We’ll Go Steady Again)

Thrown away on the B-side to “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” “Whenever You’re Ready (We’ll Go Steady Again)” may be the hardest rocking number Elton John ever cut. Like “Crocodile Rock” it’s an intentional throwback to pre-Beatles rock and roll, but this revved-up 12-bar blues never sounds like a mere flashback thanks to the big backbeat and Elton John doing his best Jerry Lee Lewis-style piano pumping.

 
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