Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player

Last updated

Don't Shoot Me
I'm Only the Piano Player
Elton John - Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player.jpg
Studio album by
Released22 January 1973 (1973-01-22) (UK)
26 January 1973 (US)
RecordedJune 1972
Studio Château d'Hérouville, Hérouville, France; mixed at Trident, London
Genre Pop rock [1]
Length42:45
Label MCA (US), DJM (UK)
Producer Gus Dudgeon
Elton John chronology
Honky Château
(1972)
Don't Shoot Me
I'm Only the Piano Player

(1973)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
(1973)
Singles from Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player
  1. "Crocodile Rock"/"Elderberry Wine"
    Released: 27 October 1972
  2. "Daniel"
    Released: 20 January 1973
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [2]
Christgau's Record Guide C+ [3]
Rolling Stone (favourable) [4]
The Daily VaultB+ [5]
Tom Hull – on the Web B [6]

Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player is the sixth studio album by English singer-songwriter Elton John. [7] Released in January 1973 by DJM Records, it was John's sixth normal studio album release, first of his two studio albums released in 1973 (second one was Goodbye Yellow Brick Road , released nine months later), and was his second straight No. 1 album in the US and first No. 1 album in the UK.

Contents

The lead single "Crocodile Rock" yielded John his first No. 1 single in both the US and Canada. [8] "Daniel" was also a major hit from the album, giving him his second Canadian No. 1 single on the RPM Top Singles Chart [9] and No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and reaching No. 4 in the UK, one place higher than achieved by "Crocodile Rock".

Background

The team returned to France to record at the Château d'Hérouville, also known at the time as "Strawberry Studios", which was how the studio was credited in the album's sleeve; Honky Château , the previous Elton John album, had been recorded there. [10] The album featured horns arranged by producer Gus Dudgeon on "Elderberry Wine" (the B-side to "Crocodile Rock"), "Midnight Creeper" and "I'm Going to Be a Teenage Idol", the latter of which was inspired by John's friend, T-Rex frontman Marc Bolan. The horn players were the same ones who were used on Honky Château . Paul Buckmaster returned to add strings on "Blues for My Baby and Me" and "Have Mercy on the Criminal". During his Australian concerts with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 1986, John lauded Buckmaster's work on songs such as "Have Mercy on the Criminal", calling the string arrangements "revolutionary".

The title of the album came from friend and actor/comedian Groucho Marx. Elton was playing the piano at a party at Groucho's home; Groucho, who referred to him as 'John Elton', held out his middle and index finger in the style of a pistol. Elton then raised his hands and said "Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player" at Marx's gun imitation.

The album was a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic, topping the UK and US album charts. It is one of only three albums to feature just the core band of John on pianos and keyboards, Davey Johnstone on guitars, Dee Murray bass and Nigel Olsson on drums, without percussionist Ray Cooper. The other two are Honky Château (1972) (bar a performance by Cooper on congas on the song "Amy") and Breaking Hearts (1984).

An outtake of note was a re-recording of "Skyline Pigeon", which became the B-side to the single of "Daniel".

Critics at the time called some of the performances, especially "Crocodile Rock", derivative, which John freely acknowledged years later. In His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John by author Elizabeth Rosenthal, John said "Crocodile Rock" was written as an overt homage to '50s records, and his vocal intentionally mimicked singer Bobby Vee. "High Flying Bird" was intended to sound like a Van Morrison record, and "Midnight Creeper" was a tip of the hat to the Rolling Stones.

John toured Australia during 1972 and was so inspired by Daddy Cool's hit single "Eagle Rock" that, with Taupin, he wrote "Crocodile Rock". The cover of this album has a photo of lyricist Taupin wearing a "Daddy Who?" promotional badge.

Don't Shoot Me... was also, according to John, the first album during which he felt comfortable experimenting with his vocal performances and style.

Packaging

The album's title comes from something Elton said during an evening spent with Groucho Marx. After an evening of constant ribbing from Marx, Elton's comeback was to hold his hands up and say, "Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player." [11] The album's cover photograph, which shows a young couple outside a movie theatre whose marquee reads: Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player starring Elton John; on the wall is a movie poster advertising the Marx Brothers' 1940 film Go West as a tribute to Groucho Marx.

The title is also a play on the 1960 François Truffaut film Shoot the Piano Player and the original Oscar Wilde quote "Don't shoot the piano player, he's doing his best", which Wilde said he saw in a saloon on a visit to the U.S. [12]

Track listing

All tracks are written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Daniel"3:55
2."Teacher I Need You"4:10
3."Elderberry Wine"3:34
4."Blues for My Baby and Me"5:39
5."Midnight Creeper"3:52
Side two
No.TitleLength
6."Have Mercy on the Criminal"5:58
7."I'm Going to Be a Teenage Idol"3:56
8."Texan Love Song"3:33
9."Crocodile Rock"3:55
10."High Flying Bird"4:12
Total length:42:45
Bonus tracks (1995 Mercury and 1996 Rocket reissue)
No.TitleLength
11."Screw You (Young Man's Blues)"4:43
12."Jack Rabbit"1:50
13."Whenever You’re Ready (We’ll Go Steady Again)"2:51
14."Skyline Pigeon" (Piano version)3:56
Total length:56:05

B-sides

SongFormat
"Skyline Pigeon" (Piano version)Daniel 7" (US/UK)

Personnel

Track numbers refer to CD and digital releases of the album.

Production

Charts and certifications

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