When Elton John Went a Little Bit Country on "Tumbleweed Connection"

Elton John Tumbleweed Connection cover
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(Courtesy Uni Records)

In 1970, it was all coming together for Elton John. The rising UK star had released his self-titled second album in April, rocked Los Angeles at the Troubadour in August and by the fall, was ready to release his third album. The young singer, on the cusp of fame, decided the time was right to make a left turn.

Tumbleweed Connection was released on October 30, 1970, full of dusty Americana. With songwriting partner Bernie Taupin's lyrics touching on the Civil War and Wild West imagery, the British lads had crafted an authentically country and western album deep in the heart of London's Trident Studio with producer Gus Dudgeon.

“We had about three albums worth of songs stockpiled,” John said at the time. “So we split the best of those numbers into two albums. The [introspective] songs that would suit the Elton John album, and those [more upbeat numbers] that would suit Tumbleweed Connection.

Just as Tumbleweed Connection was hitting stores, "Your Song," from John's self-titled second album, had been re-released as a single. Soon, the tune was rocketing up the charts and onto radio station playlists across the country. As new fans snapped up the LP, many were surprised to find that "Your Song" wasn't on it. Impressed by what they heard, Elton John began to climb the album charts as well. By early 1971, both albums would hit the US Top 10.

While there were no singles released from Tumbleweed Connection, it contains some of John's most beloved deep cuts, including "Burn Down the Mission." Watch a live performance below.

The album also included "Amoreena," which was written for his then-manager's daughter and his godchild. The tune was one of only three songs to appear in the Oscar-winning movie, Dog Day Afternoon. It plays over the opening credits.


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