Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John
I’ve been thinking mightily lately about perfect songs. I guess initially I’ve considered what I mean by “perfect” songs, because frankly “perfect”, in my opinion (N.B. and not necessarily that of any lexicographers or linguists), is an over-used and misunderstood word.
Perfect is used by some to mean really excellent, or it’s used when “flawless” would be preferred. To me, flawless is a condition that may or may not have necessitated any human action to obtain. The diamond was flawless. A thing is flawless because it is without flaw. No one made it that way. It just is.
Whereas perfect is something strived for. The pitcher threw a perfect game. Elton John wrote, composed, performed, recorded a perfect song.
The question is, what does that mean? What is an artist striving for if perfection is the intended result? Maybe an impossible question. I’m close to answering that in WD’s muddled way.
There are a group of songs that I know are perfect. For the most part they’re old, but not old, old. They’re canonical with respect to late twentieth century rock and roll. Most of them are without flaws, yes. But even the flaws of those with them have melded into a grouthink-type-of-perfection. There’s more too it, I know, but I haven’t teased it out yet. So for this week, that’s as close to the definition of the perfect songs (sorry The Perfect Songs) as I’m getting. Well, that and I’ve decided Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is one of them.
More later. Maybe even a list to give structure to that which “would otherwise have no internal architecture.” Linky. We’ll see.