Monday, March 16, 2009


I've had the song Daniel stuck in my head today (no idea why, I don't think I actually heard it anywhere).

I've never understood this song, but I've also never attempted to analyze it -- until today. And folks, I'm here to tell you, analyzing the lyrics of an Elton John song is not something anybody should do as long as there are more potentially rewarding occupations open to them, like brushing their teeth again. Or lying face down in a ditch.

But since I've done the legwork, I feel I might as well share the results: the song makes no sense.


Daniel is traveling tonight on the plane/I can see the red tail lights/heading for sp-ai-ai-ain/Oh and/I can see Daniel waving goodbye [1]/God it looks like Daniel/Must be the clouds in my eyes [2]

OH-OH-OH/Daniel my brother/You are/Older than me/Do you still feel the pain/Of a scar that won't heal?/Your eyes have died but you see more than mine[3]/Daniel you're a star/In the face of the sky.

They say Spain is pretty/though I've never been/Daniel says it's the best place/he's eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-ver seen [4]/Oh and/ he should know/he's been there enough [5]/Oh I miss Daniel/Oh I miss him so much [6]

[1] I can see Daniel waving goodbye, although I've just told you I can see the tail lights, which suggests I'm BEHIND the plane, and more importantly, I can see them 'heading for Spain,' which suggests that the plane is OFF THE GROUND, so how exactly I'm seeing Daniel waving goodbye is puzzling but I don't really think it's [2] the clouds in my eyes because I've also told you Daniel is traveling TONIGHT, a time of day during which clouds are not usually an obstacle to vision -- PITCH BLACKNESS is. If, on the other hand, the clouds are truly in my eyes, then it sounds like cataracts, which means (as will become clear in the chorus) that this song is about ocular health.

[3] Daniel has, apparently, been the victim of an accident that's robbed him of his sight, but how the scars from that accident could have failed to heal is puzzling, and why Daniel and his unhealed scars would be permitted to board an airplane perplexing. Moreover, the image suggested is grotesque. 'Your eyes have died but you see more than mine' is, of course, just bad English, unless Daniel's eyes have died but he sees more than my eyes -- i.e. he sees the stewardess coming to ask him if he'd like a hot towel for his scars that won't heal.

[4] Although he's blind, so that's not really a rousing endorsement. And you're going to say, 'What if he saw it BEFORE he went blind?' in that whiny tone you adopt when you think you've trumped me and I'm going to respond, 'Then he still is hardly in a position to discuss it in reference to other places because presumably, he no longer sees the places he travels. Plus, I just get the idea Daniel is young. Don't ask me why.'

[5] I don't think multiple visits would have made a difference. Did I mention he's blind?

[6] Although he left approximately three minutes ago and I apparently pursued his plane right out onto the runway.

Well, there you have it, Elton John's Daniel deconstructed. Next week, who is Delta Dawn and just what is that flower she has on?

[Above right: Look closely, you can see Daniel. No, really. He's waving goodbye.]


Tokyo Sexwale said...

a couple of things one should keep in mind when engaging in research on elton john:
1. in the 1970s, he was usually seen wearing giant sunglasses. these sunglasses may have had one of two purposes - to hide his blindness or to give him supervision, either of which could explain the lyrics to 'daniel'.
2. the 1970s were a blizzard of ass and cock for elton john, and it's not hard to imagine how this could have made him temporarily blind. you're a catholic, maire, so you know what i'm talking about.

maire said...

so, let me get this straight: rather than being about ocular health, 'daniel' is about post-vatican II/pre-AIDS homosexual mores?

i'm glad we got THAT sorted.

i forgot that, while some worked in the cafeteria, you put yourself through university by chairing the elton john studies department!

Shay said...

You can parse the intricacies of homo-ballads until you're rainbow in the face, but I'm afraid it will not help in your quest to be gay in the 70s.

However, considering the former of Ms. Sexwale's suggestions on Mr. John's ocular health, perhaps he had a decade long case of pirate eye?

Tycho said...

That was fun. i can't wait to read your analysis of Fernando, another 70s classic.

As far as Daniel goes, i've always thought he was talking about his memories (e.g. of seeing Daniel wave goodbye as he prepares to embark on the flight) and let's remember that Bernie Taupin actually wrote these lyrics, so the clouded glasses theory can't be right... at any rate, one of them (EJ or BT) clearly had a terrible childhood, so bad that even a bunch of clouds are able to get in the way of understanding what all went down (under normal circumstances, i think at least a bottle of whiskey would be de rigeur)

chihuahua lady said...

i agree with the jizz blizzard argument.
Daniel is into pirate eye,
and then he lights the bong and bullshits on about going to spain.
elton cant see properly and is also half caned so when daniel rambles on he sees the cone light up and confuses it with the tail lights on airoplanes,which airoplanes dont have but try telling that to a stoner

chihuahua lady said...

no way! i just wrote a really funny comment and it didnt save!
in brief:
daniel was into giving pirate eye (the clouds) and then smoked cones and gabbed on about getting his shit together and going to spain
elton had pirate eye and was also pretty caned, saw the cone light up and confused it with plane tail lights, which planes dont have but he was stoned so who is arguing?
the waving is daniel trying to put out the fire he accidently did on the table cloth.

chihuahua lady said...

i just read this again- did tokyo sexwhale really say in the same sentence "a blizzard of.... and youre a catholic maire, you know what i am talking about?

maire said...

yes, he did.