With more and more regions in lock-down, it’s about time for some inspiration, what do you say pianoplayers?! I want today’s song to be (1) appropriate to the occasion (2) inspirational to both player and audience, then (3) fairly easy-to-play!
Appropriate to the occasion
Depending on where you live in this world, you’ll notice more or less consequences of a pandemic virus. This song – music and lyrics – was written by (now Sir) Elton John, on the night before he got confronted with the dramatic death of a beloved 17 year-old messenger boy at his recording studio. His name was Guy Burchett, who died in a motorcycle accident.
Musically it’s a slow paced, easy-listening tune that for some of you could work as a nightcap. It remains sober, serene, kind of misty with the synthesizers towards the end at 06:34 (album, even more in the 2017 remastered version). The first minutes of the song will make you believe it’s fully instrumental, but at 04:49 you’ll hear Elton’s voice softly repeating until the end:
“Life isn’t everything…”
With the story behind it in mind, this song about life, death as part of that life, about health and vulnerability, it definitely deserves its space in this blog category!
Inspirational to both player and audience
I love playing this song particularly in medical centers and elderly homes for the simple reason that it obviously touches people, given their reactions all around the planet. You’re in a place that breathes vulnerability, where people even unwantedly think about life and death and the value of both. It’s a place where most around you need strength of some sort; some for recovery, others for grief, dealing with shock or just simple distraction for a while.
Over the years, this particular song is a typical opening line that draws reactions from bystanders. Anything between a kind head nod, a tear, a smile, a warm hand, to sharing their life stories. That itself can be very inspirational for a player, knowing that that individual’s life just took a tiny little detour, trivial but expectedly valuable for both!
Playing this song can take it one step further though, here’s an example from April 2019. My colleague tells me that his best friend is fighting for recovery in a local hospital. Next few days will be crucial for his future quality of life. Knowing there’s a public piano in that hospital’s lobby, I promise him to dedicate a song to his best-friend. Long story short: I’m playing Song for Guy for a man I never met – someone’s best friend though! – who cannot hear me from Intensive Care. The song, the dedication, thinking about my colleague being worried and his friend’s health, his struggle. End of the story? One emotional piano player, the usual head nods, one free coffee from the cafeteria lady, one grateful colleague and – 11 months onwards – a best friend still making good progress ever single day! Ain’t life beautiful?!
Of course it’s subjective and different for a beginner or a concert pianist but amongst our earlier shared Songs-of-Inspiration, this one is easiest to play by far.
|Song for Guy – Elton John||3-4||Doable, limited number of chords, melodious, fairly slow. If you play Let It Be, you're over half the song, same key of C.|
|Music – John Miles||6-7||It’s the songs variety of styles, more than e.g. chord difficulty, that could be a challenge playing this beauty!|
|Warn Down Piano – Mark & Clark Band||9||It’s a duet and multi-style, so don’t try this at home unless you have a concert pianist as sister/brother 🙂|
|Root Beer Rag – Billy Joel||10||When plaid at full/original speed, this is conservatory graduation material!|