Elton John’s Beautiful “Cage The Songbird,” Featured Crosby & Nash

Elton John's Cage The Songbird

Photo: By https://www.flickr.com/photos/more19562003/ [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most underrated and lesser known Elton John songs that the brilliant artist ever recorded was the beautiful ballad “Cage The Songbird.” The song appeared on Elton John’s Blue Moves album. The Blue Moves album was released in 1976. The Blue Moves album itself was perhaps Elton John’s most underrated album. Blue Moves was Elton John’s second double album. Elton John had released the spectacular double album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in 1973. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road had been Elton John’s only double album up until the release of Blue Moves in 1976. The Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album spawned four huge hit singles with “Benny and the Jets,” “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” “Candle In The Wind,” and the title track “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” The album also included fan favorites “Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding,” and “Harmony.”

The Blue Moves album could not compare to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in terms of single releases. The only hit single from the Blue Moves album was the wonderful ballad “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.” However the Blue Moves two record set was filled with incredibly well written songs and even a couple of interesting instrumentals.

One of our favorite Elton John songs of all time has always been the mesmerizing track “Cage The Songbird.”  The song appeared on he Blue Moves album as the second song on side two of the record. Guitarist Davey Johnston received songwriting credit on the song along with Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The legendary French singer Edith Piaf was the subject of the song’s lyrics. Edith Piaf was one of the most famous French singer and actresses in the country’s history. Edith Piaf recorded from 1933 to 1963. She also appeared in a dozen or so films.

Elton John composed one of the most beautiful melodies of his career with his composition of “Cage The Songbird.” The songs chord changes were striking especially the key change that was utilized in the transition between verse and chorus. Davey Johnstone and Caleb Quaye’s guitar work set the mood for the song from the opening notes.

Elton John always recorded outstanding harmonies on his material. However what made the harmonies on “Cage The Songbird,” even more astonishing than usual was the employment of David Crosby and Graham Nash on the track. David Crosby and Graham Nash spent more years harmonizing together as a duo and of course at times with Stephen Stills, and once in a while with the legendary Neil Young. As Crosby, Stills Nash & Young the group recorded two of the sweetest sounding harmony albums in classic rock history. As CSN, the group continued to release blockbuster records. However, the albums they recorded just as Crosby & Nash were always more intimate.

Elton John use of the talents of Crosby & Nash helped take an exceptionally well written song to a an entire new level of brilliance. The harmonies on the chorus were stunningly gorgeous and captured the sincerity of the lyrics in the most honest fashion. “Cage The Songbird,” was not only one of the highlights of the Blue Moves album, but one of the most beautifully recorded songs of Elton John’s career.

Kiki Dee’s version of “Cage The Songbird,” released in 2008

Crystal Gayle’s version of Cage The Songbird released in 1983

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