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Album: Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano PlayerReleased: 1972
Running to around 3 minutes 33 seconds, this lyrically dissonant track was the B-side of "Crocodile Rock
." Co-written by the then still relatively new partnership of Elton and regular lyricist Bernie Taupin, it draws clearly both on Bernie's country boy origins and imagery from the netherworld of his imagination. Taupin has Elton singing from the perspective of a lazy dude looking back on the good times when his wife served his every whim. Apparently, she tired of picking the crops and making his wine.
Is it really true that women down south are passed on from hand to hand? 1972 was only just out of the Swinging Sixties, and as Bernie had been collaborating with Elton from the back end of that decade, that may have been how he viewed Swinging London and the sexual liberation that came with it. The same sentiment can be found in Al Stewart's epic "Love Chronicles
According to the dedicated on-line Elton John discography Eltonography
, "Crocodile Rock" went through 60 pressings from 1972, initially on Dick James Music; "Elderberry Wine" was sometimes replaced by "Midnight Creeper." In Mexico, "El Rock Del Cocodrilo" was backed by both "Elderberry Wine" and "High Flying Bird."
The single was released in the UK on October 27, 1972 and a week earlier in the US, October 20. Both songs were included on the Don't Shoot Me...
album for which they were recorded; "Elderberry Wine" was the third track on side 1.
There is an element of kitsch in this song, as it pokes fun at down-home southern living. Elderberry wine won't be a part of any fine dining experience, but is suitable for passing around, so these hillbillies can get drunk right from the bottle. Taupin was clearly amused by this culture - the album title comes from a novelty plaque he found in an American junk shop. A clear sign that Taupin wrote this song with tongue firmly in cheek is this line:
You aimed to please me
Cooked black-eyed peas me
Speaking with Beat Instrumental in 1973, the man himself said: "This is a stock Elton John number. It could have been on any of my albums."