26 June 2006

The express train metaphor

When I heard Elton John's This Train Don't Stop There Anymore (2001) I liked it more than any Elton song I'd heard for years.

One thing about Bernie Taupin's lyrics bugs me, though. The metaphor is a train, about how the singer was a mad tearaway in the past, an express train:

I used to be the main express
All steam and whistles heading west...

That makes sense, but then he sings about how he's changed:

But this train don't stop,
This train don't stop,
This train don't stop there anymore

Isn't that the thing about an express train, that it doesn't make stops? That's what makes it an express, right? So what's this about it not stopping any more?

Guess I've missed something.

4 comments:

Slartibartfast said...

Just speculatin' -

(I love vague song lyrics, they are like Rorscach inkblots - ever see the [sadly defunct] site F.L.I.P. - the Finn Lyrics Interpretation Page? It was a hoot)

- maybe this is Taupin's way of saying that his singing collaborator isn't a drug-dependent, closeted homosexual spendthrift any more. Now he's a clean and sober, openly gay spendthrift.

No more stage appearances in a Donald Duck costume!

Also, on the same theme, Reginald the Tank Engine would not stop or pass through the tunnel named 'Renata' any more : )

Ooh that's naughty. I'll stop now. He's *Sir* Elton after all these days.

Lyn said...

Hey, thanks for commenting! (Pleased to see someone reads this.)

I'm sure you're right about the themes of the song, even about Reginald the Tank Engine (good grief!). My point was that the express train metaphor doesn't stand on all fours (as an 18th Century critic might've put it) and I do think that's true.

Slartibartfast said...

Thanks Lyn.

Another vague Taupin/Dwight song is 'Daniel' - apparently in original form it was too long to be a radio-friendly single and they cut out the last verse which resolved all the ambiguity of the track.

I'm not sure if the missing verse can be found on the web now - maybe a true fan of EJ could provide a pointer on this? (assuming anyone else reads this besides the Nuttall clan)

Lyn said...

I didn't know that about Daniel. I quoted a fragment of it at my post about lyrics http://poparchivesblog.blogspot.com/2006/06/few-words-from-our-lyricist.html

I have about 3 regular non-Nuttall readers that I know about! Google Analytics says the blog averages 15+ visitors a day (excluding me), so 100+ a week.

One needs to watch that one doesn't get hung up on this stuff!