Endless Loop: Funeral for a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding)

eltonjohnHave you ever had one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days…weeks…years? Sure you have. These are the songs that always make the cut. The songs on repeat. We all have them. I have a ton. Welcome back to Endless Loop.

“Funeral for a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding)” by Elton John

I remember reading long ago that a lot of the friction between Axl Rose and Slash that would eventually lead to the break up of Guns N’ Roses in the early 90’s began with the artistic differences between the two while writing and recording the Use Your Illusion albums. Slash purportedly wanted to keep going with the sound created on Appetite for Destruction, while Axl seemed to be channeling Elton John to craft these epic, piano-driven rock songs. Also, they were both assholes. Creative differences aside, I think I’ve gotta go with Axl on this one. As much as I love Appetite, the sheer scope and ambition of both the Use Your Illusion records pushed the band well beyond their Sunset Strip origins, and so much of that comes from Axl’s Elton John-inspired magnum opuses.

And why the hell wouldn’t you draw inspiration from Elton John? You can say what you will about any of his lackluster material from the last 30-plus years, but the man made utter magic during the 70’s. He put out album after album of brilliant material, the combination of his amazing songwriting and Bernie Taupin’s lyrics. In 1973, John put out his seventh album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, a double LP of nostalgia-fueled odes to American culture and childhood. The album opens with “Funeral for a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding),” an 11-minute song that begins as an instrumental dirge full of analog synthesizers, piano balladry, and electric guitar solos before bridging into its second half of straight rock n’ roll. It is the very definition of the epic and grandiose rock song. And it’s ultimately responsible for turning me on to the music of Elton John.

Like so many of the classic artists I enjoy, I didn’t really begin to seek them out until I was in college. After a high school education that started with grunge and then worked through industrial, electronica, and Britpop, college finally saw me investigating everything that had come before. It’s when I got into David Bowie, The Beatles, The Velvet Underground, Led Zeppelin, and so on. It’s only natural that I was going to discover how cool Elton John used to be.

I think the thing that really does it for me on “Funeral for a Friend” is the use of the synthesizers and arpeggiators during the opening. It’s a sound I just adore, being a sucker for all of those old school analog synth tones, the sound of the past future. And that opening is going to grab me every single time.

So, just remember…Axl Rose was right.


Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.

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