Blowing the Dust Off: Tumbleweed Connection by Elton John

Welcome to the first post in a new occasional project: revisiting music that has sat, unplayed, in my vinyl collection for so long I don’t remember what it sounds like. Often these are albums from artists whose other work I like, or that I bought because a song or two caught my attention, or that thought I “should” have for whatever reason. I think we all have managed to accumulate a few of these albums.

So I’ve decided that this blog is a perfect excuse to haul them out, dust them off, give them a spin, and write up short reviews to tell you about them. With luck, I will discover some forgotten treasures. On the other hand it may inspire me to get rid of stuff and open up some much-needed (Much. Needed.) space for albums I might actually want to own.

Tumbleweed Connection by Elton John

Released 1970


  1. Ballad of a Well-known Gun
  2. Come Down in Time
  3. Country Comfort
  4. Son of Your Father
  5. My Father’s Gun
  6. Where to Now St. Peter?
  7. Love Song
  8. Amoreena
  9. Talking Old Soldiers
  10. Burn Down the Mission

Tumbleweed Connection is Elton John’s 3rd album, a follow-up to his self-titled second that provided him with his first major hit (“Your Song”). It did well in the charts, reaching No. 2 in the UK Albums Charts and No. 5 in the American Billboard chart. As with most of his albums, John wrote and composed the music and Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics.

I was never much of an Elton John fan, he was far too pop and mainstream for my taste. But for some reason this album struck a chord—or more accurately, one track from this album dug itself in deep, even if I never much listened to the rest of the album. The beautiful, poignant ballad “Where to Now St. Peter?” resonates with me in a way that few songs do; whenever I work up a list of my favourite songs of all time, it always manages to find its way there. That must mean something.


Tumbleweed Connection is vaguely a concept album, wherein John and Taupin try to capture the Gestalt of some sort of mythic American West. Lyrically it is replete with the themes and tropes of “America”: home and hearth, the old west, The Gunfighter…. I can’t really comment on how well they managed to accomplish that, but musically there is a real western flavour and tang to these tracks, country-rock and bluesy ballads, lovely gospelly vocal harmonies, harmonica and steel guitar and honky-tonk piano…they have pulled off an album of nicely evocative, gentle, country-style songs.

I’m happy to say that this is an album well worth listening to, and I plan to hang on to it. Maybe “Old Soldiers Talking” borders on maudlin, and the piano theme for “Amoreena” is essentially a major-key version of the theme for “Where to Now…” but overall this is an album of fine country rockers, lovely ballads, and very pleasant soft rock time-fillers. And the packaging is vintage ‘70s album-cover: a well-designed gatefold where the album opening is inside at the fold, and a large format book with lyrics and photos. And they manage to put all that quality on a plain-bread 120 gram pressing in a sleeve that doesn’t occupy a half-inch of shelf space the way the modern crazy-thick vinyl covers do (this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine…).

Note: The track “Country Comfort” was written for Rod Stewart, which appeared on his second solo album Gasoline Alley, also in 1970.