The Diamond Jubilee And Living On Past Glories

So I flitted between repeats of Have I Got News For You on the Dave Channel and whatever was happening at the Diamond Jubilee Concert. It was altogether too ‘mainstream’ in its musical tastes for me (as I would expect). But here’s what struck me: you have the extraordinary visuals for Madness‘ wonderfully cheeky rendition of Our House:

Stevie Wonder got a bit confused between the notion of birthday and Jubilee:

And Paul McCartney certainly gave the gig a spectacular ending, not least with Live And Let Die (no, HRH, don’t take that literally about your mother):

But, but, but. What an embarrassment Elton John was. And I say that as someone who liked his early music. Well, the Seventies stuff, up to about the Blue Moves album. While I’ve posted the full performances above of Madness, Wonder and McCartney, I can’t bear to do that for Elt. The nadir, which epitomised the whole sorry performance, was Crocodile Rock, and it’s telling there are no decent quality clips of that track on YouTube this morning. I have a fondness for that shallow little song, because it brings back certain teenage memories. I used to co-edit a satirical school magazine in Sixth Form, and when our Physics teacher turned up one day in glasses for the first time, we ran posters around the school about Elton Vine and rewrote this song as Crocodile Clip. (I’ll pass on our deeply unChristian rewrite of Your Song as My Song.)

Crocodile Rock last night showed what has been obvious for years whenever Sir E H John has sung in public (at least, going on TV performances). He can’t reach the high notes any more. He tacitly admitted it by delegating the falsetto part not even to backing vocalists but to the crowd. McCartney and Wonder hit some bum notes, but they still had some decent range.

At the end of the set, the compère said Elton was someone who certainly knew how to put on a show.

He does. He just can’t sing anymore. Which is inconvenient but doesn’t get in the way. He’s living on past glories.

And we got something similar with the video montage of the Queen’s reign, set to the orchestral version of U2’s Beautiful Day. It all reinforced the ridiculous ‘Sixty Glorious Years’ slogan that has been repurposed from a 1930s film about Queen Victoria. Not that you’d expect an event like this to highlight Princess Margaret’s wild life, Randy Andy’s supposedly secret trysts with Koo Stark, the annus horribilis or the effect of Diana’s death on the royal family. There, too, like Reginald Dwight Esquire, we can live on past glories.

Not that we’d know anything about putting on a good show and living on past glories in the church. Oh, no.


  1. Excellent resume of the concert, with a very good challenge to the Church at the end.
    I too was disappointed with Elton John; unlike others who altered their music to suit their vocal range, Elton seems to want to continue as he used to be. Sadly I also thought that he mumbled many words and didn’t have the clarity he used to have. Highlight for me was Prince Charles speech at the end and the projected graphics onto the palace, especially for ‘our house’


  2. Dear David

    I trust you aren’t counting the queen’s “royal assent” signature into law of the Abortion Act 1967, and same-sex “marriage” in Canada, as some of her past “glories”. That wasn’t what people listening to her coronation oath in 1953 would have expected her to do, if she was a woman of her word.

    And, at your age, how come you remember still having been in the sixth form of your school when Crocodile Rock was released by a young singer often photographed in flamboyant spectacles, when I, considerably your junior, had already dropped out of university by then and was working at Digby hospital? (I did go back to university later.)

    Inspired by your example of an old dog learning new tricks, I at last started my own WordPress blog, last Friday. Please do pop over any time. It is, as the youngsters might nowadays say, “well controversial”.



    1. John,

      I’m not commenting on the Queen’s entire reign, nor am I assuming it was all glory. In fact, that in a sense is the point.

      And to further clarify, although we parodied Crocodile Rock when I was in Sixth Form, it had in fact come out a few years earlier. So I am (slightly) younger than you think I am!


      1. How embarrassing. All this time I have been mistakenly thinking that I have been reading, and commenting on, a blog by David Falkus.


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