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Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Elton John Deep Cuts

See what song managed to top “Madman Across the Water,” “Ticking” and “Harmony”

Elton John

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Elton John Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Elton John has a ton of hits, and he's made a very nice living out of playing them again and again to adoring throngs of fans all across the globe. The diehards, however, have heard "Crocodile Rock" and "Bennie and the Jets" quite enough. They know that John has an amazing back catalog of classic tunes that he's barely ever touched in concert. Albums like Tumbleweed Connection, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy and Songs From the West Coast are amazing from start to finish, even if they produced very few hits. We asked our readers to select their favorite Elton John deep cuts. Here are the results.

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UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Elton John Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

3

“Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”

Elton John composed the haunting instrumental "Funeral for a Friend" when he tried to imagine the sort of music he'd like to hear at his own funeral. The piece flowed so well into another piece, "Love Lies Bleeding," that he simply folded the songs together and turned the composite work into the opening track of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. The song has many fans in the hard-rock world, including the guys in Dream Theater and Guns N' Roses. (It's hard to imagine that Axl Rose would have ever written "November Rain" were it not for the influence of the song.) "Funeral" has served as the opening song for countless Elton John concerts, though this summer he swapped it out for "The Bitch Is Back."

Some might argue that this song is too famous to include on a list of deep cuts. It did get a lot of radio play back in the 1970s and Elton has played it live so many times that it's become one of his true standards. That said, it was never a single, and many casual fans probably don't know it exists. We were on the fence but ultimately felt it qualified as a very soft deep cut. 

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UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Elton John Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

2

“Ticking”

A mass shooting in a Queens bar that leaves 14 dead is hardly the natural subject for a pop song, but somehow Elton and Bernie managed to make "Ticking" work. The story unfolds very slowly: We learn about an "extremely quiet child" with high marks in school that snaps one day, shoots up a bar and gets gunned down by cops when he emerges. Stories like this weren't that common back in 1974, but sadly they're all too common these days. 

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UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Elton John Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

:Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

1

“Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters”

By the time that Elton and Bernie got around to writing songs for 1972's Honky Château, they'd finally been to America, and their love of New York is infused into "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters," even as the song points out the difficulties of life in the big city. "Until you've seen this trash can dream come true," Elton sings. "You stand at the edge while people run you through/And I thank the Lord there's people out there like you." It was never a single, but Elton has said many times that it's one of his favorite songs he's ever recorded. He even cut a sequel to it on 1988's Reg Strikes Back, but like many sequels, it was highly disappointing. Stick with the original. 

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