Elton John

Sad Songs (Say So Much)

Song Review by

Much of the musical and lyrical fortitude conspicuously absent from the vast majority of Elton John’s (keyboards/vocals) late ‘70s and early ‘80s material, returned along with lyricist Bernie Taupin and the ‘classic’ quartet -- featuring Dee Murray (bass/backing vocals), Davey Johnstone (guitar/backing vocals) and Nigel Olsson (drums) -- on John’s previous long player Too Low For Zero (1982). Breaking Hearts (1984) furthered their re-solidification as a formidable pop music combo. The first song extracted from the LP, “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” likewise continued the lofty chart action that had begun with “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” -- both of which reached the Top Five. Additionally worthy of note is that these two singles garnered John his first back to back hits in over half a decade. Another correlation between the two is their melancholy nature. Rather than pen another dark relationship vignette, Taupin in essence deconstructs the purpose and ultimate emotional usefulness of lonely and unrequited ‘tear in my beer’ balladry. Lines such as “‘Cause from the lips of some old singer/We share the troubles we already know” or “It feels so good to hurt so bad/And suffer just enough to sing the blues” delve into the pop psyche, revealing why these communal antidotes are so effective. Melodically, “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” is fairly typical of the easy going Adult Contemporary style that John had veered toward earlier in the decade with tracks such as “Little Jeannie” and “Blue Eyes”. His ability to create -- if not master -- pop music moods and textures is evident in the effectiveness retained in his more than capable performance style. The backing trio, while arguably are instrumentally under utilized on this particular track, do revive their rich vocal harmonies. They are reminiscent of the airtight contributions on the hit “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” and the lesser-known album track “Pinky” from Caribou (1974). In a rare move, John reworked the song for Sasson Jeans -- who promoted at least one leg (pun intended) of John’s Breaking Hearts tour in 1984/1985. The resulting advert was done in the concurrently popular music video trend of product placement with Sir Elton warbling that “Sasson’s Say So Much”. Yikes! The promotional campaign did not last very long, although a rare and limited edition picture disc of the single was issued by the designer to help further promote his wares.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Breaking Hearts 1984 Geffen / Mercury / Rocket Group Pty LTD 4:56
Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 (1979-1987) 1987 MCA 4:49
Healing Hands 1989 Rocket Group Pty LTD
To Be Continued... 1990 Geffen / Island / Universal 4:09
No Image 1991 Image Entertainment
Greatest Hits: 1976-1986 1992 Island/Mercury / Island/Def Jam / MCA / Universal 4:08
Speculum Vitæ: Lieder for Soprano and Organ or Piano 2000
Various Artists
4:49
One Night Only: The Greatest Hits 2000 Universal 3:54
The Greatest Hits 1970-2002 2002 Island / Universal Distribution 4:10
Greatest Hits Live: 1970 - 2002 2003 Mercury / Rocket
Greatest Hits/One Night Only 2005 Universal Distribution / Mercury / Mercury Records
Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits 2007 Mercury 4:08
Elton 60: Live at Madison Square Garden 2007 Island/Mercury / Mercury
20TH Century Masters: Chfi-FM 50 Years [Universal] 2007
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing / Universal Distribution 4:11
Rocket Man 2007 Mercury 4:09
Heartbreakers 2009
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 4:09
Live in Verona 2009 2010 Mercury Records 5:01
Live at Knebworth 2010
Various Artists
Eagle Rock 5:30
No Image Rock
Lovely Days, Vol. 1 [1 CD]
Various Artists
4:49
The  Very Best Of Sad Songs
Various Artists
EMI TV 4:09
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