Elton John–Tiny Dancer

A great song already has the ability to stop time and draw the world together.  The power of film only serves to magnify that.  I’ve already written about the uniting pleasures of The Beta Band’s Dry the Rain in High Fidelity, but an easy competitor for greatest showcase of the sway of the right song comes from Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous.  A music film if there ever was one, the climactic moment calls on a single track to ease fatigue and mend simmering tensions between the lead characters.  And when Elton John’s Tiny Dancer starts to play, they are all powerless to deny the harmony it produces.  We all know the bursting brilliant chorus.  What we often forget it how long it takes to get there.  The lead up is a twangy, repetitive show of pop balladry.  At first,  it feels too protracted, but like a joke that somehow gets better the longer it’s drawn out, the song eventually becomes an exercise in delayed gratification.  It takes two-and-a-half minutes to get to that soaring line, “Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer.”  And after it does the song relaxes, retreating back to its verses and building tension for what everyone knows is about to happen: the final ecstatic minute of pop perfection.  Watching the characters in the film wait for that moment of explosive joy, the way we would if we were singing along with out friends, amplifies the successes of the song to an almost unbearable degree.  When it finally comes, it’s an irresistible release that lets each of them overlook their previous squabbles in favor of the bonds forged in better times.

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