Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy

Elton John’s 1975 album–the first ever to debut at the top of the Billboard charts–was not the album that told me lyrics matter.

That was Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence, which had fragments of the lyrics printed on the back cover.

But Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy inspired something far more profound in me than those brief glimpses into Paul Simon’s songcraft.

It compelled me to try writing something of my own.

A kind of loose autobiography, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy manages the rather tricky feat of mythologizing their adventures while also leaning into the harsh realities of the music business.

But all the trials and tribulations on display paled in comparison to the narrative of a camaraderie that took these songwriters from the end of the world to your town.

It made a life in music seem incredibly alluring, but I never learned to play and instrument and couldn’t sing, so I wrote ‘poems’ instead, or at least something approaching verse.

Despite my failings, there was something about Elton’s and Bernie’s tall tales that resonated then and continues to this day, but then even a writer like me is given to self-mythologizing at times.

If you can’t be a legend like them, you can at least be a legend in your own mind.

Sometimes, imagined greatness is more than enough to suffice.

After all, you have to start somewhere.

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