Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player
|Don't Shoot Me|
I'm Only the Piano Player
|Studio album by|
|Released||22 January 1973 (UK)|
26 January 1973 (USA)
|Studio||Château d'Hérouville, Hérouville, France; mixed at Trident Studios, London|
|Elton John chronology|
|Singles from Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player|
|Christgau's Record Guide||C+|
|The Daily Vault||B+|
Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player is the sixth studio album by Elton John. Released in January, 1973 by DJM Records, it was John's sixth normal studio album release, and was his second straight No. 1 album in the US, yielding his first No. 1 single in both the US and Canada: "Crocodile Rock". "Daniel" was also a major hit from the album, giving him his second Canadian No. 1 single on the RPM Top Singles Chart and No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and reaching No. 4 in the UK, one place higher than achieved by "Crocodile Rock".
The team returned to France to record at the Château d'Hérouville, also known at the time as "Strawberry Studios"; Honky Château, the previous Elton John album, had been recorded there, which was how the studio was credited in the album's sleeve. The album featured horns arranged by producer Gus Dudgeon on "Elderberry Wine" (the B-side to "Crocodile Rock"), "Midnight Creeper" and "I'm Gonna Be a Teenage Idol", the latter of which was inspired by John's friend, T-Rex frontman Marc Bolan. The horn players were the same ones who were used on Honky Château. Paul Buckmaster returned to add strings on "Blues for My Baby and Me" and "Have Mercy on the Criminal". During his Australian concerts with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 1986, John lauded Buckmaster's work on songs such as "Have Mercy on the Criminal", calling the string arrangements "revolutionary".
The title of the album came from friend and comic actor Groucho Marx of The Marx Brothers who referred to him as 'John Elton' whilst holding out his middle and index finger in the style of a pistol. Elton then retaliated saying "Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player" at Marx's gun imitation.
The album was a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic, topping the UK and US album charts. It is one of only three albums to feature just the core band of John on pianos and keyboards, Davey Johnstone on guitars, Dee Murray bass and Nigel Olsson on drums, without percussionist Ray Cooper. The other two are Honky Château (1972) (bar a performance by Cooper on congas on the song "Amy") and Breaking Hearts (1984).
An outtake of note was a re-recording of "Skyline Pigeon", which became the B-side to the single of "Daniel".
Critics at the time called some of the performances, especially "Crocodile Rock", derivative, which John freely acknowledged years later. In His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John by author Elizabeth Rosenthal, John said "Crocodile Rock" was written as an overt homage to '50s records, and his vocal intentionally mimicked singer Bobby Vee. "High Flying Bird" was intended to sound like a Van Morrison record, and "Midnight Creeper" was a tip of the hat to the Rolling Stones.
John toured Australia during 1972 and was so inspired by Daddy Cool's hit single "Eagle Rock" that, with Taupin, he wrote "Crocodile Rock". The cover of this album has a photo of lyricist Taupin wearing a "Daddy Who?" promotional badge.
Don't Shoot Me... was also, according to John, the first album during which he felt comfortable experimenting with his vocal performances and style.
The album's title comes from something Elton said during an evening spent with Groucho Marx. After an evening of constant ribbing from Marx, Elton's comeback was to hold his hands up and say, "Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player." The album's cover photograph, which shows a young couple outside a movie theatre whose marquee reads: Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player starring Elton John, also includes a movie poster of the Marx Brothers' film Go West. Whether this was an intentional tribute to Groucho, or merely a coincidence, is uncertain.
The title is also a play on the 1960 François Truffaut film Shoot the Piano Player and the original Oscar Wilde quote "Don't shoot the piano player, he's doing his best", which Wilde said he saw in a saloon on a visit to the U.S. 
- Side one
- "Daniel" – 3:54
- "Teacher I Need You" – 4:10
- "Elderberry Wine" – 3:34
- "Blues for My Baby and Me" – 5:42
- "Midnight Creeper" – 3:55
- Side two
- "Have Mercy on the Criminal" – 5:57
- "I'm Gonna Be a Teenage Idol" – 3:55
- "Texan Love Song" – 3:33
- "Crocodile Rock" – 3:58
- "High Flying Bird" – 4:12
- Sides one and two were combined as tracks 1–10 on CD reissues.
Bonus tracks (1995 Mercury and 1996 Rocket reissue)
- "Screw You (Young Man's Blues)" – 4:43
- "Jack Rabbit" – 1:49
- "Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again)" – 2:51
- "Skyline Pigeon" (Piano version) – 3:56
|"Skyline Pigeon" (Piano version)||Daniel 7" (US/UK)|
Track numbers refer to CD and digital releases of the album.
- Elton John – vocals, piano (tracks 2-4, 6, 7, 9, 10), Fender Rhodes (tracks 1, 5), Farfisa (track 9), harmonium (8), mellotron (1, 2)
- Davey Johnstone – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, Leslie guitar (All tracks), banjo (track 1), sitar (4), mandolin (8), backing vocals (2, 7, 10)
- Dee Murray – bass guitar (All tracks), backing vocals (tracks 2, 7, 10)
- Nigel Olsson – drums (All tracks), maracas (track 1), backing vocals (tracks 2, 7, 10)
- Ken Scott – ARP synthesizer (track 1)
- Gus Dudgeon – brass arrangement (tracks 3, 5, 7)
- Paul Buckmaster – orchestral arrangement (tracks 4, 6)
- Jacques Bolognesi – trombone (tracks 3, 5, 7)
- Ivan Jullien – trumpet (tracks 3, 5, 7)
- Jean-Louis Chautemps, Alain Hatot – saxophone (tracks 3, 5, 7)
- Producer – Gus Dudgeon
- Engineer – Ken Scott
- Remixed at Trident Studios (London, UK).
- Coordinator – Steve Brown
- Art Direction and Sleeve Design – David Larkham and Michael Ross
- Cover Photo – Ed Caraeff
- Booklet Photography – Ed Caraeff, Bryan Forbes, Maxine Taupin and Michael Ross.
Charts and certifications
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- "The Official UK Charts Company : ALBUM CHART HISTORY". Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
- "American album certifications – Elton John – Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.