Elton John and Bernie Taupin, genealogists?

Elton John has long been regarded as a gifted songwriter. Besides his numerous top 40 hits, he has written for stage (Aida, The Lion King, Billy Elliot) and screen (The Lion King). Along the way, he has won five Grammy Awards and a Tony (for Aida). He and longtime musical collaborator Bernie Taupin have been creating music since 1967.

I’ve been an Elton John fan for a long time. Growing up, I even had a poster of the cover of “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” on my bedroom wall. I have a rare copy of “Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road” on yellow vinyl. What I didn’t realize until today is that either Elton John or lyricist Bernie Taupin (or perhaps both) is a genealogist.

What made me realize this is the name of Elton’s new son Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John. “Levon” is a song off his album “Madman Across the Water.” That by itself isn’t proof, but think of the song. “Levon” is a great genealogical song. In it, we learn:

  • Levon was born “a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas Day, when the New York Times said ‘God is dead and the war’s begun. Alvin Tostig has a son today and he shall be Levon.’ ” (So we have a date of birth and father’s name.)
  • Levon has a child Jesus, so named ” ’cause he likes the name.”
  • “Levon” might be a family name (“And he shall be Levon, in tradition with the family plan.”)
  • Levon has a war wound (though we don’t know if he was in the military or was a civilian casualty).
  • Levon has a family business selling cartoon balloons in town. Jesus works there, too, blowing up balloons all day. Levon appears to be successful, as he spends his days counting in a garage by the motorway.
  • Jesus goes to the finest school in town. (Also, if we lose track of Jesus, we might want to look in Venus, since Jesus wants to go there.)

How many other popular songs contain that many genealogical references?! We have three generations, a date of birth, and information about occupations, schools, and possible military service.

Consider, too, the name of Elton John’s album from the late 1980s “Reg Strikes Back.” “Reg” is a reference to his real name (Reginald Kenneth Dwight).

Put the three together (the name of Elton’s son, all of the genealogical references in “Levon,” and the album “Reg Strikes Back”) and I believe that you have a case that Elton John and/or Bernie Taupin is a genealogist. (I wonder how long before one of them will be on the British version of Who Do You Think You Are.)

Posted: December 28, 2010.

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