Tumbleweed Connection

Tumbleweed Connection is the third studio album by English singer-songwriter Elton John. It was recorded at Trident Studios, London, England in March 1970, and released in October 1970 in the United Kingdom and January 1971 in the United States. It is a concept album based on country and western/Americana themes. All songs are written by John and Bernie Taupin, with the exception of "Love Song" by Lesley Duncan.

Tumbleweed Connection
Studio album by
Released30 October 1970
January 1971 (US)
RecordedMarch 1970
StudioTrident, London
ProducerGus Dudgeon
Elton John chronology
Elton John
Tumbleweed Connection
Singles from Tumbleweed Connection.
  1. "Country Comfort"
    Released: 1971 (Australia, New Zealand and Brazil only)[2][3]

In 2012, Tumbleweed Connection was ranked #458 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The album peaked at #2 on the UK Albums Chart and #5 on the US Billboard 200 chart.[4][5][6] In the US, it was certified gold in March 1971 and platinum in August 1998 by the RIAA.


Basic tracks for three of the album's titles, "Come Down in Time", "Country Comfort" and "Burn Down the Mission", were recorded at Trident during the sessions for the previous LP, Elton John, with overdubs completed for Tumbleweed Connection. An early version of "Madman Across the Water", featuring Mick Ronson on electric guitar, was also recorded during the sessions for the album. It was released on several albums and reissues of Tumbleweed Connection, though the track was ultimately re-recorded for the Madman Across the Water album.[7]

Dee Murray and Nigel Olsson appear for the first time together on this album as the rhythm section on "Amoreena". Olsson had played on one track on Empty Sky for John in 1969. It is Murray's first appearance on an Elton John album. In addition to several studio players who also performed on John's previous self-titled second album, several tracks feature backing musicians from the band Hookfoot, who were also his DJM Records label mates. Hookfoot guitarist Caleb Quaye and drummer Roger Pope had also appeared on John's Empty Sky album.

No singles were released from the album in the US by either DJM or John's US distributor, Universal Records, but "Country Comfort" (b/w "Love Song") was released as a single in Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.[3]

Other versions and Performances

"Country Comfort" was recorded in 1970 for Gasoline Alley, the second album by Rod Stewart. Stewart also performed the song live with Elton John dressed as a hornet, live at a fund-raising gig at the Vicarage Road Stadium of the Watford Football Club (the Watford Hornets) on 5 May 1974 (Nazareth were the opening act), the same month that Elton John's eighth album, Caribou, was released for the price of 1 pound.

"Come Down in Time" was covered by Sting in 1991 for the Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin tribute album. For the same album, Phil Collins recorded "Burn Down the Mission".

"Amoreena" was used in the opening credits of the 1975 movie "Dog Day Afternoon" directed by Sidney Lumet starring Al Pacino and John Cazale.

In 1998, a bootleg CD was released called Tumbleweed Collection. This was a collection of piano demos and live tracks.

Australian country singer Keith Urban recorded a cover of "Country Comfort" on his 2004 album Be Here.

"Love Song" (by Lesley Duncan) was recorded by many artists, including Peggy Lee, David Bowie (demo), Olivia Newton-John, Dionne Warwick, Marianne Faithfull and Neil Diamond.[8]


The wraparound cover photo for the album was taken at Sheffield Park railway station in Sussex, approximately 30 miles (50 km) south of London on the Bluebell Railway. Photographer Ian Digby Ovens[9] captured John (seated to the right in the photo but appearing to the left on the front cover, shown above) and Taupin (standing to the left, on the back cover) in front of the late-nineteenth-century station, to represent the album's rural Americana concept despite the English location. Additional photos were taken from the interior of a train on the line for the album liner notes and libretto.

In August 2020, the Bluebell Railway announced that, to mark the 50th anniversary of the release of the album, it had restored the station to look as it did when the cover photo was taken, giving people an opportunity to re-create the scene in their own photos.[10]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideB–[12]
Rolling Stone(mixed)[14]
Rolling Stone (deluxe edition)[15]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[16]
The Village VoiceC+[18]
Yahoo! Music(favourable)[19]
Tumbleweed Connection Platinum Record

The album peaked at #2 on the UK Albums Chart and #5 on the US Billboard 200 chart.[4][5] In the US, it was certified gold in March 1971 and platinum in August 1998 by the RIAA.

In 2012, Tumbleweed Connection was ranked #458 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Critical reception

Reviewing later for Allmusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote: "Half of the songs don't follow conventional pop song structures; instead, they flow between verses and vague choruses. These experiments are remarkably successful, primarily because Taupin's lyrics are evocative and John's melodic sense is at its best."

Robert Christgau wrote in his 1981 Record Guide: "good melodies and bad Westerns on it. Why do people believe that these latter qualify as songpoems?" (Note: There's an earlier Christgau's review of the album, written in 1970 for The Village Voice). Reviewing for Rolling Stone (Deluxe edition), David Fricke wrote: "1971’s Tumbleweed Connection needs no improvement; it is one of the best country-rock albums ever written by London cowboys."

Robert Hillburn wrote for Los Angeles Times: "Tumbleweed Connection is that near-perfect album that artists often spend a whole career trying to produce."[20] Dave DiMartino wrote for Yahoo! Music: "A step up from the slightly more overtly commercial Elton John... Tumbleweed is beautifully recorded and filled with very fine songs... Bordering on classic status."

Track listing

All tracks are written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, except where noted.

Side one
1."Ballad of a Well-known Gun"4:59
2."Come Down in Time"3:25
3."Country Comfort"5:06
4."Son of Your Father"3:48
5."My Father's Gun"6:20
Side two
6."Where to Now St. Peter?"4:11
7."Love Song" (Lesley Duncan)3:41
9."Talking Old Soldiers"4:06
10."Burn Down the Mission"6:21
Total length:46:56
Bonus tracks (1995 Mercury and 2001 Rocket reissue)
11."Into the Old Man's Shoes"4:02
12."Madman Across the Water" (Original version, featuring Mick Ronson)8:50
Total length:59:48
2008 deluxe edition bonus disc
1."There's Goes a Well Known Gun" (Previously unreleased band demo)3:27
2."Come Down in Time" (Piano demo)3:39
3."Country Comfort" (Piano demo)4:12
4."Son of Your Father" (Previously unreleased piano demo)4:12
5."Talking Old Soldiers" (Piano demo)4:13
6."Into the Old Man's Shoes" (Piano demo)3:40
7."Sister of the Cross" (Piano demo)4:38
8."Madman Across the Water" (Original version, featuring Mick Ronson)8:50
9."Into the Old Man's Shoes"4:02
10."My Father's Gun" (BBC session)3:43
11."Ballad of a Well-Known Gun" (BBC session)4:36
12."Burn Down the Mission" (BBC session)6:52
13."Amoreena" (BBC session)5:12
Total length:59:16


Track numbers refer to CD and digital releases of the album.

  • Elton John – lead vocals, acoustic piano (1, 3-6, 8-10), Hammond organ (8), backing vocals (10)
  • Brian Dee – Hammond organ (10, 13)
  • Caleb Quaye – lead guitar (1, 4, 6, 8), acoustic guitar (1, 3, 5, 6), electric guitar (5)
  • Les Thatcher – acoustic guitar (2, 10), 12-string acoustic guitar (3)
  • Gordon Huntleysteel guitar (3)
  • Lesley Duncan – backing vocals (1, 4, 5, 7), acoustic guitar (7)
  • Mike Egan – acoustic guitar (10)
  • Dave Glover – bass guitar (1, 4-6)
  • Herbie Flowers – bass guitar (2, 3, 10)
  • Chris Laurence – acoustic bass (2, 10)
  • Dee Murray – backing vocals (3, 6), bass guitar (8)
  • Roger Pope – drums (1, 4-6), percussion (1)
  • Barry Morgan – drums (2, 3, 10)
  • Nigel Olsson – backing vocals (3, 6), drums (8)
  • Robin Jones – congas (10), tambourine (10)
  • Karl Jenkins – oboe (2)
  • Skaila Kanga – harp (2)
  • Ian Duck – harmonica (3, 4)
  • Johnny Van Derek – violin (3)
  • Paul Buckmasterarrangements, conductor, orchestration
  • Madeline Bell – backing vocals (1, 4, 5)
  • Tony Burrows – backing vocals (1, 5)
  • Kay Garner – backing vocals (1, 4, 5)
  • Tony Hazzard – backing vocals (1, 5)
  • Dusty Springfield – backing vocals (1, 5)
  • Tammi Hunt – backing vocals (4)
  • Heather Wheatman – backing vocals (4)
  • Yvonne Wheatman – backing vocals (4)




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  3. "Country Comfort" single, Discogs, retrieved 12 October 2020
  4. "Elton John > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  5. "Elton John Billboard 200 chart history", Billboard, retrieved 12 October 2020
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  9. "Album liner notes". albumlinernotes.com.
  10. "Bluebell Railway Offers Elton John Fans Chance to Recreate Album Cover". Bluebell Railway. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
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  17. "Music Reviews". Uncut.co.uk. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
  18. Christgau, Robert (1970). "Consumer Guide (16)". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  19. Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  20. "'Tumbleweed Connection' – An Early Favourite Reissued on Vinyl". eltonjohn.com. 30 June 2017. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  21. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  22. "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 15, No. 25". RPM. 20 March 1971. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
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