Audio Example 5 presents the opening minute of the song, from the introductory piano riff through the half cadence ending the first verse. Following this half cadence, the ensuing chorus once again defies the expectations of Classical tonality by beginning not on the tonic but on the root-position IV chord, with the title lyric “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” set to the same IV–passing I–ii progression that we heard in the chorus to “She’s Gone” (also reminiscent of the refrain from another famous song with suicidal tendencies, Brian Wilson’s 1966 masterpiece “God Only Knows” from the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds). Audio Example 6 picks up from the onset of the chorus.When the tonic chord ultimately does emerge, however, it is quite fragile, relegated to a passing harmony in first inversion (Audio Example 2).
 The fragile tonal design of “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” with what seems to be a deliberate avoidance of tonic chords in root position for most of the song, mirrors perfectly the fragile emotional state of the song’s protagonist (which, in this case, we can assume to be Elton John himself).
I do not profess to have to undertaken a systematic corpus study of post-1950s pop and rock songs (such as de Clerq and Temperley  and others have done) and am therefore relying on the large database of pop and rock songs that I carry around in my head, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that most if not all songs with fragile tonics that similarly feature an abundance of second-inversion chords (and with a bass that snakes up and down mostly stepwise) were composed at the piano and not the guitar, since guitar-driven pop and rock songs tend to favor root-position “power” chords (octave-and-fifth doubled, with the third often omitted) and as a result lack the degree of voice-leading independence more typical of keyboard-driven songs.
create a dream world in which time seems to be suspended” (1999, 248).
In fact, the entire introduction and first two verses seem to be all about prolonging the dominant, with particular emphasis placed on the A major over a B bass “slash” chord that begins and ends each verse.
Surveying a variety of such songs by the Beatles and others, Everett aptly notes that “these songs all find their tonics eventually, with a rush of familiarity that often seems like the dissipation of clouds” (2009, 215)—a phenomenon that I call an emergent tonic.
Yet sometimes this aural game of “hunt the tonic” is not quite so simple, a case in point being the Four Tops’ 1966 #1 Motown single “Reach Out I’ll Be There” (Example 2).
The eight-bar introduction to “Reach Out,” which features the song’s signature flute riff, establishes major that repeats five times; these chords get locked into a seemingly ever-repeating loop.
As I have shown in my harmonic analysis below the staff, this two-chord vamp may be interpreted as a repeating ii I invite the reader now to listen to this remarkable series of tonal events in Audio Example 4.
In other words, this represents a back-and-forth alternation between Ionian and Mixolydian modes of the same key.
 Example 3b provides a harmonic reduction of the verse and chorus.