The first time that I heard the song, I thought that it was about the Biblical Ahab, the one that did not recognize the “real” prophet out of 400. Then I realized that this song has absolutely no resemblance to that story whatsoever.
I’m not sure why, but I never actually read Moby-Dick. The thing is, the idea of a vengeful captain chasing after a whale never seemed interesting to me. that is why only after searching it on internet and listening to the song closely again I realized that it was about Ahab of Herman Melville. But it’s not just Ahab, or Jonah (which gets mentioned) I think the lyrics carry a very important message: There are things in life that cannot be avoided, but we have to face them, and never fear them, because there is always hope.
The song is more than lyrics however, the rich voice of Elton John combined with the rock duel between pianos and the constant recognizable voice of Russel in the chorus has made an amazing piece of music.
Check them out on YouTube, playing for SNL, which is by far my favourite live version.