Sunday, November 22, 2020

"Candle in the Wind" by Elton John

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3326
Date:  11/07/1987
Debut:  68
Peak:  6
Weeks:  21
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  John's 1986 album Leather Jackets was the worst performing album of his career in the US. It featured to Top 40 singles and topped out at a very minor #91. It was a big disappointment after a solid run of four gold and platinum albums. It did better in other territories including Australia where it got to #4. That made Australia the perfect place to wind up his associated tour. For this last leg, which got titled the Tour de Force, John arranged a special show that would play for 28 dates in 5 Australian cities. The first half of the show featured John and his backing band while the second half had John performing with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The final show on the tour was recorded and the second half of the show was assembled and released as an album titled Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. To promote the album, this single was issued out. It ended up becoming a surprise hit reaching #2 at AC and becoming his twenty-first US Pop Top 10. The song helped the album get to #24 and go gold. Eventually it would be certified platinum. The hit put John back on the map and helped people forget about his Leather Jackets misstep

ReduxReview:  I loved this song as a kid. Even though I was only nine years old at the time it was originally released (see below), I already knew who Marilyn Monroe was and I thought the lyrics and melody were so beautiful. A few years later I was able to buy the album and I played the track a lot. In fact, the whole first side of the double-LP Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, which included this song, was sheer perfection. I didn't realize until much later that the song was never a hit. Still, everyone knew it. Then this live version came out. While it wasn't nearly as good as the original, it was well done and it helped bring the song to a younger generation who may not have known the song. I think the only thing I miss here is that John didn't involve the orchestra. It was just him on piano and a keyboard player filling out the arrangement. The addition of the orchestra might have made the song soar. I ended up buying the album and it ended up being the rare live set that I enjoyed.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) If John's vocals seemed a little rough on the album it was because he had polyps on his vocal chords. His condition had worsened over the tour and the show that was recorded was his last before he would undergo surgery to remove the polyps. The surgery was successful and after a lengthy period of rest, John was able to sing again. However, the surgery (along with getting older) altered his voice. He began to sing in a deeper register and also lost his ability to do falsetto. Considering that the risky surgery could have resulted in him losing his voice or singing voice (a la Julie Andrews), the outcome was good and it allowed John to continue his career.  2) This is a remake of a song that John himself originally co-wrote and recorded for his classic 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. The tune, a tribute to the legendary Marilyn Monroe, was never released as a single in the US despite its popularity. It was released elsewhere like in the UK where it got to #11. The enduring classic finally got its chance to chart in the US with the live version. Eleven years later, the song would reach legendary status when John re-recorded it with new lyrics as a tribute to Princess Diana. Candle in the Wind '97 would become the biggest selling single in the history of the rock era and the second biggest of all-time (after Bing Crosby's "White Christmas").



  1. I haven't heard this version of "Candle In The Wind" but what is your rating for the original? I give the original version of "Candle In The Wind" a 10/10 and the 1997 live version a 7/10

    1. The original gets a 10. It was a big favorite of mine when I was a kid.