Thursday, December 29, 2022

"Healing Hands" by Elton John

Song#:  4013
Date:  08/26/1989
Debut:  78
Peak:  13
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  After the dud 1986 album Leather Jackets (#91), John returned in '88 with the more focused effort Reg Strikes Back. It would be a #16 gold seller thanks to the #2 Pop/#1 AC hit "I Don't Wanna Go on with You Like That." Then earlier in '89, John would be a guest duet partner on Aretha Franklin's "Through the Storm" (#16 Pop/#3 AC). With his career back on track, John and his writing partner Bernie Taupin set out to create a concept-style album. They wanted to compose new songs inspired by 60s R&B/soul artists such as Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. The concept was similar to what Billy Joel had done with his '83 album An Innocent Man. To kick things off, this first single was released. It was inspired by The Four Tops' 1966 #1 Pop/#1 R&B hit "Reach Out I'll Be There." The tune would be a hit at AC getting to #1. On the Pop chart, it stopped just shy of the Top 10. The hit would help send the album to #23. Not long after reaching that peak, the LP would go gold. This song would be John's last to reach the Pop chart in the 80s.

ReduxReview:  John has amassed over 40 Pop Top 20 hits in his career. With a large total like that, some songs will be memorable classics while other will be forgotten soon after their chart run. This one falls in the latter category. I had forgotten that this one actually made the Top 20. While it was fine and did the job at the time to promote the LP, it was a tune that didn't have legs. By contrast, the second single, "Sacrifice," didn't do quite as well on the chart (#18), but it has been been a mainstay in his catalog and even got a revamp of sorts in 2021 (see below). While I didn't think the concept for the album worked or was taken far enough, it was a pretty good effort.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The LP's second single, "Sacrifice," would get on the Pop chart early in January of '90. It would get to #18 while making it to #3 AC. The tune would help sell more albums and send Sleeping with the Past to the platinum level, his first hit that mark since '84's Breaking Hearts. Upon initial release, "Healing Hands" and "Sacrifice" were duds at home in the UK with both missing the Top 40. However, early in '90 a DJ for BBC Radio 1 added "Sacrifice" to the station's playlist. Other DJs and stations would follow suit. With the song catching on, John's label then reissued the song paired with "Healing Hands." It would end up spending five weeks at #1. The hit was John's first #1 at home in the UK. The surprise success then send the album to #1, which was his first studio album to reach that mark since '74's Caribou. 2) The 90s was a highly successful decade for John. In addition to three hit solo albums (two platinum, one double-platinum), John would hit it big with his score to1994 Disney animated film The Lion King (#1, 10x platinum). He would also earn a #1 Pop single in 1991 with the live George Michael duet "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." Then in '97 John's tribute to Princess Diana, "Candle in the Wind 1997," would set sales records. It remains the biggest selling single of the rock era (over 33 million) and overall is in second place behind Bing Crosby's "White Christmas." John would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. He would continue to record and have success into the new millennium. To-date he has won two Oscars, a Tony, and six Grammys. In 2021, John would assemble the LP The Lockdown Sessions. It featured some previously releases tracks, but also included new collaborations that he was able to do during COVID. A single from the album, "Cold Heart," was a mashup of a few Elton John songs including "Sacrifice." It was done as a duet with Dua Lipa and featured producer Pnau. It would be an unexpected hit reaching #7 Pop becoming his first US Top 10 hit since 1997. John would then do another collab recording in 2022. He would team up with Britney Spears for "Hold Me Closer," another mashup of John songs including "Tiny Dancer." It would reach #6.


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