Candle in the Wind
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|"Candle in the Wind"|
Cover of the 1986–87 live version.
|Single by Elton John|
|from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road|
|B-side||"Bennie and the Jets"|
|Format||Vinyl record (7")|
Trident Studios, London
|Genre||Rock, soft rock, glam rock|
|Writer(s)||Elton John, Bernie Taupin|
|Elton John singles chronology|
In 1997, John performed a rewritten version of the song as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales. This version of the song was released as a single and reached No. 1 in many countries, proving a much greater success than the original, officially being listed as the best-selling single of all time.
The original version in the key of E major appeared on John's 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road recorded at Trident Studios, London. The lyrics of the song are a sympathetic portrayal of the life of Marilyn Monroe. (The song's opening line "Goodbye Norma Jean" refers to Monroe's real name.) in the Eagle Vision documentary on the making of the "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" album, Taupin said the song is about "the idea of fame or youth or somebody being cut short in the prime of their life. The song could have been about James Dean, it could have been about Montgomery Clift, it could have been about Jim Morrison ... how we glamorize death, how we immortalize people." The single release of the original song reached No. 11 in the U.K. charts in 1974. At the time, it was not released as a single in the United States ("Bennie and the Jets" was chosen instead). Taupin was inspired to write the song after hearing the phrase "candle in the wind" used in tribute to Janis Joplin.
This version is ranked #347 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
1986 live version
On 14 December 1986, a live version of the song was recorded in Sydney, Australia. It was released in 1987 on the album Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and as a single. In 1988, it reached number five on the UK Singles Chart and number six on the US Billboard Hot 100.
"Candle in the Wind 1997" or "Goodbye England's Rose" is a re-recording of "Candle in the Wind" as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales. Released in 1997, the song peaked at No. 1 in the United Kingdom, becoming John's fourth No. 1 single. It also peaked at No. 1 in several other countries. The Guinness Book of Records in 2007 stated that "Candle in the Wind 1997" is the biggest-selling single "since records began", but that Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" has sold the most copies. The record of this version was produced by George Martin.
2003 acoustic remix
Using the same vocal take as the original 1973 recording, engineer Greg Penny stripped away all instrumentation except Davey Johnstone's acoustic guitar. Even the double-tracking of the lead vocal was removed, leaving Elton and the original backing vocal arrangement of Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson and Davey Johnstone. The remix first appeared as a bonus track on the 30th Anniversary edition of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and subsequently on the 2003 EP Remixed.
- English folk singer Sandy Denny recorded a cover version for her 1977 Rendezvous album.
- English punk band Leatherface recorded a cover version for their second album Fill Your Boots in 1990
- In 1991 David Tyler covered the song on CKBE-FM.
- English alternative singer Kate Bush recorded a cover version for her 1991 "Rocket Man" single.
- Billy Joel performed a cover version during the Elton John and Billy Joel Face to Face 1994 concert.
- New Zealand singer Wing covered the song on her 2009 album Beat It.
(This is a link to the lyrics for "Candle 1997" (England's Rose), not the original "Norma Jean" lyrics)