Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters

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"Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters"
Song by Elton John from the album Honky Château
Released 1972
Recorded January 1972
Genre Soft Rock
Length 5:00
Label Uni
Writer Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Producer Gus Dudgeon

"Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" is a song from the Elton John album Honky Château. The lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin and is his take on New York City after hearing a gun go off near his hotel window during his first visit to the city.[citation needed] The song's lyrics were partly inspired by Ben E. King's "Spanish Harlem",written by Jerry Leiber & Phil Spector, in which he sings "There is a rose in Spanish Harlem."[1][2] In response to this, Taupin writes,

Now I know
Spanish Harlem are not just pretty words to say
I thought I knew,
but now I know that rose trees never grow in New York City.

Allmusic critic Stewart Mason noted that the song is "less saccharine than many similar Elton John and Bernie Taupin ballads" and praised the "somewhat uncharacteristic emotional directness" of its lyrics.[3]

While Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters

Sons of bankers, sons of lawyers
Turn around and say good morning to the night

Rolling Stone magazine's Jon Landau praised the song when it was released, writing:

Elton himself has called the song "one of my all-time favourites,"[5] upon introducing it at his 60th-birthday concert in New York's Madison Square Garden. John also delivered a heartfelt rendition at "The Concert for New York City" at Madison Square Garden on October 20, 2001. The concert was meant primarily as a tribute for family members and fellow workers of New York's Fire and Police departments, as well as EMT workers, who had been participating in the ongoing recovery efforts at the demolished World Trade Center complex following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. John dedicated the song to the emergency workers and their families, as well as to New York City.

The song was also used in the film Almost Famous, in a scene in New York City, highlighting the loneliness of Kate Hudson's character, who overdoses on quaaludes and champagne.[3]

The song was used in the finale of the American version of Life on Mars. It was also used for the bridal dance in the final episode of the TV series Brothers and Sisters entitled "Walker Down the Aisle".

A more upbeat sequel to the song called "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters (Part Two)" was recorded about 15 years later for John's album Reg Strikes Back.

Cover versions[edit]

The song also inspired a line in the Rob Thomas-penned Santana hit, "Smooth," in which the singer refers to "my Spanish Harlem Mona Lisa."

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ben E. King - Spanish Harlem Lyrics". Metrolyrics.com. 2011-12-26. Retrieved 2012-02-12. 
  2. ^ "Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters by Elton John Songfacts". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 2012-02-12. 
  3. ^ a b Mason, S. "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters". Allmusic. Retrieved 2012-02-29. 
  4. ^ Jon Landau (1972-08-17). "Honky Château". Rolling Stone. 
  5. ^ Nate Chinen (2007-03-27). "Elton John Celebrates 60, Lavishly, in His Garden". New York Times. 
  6. ^ Corey Moss (2003-10-24). "Mandy Moore Scores Elton John's Approval, Finally Gets Her Title". MTV.com. 

External links[edit]