Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting
|"Saturday Night's Alright (for Fighting)"|
|Single by Elton John|
|from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road|
"Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again)"
|Released||16 July 1973|
|Format||Vinyl record (7")|
|Genre||Hard rock, glam rock|
|Length||4:57 (album version)
4:12 (single version)
|Writer(s)||Elton John, Bernie Taupin|
|Elton John singles chronology|
"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" (sometimes written "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)") is a rock song performed by musician Elton John. It was released as a single from his 1973 studio album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. The song has been covered by W.A.S.P., Flotsam and Jetsam, Nickelback (with Kid Rock and Dimebag Darrell), Queen and The Who. The opening riff is frequently used by Tommy Emmanuel as a rock breakout when playing his interpretation of "Classical Gas". The song (with extended ending) is a playable track in the music video games Rock Band 3 and Guitar Hero 5, as well as a song featured in one of the radio stations in Grand Theft Auto V.
Background and writing
The song, with lyrics by Bernie Taupin and music by John, is written in the key of G Major alternating with C Major on the chorus. It is one of John's harder-rocking songs (similar to "Grow Some Funk of Your Own" and "The Bitch Is Back"), with a sound echoing bands such as The Who and The Rolling Stones (The Who later covered it in 1991). The song is a complete departure from his past renown as a mellow singer/songwriter.
The song was one of the few John-Taupin songs that Elton said was not a "typical piano number". According to John's recollection in Elizabeth Rosenthal's His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John, it may have been written on the piano at first, but the song ended up being recorded somewhat in reverse to the normal way he records, with the band putting their tracks down, and Elton overdubbing his piano afterward. (John's typical process at the time, and to a large extent before and since, was to either record the piano first or play along with the band. "Saturday Night ... " represented a departure from that process.) Elton called the song "hard to record".
The song was released in 1973 (see 1973 in music) as the album's first single, and entered the Top Ten in the UK and the Top 20 in the U.S. Despite only being a modest success compared to his other hits, it remains one of his best-known songs.
The song was banned on many radio stations fearing that the title would incite violence.
Composition and inspiration
"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" is a lively throwback to early rock and roll with a glam edge; the lyrics discuss a night out in town in which the narrator plans to "get about as oiled as a diesel train". Taupin has said that the song was meant to be an American rock and roll song, set in Britain, and was inspired by his raucous teenage days, in particular in the fights happening in his local pub, the Aston Arms  in Market Rasen. This song was the only one recorded during Elton and the band's time in Jamaica, where they had initially planned to record the album, but was never used, due to the poor quality of the recording equipment. John described the sound of the Jamaican recording of "Saturday" as sounding like "it had been recorded on the worst transistor radio". This experience prompted the band to return to France to finish the album.
Apart from his lyrical contributions, in the Eagle Vision documentary, Classic Albums: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Taupin said that a lot of the power of the song comes from the chords, adding it also features what he called one of the great "strident, blistering guitar chords ever created" in rock and roll.
The rock band Queen has covered it numerous times in their concerts. In 1988, it was covered on Flotsam and Jetsam's album No Place for Disgrace. In 1991, The Who covered it for the album Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin, also incorporating a segment of "Take Me to the Pilot"; a year later, both John and The Who's lead singer Roger Daltrey would perform at the tribute concert for Queen's lead singer Freddie Mercury. In 2003 it was also performed by Nickelback (featuring Kid Rock and Dimebag Darrell) and included in the soundtrack for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle as well as certain copies of The Long Road and as the B-side of their CD single, "Gotta Be Somebody". The song was also covered by Paul Burnley on the album Paul Burnley is the Real Public Enemy.
It is also used by the U.S. cable network Showtime as introduction music for its Showtime Championship Boxing series (as the series airs on the first Saturday of each month). An edited version of the song is used at the end of the opening tease for the CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, as that series airs on Saturday nights. It was also used as the theme song for TBS's Saturday Night College Football. In the show's open, the song was accompanied by a drumline and cymbalists, while clips of the two teams playing the night's featured game were interspersed throughout.
In film, the track appears under the main title sequence of the 1985 movie Fandango, directed by Kevin Reynolds, starring Kevin Costner, Suzy Amis, Sam Robards and Judd Nelson, which was produced through Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment company and released by Warner Brothers. The song also plays during the opening of the 2010 UK film Cemetery Junction.
Louisiana State University plays a mash-up version of the song beginning with Elton John's original and ending with Nickelback's rendition at the beginning of every home football game, with highlights from yesteryear played on the big screens in the in stadium during the Elton John portion and new highlights shown during the Nickelback part.
American Idol season 10 contestant James Durbin performed this song while in the second (due to the season's one save) top 11 competition round.
In 1996, Australian band New Waver covered it on their cassette album Mr Loser-Boozer Goes to Town as track 10. It was then re–released in an edited and remastered version on their best of album Neuters.
All songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
- "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" - 4:12
- "Jack Rabbit" - 1:50
- "Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again)" - 2:50
||The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (June 2013)|
In the U.S., the song entered the Billboard Top 40 the week of 11 August 1973, rose to #12, and stayed in the Top 40 for nine weeks. It was the only single by Elton John that failed to make the Top 10 in the three-year, 13-hit period between May 1972 ("Rocket Man") and October 1975 ("Island Girl"). It was the only Elton John single that failed to go gold or platinum in the three-year, 11-hit period between December 1972 ("Crocodile Rock") and October 1975 ("Island Girl").
In the UK, the song entered the Music Week Top 50 the week of 7 July 1973, rose to #7, and stayed in the charts for 9 weeks.
|UK Singles Chart||7|
|US Billboard Hot 100||12|
- "BBC: The Official UK Charts Company". United Kingdom sales chart. Retrieved 11 June 2006.
- "Billboard". Billboard Hot 100 airplay and sales charts. Retrieved 11 June 2006.