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|Single by Elton John|
|from the album Elton John|
|B-side||"Bad Side of the Moon"|
|Released||24 April 1970|
|Format||Vinyl record (7")|
|Recorded||January 1970; Trident Studios|
DJM Records (UK)
|Songwriter(s)||Elton John, Bernie Taupin|
|Elton John singles chronology|
"Border Song" is a song originally performed by British musician Elton John. Lyrics are credited to Bernie Taupin (although John himself wrote the words to the final verse). The music was composed by John.
"Border Song" initially appeared on the 1970 album Elton John, and was released in the spring of 1970 as the LP's first single. A flop in the UK, it was released in North America a few months later. It met with more success there, especially in Canada, where it peaked at #34. The appearance of "Border Song" on the Canadian charts was Elton John's first chart appearance in any country.
"Border Song" was also John's first song to chart in the United States, peaking at #92 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #69 in the Cash Box Top 100 in October 1970. A cover by soul icon Aretha Franklin (listed with "Holy Moses" following the title in parentheses, to make it more identifiable as being a repeated phrase in the song) fared better reaching #37 in the Billboard Hot 100 and #23 in the Cash Box Top 100 in December 1970. It was included as the closing track of Aretha's 1972 Young, Gifted and Black album as well.
Music and lyrics
John has said that the song is about the alienation Taupin felt in and about London at the time ("Brand of people who ain't my kind"), and his desire to visit home as often as he could. Some believe the song is speaking against bigotry. The last verse, written by John himself, seems to support this idea: "Holy Moses, let us live in peace/let us strive to find a way to make all hatred cease/there's a man over there. What's his colour I don't care/he's my brother let us live in peace."
Format and track list
- 1970 US/Canadian 7" single
- "Border Song" 3:22
- "Bad Side of the Moon" 3:15
- Madeline Bell – backing vocals
- Tony Burrows – backing vocals
- Roger Cook – backing vocals
- Brian Dee – organ
- Leslie Duncan – backing vocals
- Kate Garner – backing vocals
- Colin Green – guitar
- Tony Hazzard – backing vocals
- Clive Hicks – guitar
- Elton John – piano, vocals
- Barry Morgan – drums
- Dave Richmond – bass
- Choir led by Barbara Moore
- Arranged and conducted by Paul Buckmaster
- R&B/Soul/Gospel singer Dorothy Morrison recorded a version for her 1970 album Brand New Day.
- Aretha Franklin's album 1972 album Young, Gifted and Black concludes with her solo cover of this song.
- The 5th Dimension recorded a version for their 1972 album Individually & Collectively.
- The 1991 tribute album Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin leads with a cover of "Border Song" by Eric Clapton.
- Elton John and Aretha Franklin performed the song together on Franklin's 1993 Duets special.
- In 1996, Sophie B. Hawkins recorded the song for the soundtrack of the movie The Associate.
- Country music legend Willie Nelson covered the song for the 2018 tribute album Restoration: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.
Bad Side of the Moon
Border Song's B-Side, Bad Side of the Moon, was subsequently covered by April Wine, whose version is on their album On Record and was released as their second single from that album, and by Toe Fat, whose version appears on their self-titled debut album and also released as a single. The song became a big hit in Canada, reaching #16 on the Canadian Hot 100. April Wine's version remains a staple of classic rock radio in North America.
- "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-02.
- "Cash Box Top 100 10/03/70". tropicalglen.com. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
- "Cash Box Top 100 12/19/70". tropicalglen.com. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
- 40, Stichting Nederlandse Top. "Elton John - Border Song". Top40.nl. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
- ""Border Song" Aretha Franklin and Elton John duet LIVE". YouTube. 1996-11-15. Retrieved 2016-10-02.