Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me

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"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
Sleeve for 1986-87 live version charity single
Single by Elton John
from the album Caribou
B-side "Sick City"
Released 20 May 1974
Format Vinyl record (7"), audio cassette, CD
Recorded Caribou Ranch, January 1974
Genre Soft rock
Length 5:35
Label MCA, DJM, Rocket/Phonogram
Writer(s) Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Producer(s) Gus Dudgeon
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Elton John singles chronology
"Bennie and the Jets"
(1974)
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
(1974)
"The Bitch Is Back"
(1974)

"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" is a song written by English singer-songwriter Elton John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin. It was originally recorded in 1974 by Elton John for his studio album Caribou and was released as a single that peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and reached number 16 in the UK Singles Chart. The song found further success in 1991 in a live cover version recorded as a duet between John and George Michael, which reached number 1 in the UK and US.

Elton John version[edit]

Background[edit]

"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" was co-written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin during a ten-day period in January 1974 along with the other songs for John's Caribou album. The song was released as the first single from the album in May 1974 in the United Kingdom, and on 10 June 1974 in the United States.

The chorus of the song is supported with a horn arrangement by Del Newman, and features backing vocals by the Beach Boys' Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston, and Toni Tennille. Also on the song are percussion accents provided by Ray Cooper and a mellotron played by Dave Hentschel.

Lyrics and music[edit]

In the song, Elton John sings to someone he has helped and from whom he is now experiencing rejection:

I took a chance and changed your way of life
but you misread my meaning when I met you
closed the door and left me blinded by the light
don't let the sun go down on me
although I search myself, it's always someone else I see.
I'd just allow a fragment of your life to wander free
but losing everything is like the sun going down on me.

Reception[edit]

"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" charted on 1 June 1974 in the UK, reaching number 16 in the UK Singles Chart. The song reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart after four weeks, peaking at number 2 for two weeks from 27 July behind John Denver's "Annie's Song". In the US, the single was certified Gold on 6 September 1974 by the RIAA. In Canada, it reached number 1, becoming his fifth chart topper in that country.[1]

Track listings[edit]

  • May 1974 US/UK 7" vinyl single
  1. "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
  2. "Sick City"

Personnel[edit]

Accolades[edit]

Grammy Awards
Year Nominee/Work Award Result
1975 "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" Record of the Year Nominated
Best Pop Vocal Performance – Male[3] Nominated

Chart performance and certifications[edit]

1986/1987 live version[edit]

Elton John recorded a live version on 14 December 1986 that appears on the Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra album. An edited version of this recording was released as a single in 1987 and also appears in the To Be Continued... box set.

George Michael and Elton John version[edit]

"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
Single by George Michael and Elton John
from the album Duets
Released 30 November 1991
Format Vinyl record (7" and 12"), audio cassette, CD
Recorded Wembley Arena, London, 23 March 1991
Genre Pop, soft rock
Length 5:47
Label Columbia, Epic
Writer(s) Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Producer(s) George Michael
Certification Silver (BPI)
Gold (RIAA)
George Michael chronology
"Cowboys and Angels"
(1991)
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
(1991)
"Too Funky"
(1992)
Elton John chronology
"Easier to Walk Away"
(1990)
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
(1991)
"The One"
(1992)

Background[edit]

In 1991, "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" was covered in a live version as a duet by George Michael and Elton John. This version of the song had its greatest success. The pair first performed the song at the Live Aid concert in 1985 (with Michael singing and John playing). Six years later, George Michael's Cover to Cover tour regularly included the song, and for the last show at Wembley Arena, London on 23 March 1991, Michael brought out John as a surprise guest to sing it with him.

Reception[edit]

The live recording of this song, released as a single later that year, became a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic. It reached number one on the UK Singles Chart for two weeks in December 1991 and for one week on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1992. The duet also spent two weeks at number one on the Adult Contemporary chart.[13]

This version of the song was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

It appears on John's Love Songs and Greatest Hits 1970-2002 compilations, as well as his 1994 Duets album. The proceeds from the single were divided among 10 different charities for children, AIDS and education.

Music video[edit]

The footage used for the single's music video (directed by Andy Morahan)[14] was taken from a "live" concert in Chicago with 70,000 fans. "The video was actually shot over several days," confirms Michael Pagnotta, George's publicist. "It was shot in an airline hangar in Burbank, California where George had been rehearsing; Elton came in for a night and they ran through the song a couple of times. Then the song was filmed in its entirety live in Chicago in the middle of October as part of that Cover to Cover tour, and when Elton came out from the wings, that place went crazy."[citation needed]

Track listings[edit]

  • February 1991 UK 7" vinyl single/cassette
  1. "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
  2. "Song for Guy"
  • February 1991 UK 12" vinyl/CD single
  1. "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
  2. "Song for Guy"
  3. "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"
  • November 1991 US/UK 7" vinyl/cassette single
  1. (John & George Michael) "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
  2. (Michael) "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)"
  • November 1991 US/UK 12 vinyl single
  1. (John & George Michael) "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
  2. (Michael) "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)"
  3. (Michael) "Last Christmas"
  • November 1991 US/UK compact disc single
  1. (John & George Michael) "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
  2. (Michael) "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)"
  3. (Michael) "If You Were My Woman"
  4. (Michael) "Fantasy"
  • November 1991 US/UK compact disc single
  1. (John & George Michael) "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
  2. (Michael) "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)"
  3. (Michael) "Freedom (Back to Reality Mix)"
  4. (Michael) "If You Were My Woman"

Chart performance and certifications[edit]

Other versions[edit]

"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" has been a popular song for other artists to perform or record including:

Chart successions[edit]

Elton John version

Preceded by
"Annie's Song" by John Denver
Canadian RPM number-one single
10–17 August 1974 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Feel Like Makin' Love" by Roberta Flack

George Michael/Elton John version

Preceded by
"Black Or White" by Michael Jackson
UK number one single
7 December 1991 – 14 December 1991 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Bohemian Rhapsody/These Are the Days of Our Lives" by Queen
Norwegian VG-lista number one single
52/1991 – 5/1992 (7 weeks)
Succeeded by
"You" by Ten Sharp
Preceded by
"I Love Your Smile" by Shanice
Dutch Top 40 number one single
11 January 1992 – 29 February 1992 (8 weeks)
Succeeded by
"I Can't Dance" by Genesis
Preceded by
"Let's Talk About Sex" by Salt-n-Pepa
Swiss number one single
26 January 1992 – 1 March 1992 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Das Boot" by U96
Preceded by
"All 4 Love" by Color Me Badd
US Billboard Hot 100 number one single
1 February 1992 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred
Preceded by
"Can't Let Go" by Mariah Carey
US Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single
8–15 February 1992
Succeeded by
"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" by Paul Young
Preceded by
"Black or White" by Michael Jackson
Eurochart Hot 100 number one single
8 February 1992 – 28 March 1992 (8 weeks)
Succeeded by
"To Be with You" by Mr. Big
Preceded by
"Qui a le droit... (live)" by Patrick Bruel
French SNEP number one single
22 February 1992 – 4 April 1992 (7 weeks)
Succeeded by
"You" by Ten Sharp

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2014-03-30. 
  2. ^ http://www.planetmellotron.com/revjohn.htm
  3. ^ "Grammy Awards: Best Pop Vocal Performance - Male". rockonthenet.com. Retrieved 13 July 2015. 
  4. ^ "Elton John – Chart history" Canadian Hot 100 for Elton John. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  5. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Elton John – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  6. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  7. ^ "Archive Chart: 1974-06-15" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  8. ^ "Elton John – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Elton John. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  9. ^ "Elton John – Chart history" Billboard Adult Contemporary for Elton John. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  10. ^ Bac-lac.gc.ca
  11. ^ http://www.musicoutfitters.com/topsongs/1974.htm
  12. ^ "American single certifications – Elton John – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 169. 
  14. ^ Garcia, Alex S. "mvdbase.com - George Michael - "Don't let the Sun go down on me"". Music Video DataBase. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Australian-charts.com – George Michael and Elton John – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  16. ^ "Austriancharts.at – George Michael and Elton John – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  17. ^ "George Michael – Chart history" Canadian Hot 100 for George Michael.
  18. ^ "Lescharts.com – George Michael and Elton John – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  19. ^ "Musicline.de – George Michael and Elton John Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  20. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  21. ^ "Italiancharts.com – George Michael and Elton John – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". Top Digital Download. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  22. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – George Michael and Elton John – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  23. ^ "Charts.org.nz – George Michael and Elton John – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  24. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – George Michael and Elton John – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". VG-lista. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  25. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – George Michael and Elton John – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  26. ^ "Swisscharts.com – George Michael and Elton John – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  27. ^ "Archive Chart: 1991-12-07" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 15 January 2009.
  28. ^ "George Michael – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for George Michael.
  29. ^ "George Michael – Chart history" Billboard Adult Contemporary for George Michael.
  30. ^ "1991 Top 100 Singles". Music Week (London, England: Spotlight Publications): 20. 11 January 1992. 
  31. ^ "1992 Austrian Singles Chart" (in German). Austriancharts. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  32. ^ "1992 Austrian Singles Chart" (in Dutch). Dutchcharts. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  33. ^ "1992 Swiss Singles Chart" (in German). Swisscharts. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  34. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1992". Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  35. ^ "French single certifications – George Michael and Elton John – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  36. ^ "British single certifications – George Michael and Elton John – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
  37. ^ "American single certifications – George Michael and Elton John – Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  38. ^ "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" on YouTube, Maynard Ferguson (Retrieved 2 March 2009)
  39. ^ "Winans, The - Decisions (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2014-03-30. 
  40. ^ Collar, Matt. "Under the Influence - Straight No Chaser". Allmusic. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 

External links[edit]