Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)

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"Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)"
Single by Elton John
from the album Jump Up!
B-side"Take Me Down to the Ocean"
Released12 March 1982
RecordedSeptember-October 1981
LengthSingle - 4:06
LP - 5:05
LabelGeffen (US)
Rocket (UK)
Songwriter(s)Elton John
Bernie Taupin
Producer(s)Chris Thomas
Elton John singles chronology
"Blue Eyes"
"Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)"

"Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)" is a song composed and performed by English musician Elton John, with lyrics by longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin. It originally appeared on John's 1982 album Jump Up!. The song is a tribute to John Lennon, who had been shot and killed 18 months earlier.

Composition and background[edit]

Lennon and John were good friends, and in 1974, Lennon appeared on John's single cover of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", the B-side of which was Lennon's "One Day at a Time". The pair later collaborated on "Whatever Gets You thru the Night" which appeared on Lennon's Walls and Bridges album. Lennon agreed to appear in concert with Elton if "Whatever Gets You thru the Night" became a #1 single, which it did. On Thanksgiving Day, 1974, Lennon and John performed these two songs along with "I Saw Her Standing There". This would be Lennon's last live performance. The song title "Empty Garden" refers to where the performance was (Madison Square Garden).[1]

When Lennon's son Sean was born in 1975, Elton was made godfather.

After Lennon's death, Elton was concerned that a tribute song to the late Beatle would be "clumsy" – until he saw Taupin's lyrics. The lyric "Can't you come out to play?" may refer to Lennon's song "Dear Prudence".

Elton John wrote and recorded an earlier instrumental tribute to Lennon, "The Man Who Never Died", which was issued as the B-side of "Nikita" in 1985 and eventually included as a bonus track on the remastered reissue of Ice on Fire.

The song is written using the chords of the E major scale.

Live versions[edit]

Elton has rarely performed the song live, after the 1982 world tour, because it brings back many painful memories of Lennon's murder, as he once stated during a concert on 5 November 1999, at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin, and prior to that at a concert on 9 October 1988 at The Centrum in Worcester, Massachusetts. In the latter case, John played the song, as well as "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," in his third encore to mark what would have been Lennon's 48th birthday.

Notable performances include one at Madison Square Garden, with Lennon's widow Yoko and Elton's godson Sean in the audience in 1982. He also performed the song during his first appearance on the 17 April 1982 episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Johnny Cash.

In April 2013, John added the song to the setlist of The Million Dollar Piano, his residency show at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.


Three percussion instruments – namely castanets, maracas and tambourine – are audible, possibly overdubs from Jeff Porcaro or perhaps an uncredited percussionist.

Chart performance[edit]


  1. ^ Jeff Woolf, Scott Jennings and James L. Halperin (Editor) Icons of 20th Century Music: Heritage-Odyssey Auction, Heritage Capital Corporation.
  2. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Empty Garden". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  3. ^ [Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-2002]
  4. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles". Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  5. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca.
  6. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1982/Top 100 Songs of 1982". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  7. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1982". Archived from the original on 2014-10-26. Retrieved 2015-07-08.

External links[edit]