Philadelphia Freedom (song)
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|Single by The Elton John Band|
|B-side||"I Saw Her Standing There" (live with John Lennon)|
|Released||24 February 1975|
|Writer(s)||Elton John, Bernie Taupin|
|Elton John chronology|
"Philadelphia Freedom" is a song released by The Elton John Band as a single in 1975. The song was one of Elton John's seven #1 US hits during the early and mid-1970s, which saw his recordings dominating the charts. In Canada, it was his eighth single to hit the top of the RPM national singles chart.
The song was written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin as a favour to John's friend, tennis star Billie Jean King. King was part of the Philadelphia Freedoms professional tennis team. The song features an orchestral arrangement by Gene Page, including flutes, horns, and strings.
The song made its album debut on 1977's Elton John's Greatest Hits Volume II. The Unedited version (without an early fade out) appears only on the box set To Be Continued.... and the remaster for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
Recorded in the summer of 1974, during breaks between sessions for Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, the song was at the time the only song Elton John and Bernie Taupin had ever consciously written as a single, as John told journalist Paul Gambaccini. John was looking to honour Billie Jean King, and so asked Taupin to write a song called "Philadelphia Freedom" as a homage to her tennis team, the Philadelphia Freedoms.
In His Song: The Musical History of Elton John, Elizabeth Rosenthal recounts that Taupin said, "I can't write a song about tennis," and did not. Taupin maintains that the lyrics bear no relation to tennis, Philly Soul, or even flag-waving patriotism. Nonetheless, the lyrics have been interpreted as patriotic and uplifting, and even though released in 1975, the song's sentiment, intended or not, meshed perfectly with an American music audience gearing up for the country's bicentennial celebration in July 1976. In the US, the song was certified Gold in 1975 and Platinum in 1995 by the Recording Industry Association of America. Billboard ranked it as the No. 3 song for 1975.
The song was dedicated in part to the Philadelphia sound: the music of the Delfonics, producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff; and The Spinners, producer Thom Bell, with whom John would work two years later on The Thom Bell Sessions. This song plays in Philadelphia's Franklin Institute IMAX Theater before every show as a tribute to the city's love for freedom and its impact on the country. The lyrics are also printed on the walls of the Hard Rock Cafe in Philadelphia.
The B-side, "I Saw Her Standing There", is a live recording of the Elton John Band with John Lennon at Madison Square Garden on 28 November 1974. Three songs from that collaboration were featured on the 1975 album Elton John Band featuring John Lennon and the Muscle Shoals Horns (DJM Records). These recordings can also be found on the Lennon box set and the remastered edition of John's Here and There album.
The song was also covered by Barbie Benton in the "McCloud" episode "Park Avenue Pirates" in 1975.
Some have interpreted "Philadelphia Freedom" as an American patriotic song, owing to patriotic lyrics such as "From the day I was born I waved the flag," the history of Philadelphia as being symbolic with American ideals of freedom as Philadelphia was the site of the Constitutional Convention, houses the Liberty Bell and served as the first capitol of the United States, along with the song's release, which coincided with the United States Bicentennial.
- Elton John – electric piano, vocals
- Ray Cooper – tambourine, maracas, congas
- Davey Johnstone – electric & acoustic guitars
- Dee Murray – bass
- Nigel Olsson – drums
- Orchestral arrangement by Gene Page
- "American certifications – Philadelphia Freedom". Recording Industry Association of America.
- Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1975
- http://www.musik-sammler.de/media/155901 Elton John Band featuring John Lennon and the Muscle Shoals Horns album information
- Lehman, Christopher P. A Critical History of Soul Train on Television. McFarland. p. 120. ISBN 0786436697.
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