Sacrifice (Elton John song)

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Single by Elton John
from the album Sleeping with the Past
A-side "Healing Hands"
(second release)
B-side "Love Is a Cannibal"
(first release)
Released October 1989 (first release)
May 1990 (second release)
Format CD, vinyl record (7" and 12"), audio cassette
Length 5:11
Label Rocket, MCA
Writer(s) Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Producer(s) Chris Thomas
Certification Platinum UK
Silver France, 1990
Elton John singles chronology
"Healing Hands"
"Club at the End of the Street"

"Sacrifice" is a ballad performed by musician Elton John. The lyrics are by Bernie Taupin and the music by John. The song appears on the 1989 album Sleeping with the Past. It was first released in October 1989, then in 1990, and was the second single from the album. It achieved success, particularly in France and the UK, where it became his first solo chart-topper, spending five weeks at the top.


Background and writing[edit]

"Sacrifice" is inspired both by the Aretha Franklin song "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" and described as a Percy Sledge song by Elton John. The song is beloved by both John and Bernie Taupin and deemed a bookend of sorts to their first hit "Your Song". Taupin has said he is surprised he wrote it, and said in an interview, "I think 'Sacrifice' is one of the best songs we've written." The song is not a typical love song, but rather a song about a breakup of a marriage where the loss of the relationship is "no sacrifice."

Although the single was successful, Elton John did not tour Europe in both 1989–1990 to support the Sleeping with the Past album (with the exception of one appearance in Knebworth Park on 30 June 1990) touring only in the U.S. and Australia. The 1989 European tour was, instead, in support of the Reg Strikes Back album, with no material representing Sleeping with the Past. In all shows that were done to support Sleeping with the Past in 1989–1990, Elton played this song solo on his Roland RD-1000 Digital Piano.

Music video[edit]

The video, which follows the song's lyrics, portrays a man and woman having problems in their relationship after being married and raising a daughter. After they go their separate ways, the man raises his daughter alone. The video was directed by Alek Keshishian and it had Yasmeen Ghauri in it.

The version used in the promo video is slightly sped up compared to the album version. The result is a higher pitched vocal and shorter length time. The video was filmed in Los Angeles in 1989, and was the second video made after Elton rejected a version from Ken Russell.

Chart performance[edit]

Sacrifice was initially released as a single in 1989, but stalled at #55 in the UK charts and at #18 in the US charts in March 1990. In mid-1990 English DJ Steve Wright began playing the song on BBC Radio 1, soon followed by many more radio DJs. The song was then re-released as a double A-side single, along with "Healing Hands", and reached #1 in the UK in June 1990. Thus, it became John's first solo number-one single in the UK Singles Chart, remaining on the top spot for five weeks. With this re-release, Elton John also got his first number one in France and stayed on the chart for 26 weeks.

Track listings[edit]

First release
12" single – UK
  1. "Sacrifice" – 5:07
  2. "Love Is a Cannibal" (From the Columbia Motion Picture Ghostbusters II) – 3:53
CD single – U.S.
  1. "Sacrifice" – 5:07
  2. "Love Is a Cannibal" (from the Columbia Motion Picture Ghostbusters II) – 3:53
  3. "Durban Deep"
Second release
UK single
  1. "Sacrifice" – 5:07
  2. "Healing Hands" – 4:22

Charts and sales[edit]


Cover versions[edit]

"Sacrifice" was covered by Sinéad O'Connor for the 1991 Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin tribute album.

German music project Gregorian covered it for their third album.

Karmina covered the song "Sacrifice" on their album "Rewriting Chapter 2" (2009).

Richard Clayderman covered the song "Sacrifice", which is available on most of his compilation albums.

Preceded by
"Words" by The Christians
French SNEP number-one single
26 May 1990 – 9 June 1990 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Bo le lavabo (WC Kiss)" by Lagaf'
Preceded by
"Vogue" by Madonna
Eurochart Hot 100 number-one single
16 June 1990 – 28 July 1990 (7 weeks)
Succeeded by
"U Can't Touch This" by MC Hammer
Preceded by
"World In Motion" by Englandneworder
UK number-one single
17 June 1990 – 21 July 1990 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Turtle Power" by Partners in Kryme


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  6. ^ German Singles Chart (Retrieved 9 September 2008)
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  11. ^ * Zimbabwe. Kimberley, C. Zimbabwe: singles chart book. Harare: C. Kimberley, 2000
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  13. ^ "Single top 100 over 1990" (pdf) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  14. ^ Music Week Year-end Charts, pub. January 1991
  15. ^ "French certifications, database" (in French). infodisc. Retrieved 9 September 2008. 
  16. ^ "UK certifications, database". Bpi. Retrieved 9 September 2008. 

External links[edit]