Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting
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|"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting"|
|Single by Elton John|
|from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road|
"Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again)"
|Released||16 July 1973|
|Format||Vinyl record (7")|
|Recorded||May 1973 at Château d'Hérouville, France|
|Length||4:57 (album version)
4:12 (single version)
|Elton John singles chronology|
|Goodbye Yellow Brick Road track listing|
"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" (sometimes written "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)") is a song originally recorded by British musician Elton John. John composed it with his long-time song-writing partner Bernie Taupin. It was released on John's 1973 studio album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and as the first single. The song is one of John's most critically and commercially successful singles, a No. 7 hit record in the United Kingdom. It has been covered by W.A.S.P., Flotsam and Jetsam, Nickelback (with Kid Rock and Dimebag Darrell), Queen, The Who, Fall Out Boy, and several others.
Background and inspiration
"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" is a lively throwback to early rock and roll with a glam edge. The lyrics discuss a night out in town in which the narrator plans to "get about as oiled as a diesel train". Taupin has said that the song was meant to be an American rock and roll song set in Britain. It was inspired by his raucous teenage days and in particular, the fistfights in his local pub, the Aston Arms in Market Rasen.
Composition and recording
The song, which showcases the guitar playing of Davey Johnstone, with lyrics by Bernie Taupin and music by John, is written in the key of G major alternating with C major on the chorus. It is one of John's harder-rocking songs (similar to "Grow Some Funk of Your Own" and "The Bitch Is Back"), with a sound echoing bands such as The Who and The Rolling Stones (The Who covered it in 1991). The song is a complete departure from his past renown as a mellow singer/songwriter.
It was the only song recorded during Elton and the band's time in Jamaica, where they had initially planned to record the album, but was never used due to the poor quality of the recording equipment. John described it as sounding like "it had been recorded on the worst transistor radio". The experience prompted the band to return to France to finish the album.
"Saturday" is one of the most aggressive and lively rock inspired tracks ever recorded by the performer. It features energetic, rapid-fire piano playing reminiscent of Jerry Lee Lewis. The song was one of the few John-Taupin songs that Elton said was not a "typical piano number". According to John's recollection in Elizabeth Rosenthal's His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John, it may have been written on the piano at first, but the song ended up being recorded somewhat in reverse to the normal way he records, with the band putting their tracks down, and Elton overdubbing his piano afterward. (John's typical process was to either record the piano first or play along with the band.) Elton called the song "hard to record".
Apart from his lyrical contributions, in the Eagle Vision documentary, Classic Albums: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Taupin said that a lot of the power of the song comes from the chords, adding it also features what he called one of the greatest "strident, blistering guitar chords ever created" in rock and roll.
Release, chart and live performance
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The song was released in 1973 as the album's first single. It was banned on many radio stations fearing that the title would incite violence.
In the UK, the song entered the Music Week Top 50 the week of 7 July 1973, rose to No. 7, and stayed in the charts for 9 weeks.
In the US, the song entered the Billboard Top 40 the week of 11 August 1973, rose to No. 12, and stayed in the Top 40 for nine weeks. It was the only single by Elton John that failed to make the Top 10 in the three-year, 13-hit period between May 1972 ("Rocket Man") and October 1975 ("Island Girl"). It was the only Elton John single that failed to go gold or platinum in the three-year, 11-hit period between December 1972 ("Crocodile Rock") and October 1975 ("Island Girl").
Despite only being a modest success compared to his other hits, it remains one of his best-known songs.
|UK Singles Chart||7|
|US Billboard Hot 100||12|
The song has been a staple of the artist's live performances for many years, being played more than 1,300 times live (making it one of John's top ten most performed tracks in his entire discography) as of December 2015.
All songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
- "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" - 4:12
- "Jack Rabbit" - 1:50
- "Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again)" - 2:50
- Elton John – piano, vocals
- Davey Johnstone – electric guitars
- Dee Murray – bass
- Nigel Olsson – drums