Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting
|"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||July 16, 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 #7 hit record in the singer's native 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. In particular this was the fist fights happening 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 later covered it in 1991). The song is a complete departure from his past renown as a mellow singer/songwriter.
This song was the only one 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 the sound of the Jamaican recording of "Saturday" as sounding like "it had been recorded on the worst transistor radio". This experience prompted the band to return to France to finish the album.
It 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 at the time, and to a large extent before and since, was to either record the piano first or play along with the band. "Saturday Night ... " represented a departure from that process.) 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 great "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 (see 1973 in music) as the album's first single. The song 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 #7, and stayed in the charts for 9 weeks.
In the U.S., the song entered the Billboard Top 40 the week of 11 August 1973, rose to #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.
Cover versions and other uses
The rock band Queen first performed the song in 1977 and played it at more than a dozen concerts after that.
In 1991, The Who covered it for the album Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin, also incorporating a segment of "Take Me to the Pilot"; a year later, both John and The Who's lead singer Roger Daltrey would perform at the tribute concert for Queen's lead singer Freddie Mercury.
In 2003 it was also performed by Nickelback (featuring Kid Rock and Dimebag Darrell) and included in the soundtrack for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle as well as certain copies of The Long Road and as the B-side of their CD single, "Gotta Be Somebody". The song was also covered by Paul Burnley on the album Paul Burnley is the Real Public Enemy.
It is also used by the U.S. cable network Showtime as introduction music for its Showtime Championship Boxing series (as the series airs on the first Saturday of each month). An edited version of the song is used at the end of the opening tease for the CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, as that series airs on Saturday nights. It was also used as the theme song for TBS's Saturday Night College Football. In the show's open, the song was accompanied by a drumline and cymbalists, while clips of the two teams playing the night's featured game were interspersed throughout.
In film, the track appears under the main title sequence of the 1985 movie Fandango, directed by Kevin Reynolds, starring Kevin Costner, Suzy Amis, Sam Robards and Judd Nelson, which was produced through Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment company and released by Warner Brothers. The song also plays during the opening of the 2010 UK film Cemetery Junction.
Louisiana State University plays a mash-up version of the song beginning with Elton John's original and ending with Nickelback's rendition at the beginning of every home football game, with highlights from yesteryear played on the big screens in the stadium during the Elton John portion and new highlights shown during the Nickelback part.
American Idol season 10 contestant James Durbin performed this song while in the second (due to the season's one save) top 11 competition round.
In 1996, Australian band New Waver covered it on their cassette album Mr Loser-Boozer Goes to Town as track 10. It was then re–released in an edited and remastered version on their best of album Neuters.
American rock band Fall Out Boy recorded a cover of the song in 2013, it was set to be included in the fortieth anniversary re-release edition of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road on March 25, 2014 along with other covers of John's songs by different artists.
The opening riff is frequently used by Tommy Emmanuel as a rock breakout when playing his interpretation of "Classical Gas". The song (with extended ending) is a playable track in the music video games Rock Band 3 and Guitar Hero 5, as well as a song featured in one of the radio stations in Grand Theft Auto V.
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
- "Aston Arms Pub". On This Very Spot. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 2007-11-12.
- Classic Rock Gold (liner notes).
- "Elton John Tour Statistics". Setlist.fm. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- "OSU v Texas Tease". YouTube.
- Steffen Hung. "Star Academy 3 - Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting". Lescharts.com. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
- "Elton John Classic 'Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road' Gets 40th Anniversary Reissue This Week". The Inquisitr News.