Teacher I Need You

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"Teacher I Need You"
Song by Elton John
from the album Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player
Released 22 January 1973 (UK)
26 January 1973 (USA)
Recorded 1972
Genre Rock
Length 4:10
Label DJM Records
MCA Records (US/Canada-1975)
Songwriter(s) Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Producer(s) Gus Dudgeon
Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player track listing
"Teacher I Need You"
"Elderberry Wine"

"Teacher I Need You" is a song written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin that was first released on John's 1973 album Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player. The lyrics tell of a schoolboy's crush on his teacher, and the music evokes the sound of 1950s songs. Although never released as a single, the song was popular on album-oriented rock radio stations. It was included in John's live concert sets on a number of tours, including 1973, 1982 and 1984. Artists who have covered the song include Richard Marx and Stephen Cummings.

Lyrics and music[edit]

The lyrics, by Taupin, describe a schoolboy's sexual desire for his female teacher.[1][2][3] Allmusic critic Donald A. Guarisco notes that the "witty, insightful" lyrics maintain the listener's interest by "packing it with details that vividly bring the boy’s hormonal crush to life," such as the lines:[1]

It’s a natural achievement
Conquering my homework
With her image pounding in my brain

Guarisco also praises the way the lyrics portray the boy's "believable frustration" over his predicament.[1] Like a number of other songs written by Taupin and John, the lyrics make references to American movie stars, in this case John Wayne and Errol Flynn.[4] The singer notes that he imitates Wayne and Flynn but unfortunately for him "it doesn’t mean a doggone thing."[1]

The song has been described as a "retro rocker" and its sound evokes the music of the 1950s and early 1960s.[5][6] Elton John has stated that his vocal performance on the song was inspired by Bobby Vee, a teen idol in the 1950s and 1960s.[2][6][7] John biographer Elizabeth J. Rosenthal describes the song as "a merry uptempo number" and praises its "gleaming harmonies."[6] The song begins with a series of triplets played on the piano, a musical motif John often uses.[2] Guarisco describes the melody of the song as "a rollicking pop melody" that employs syncopation.[1] John's piano playing with fast chord changes is reminiscent of Jerry Lee Lewis.[5][6] Instrumentation on the song also includes a mellotron.[1]


Although never released as a single, "Teacher I Need You" was popular on album-oriented rock radio stations.[8] Rolling Stone critic Stephen Holden noted that the song has "the same off-the-cuff buoyancy as "Crocodile Rock" and the same playful attitude toward a semi-mythic past."[9] Allmusic's Guarisco described "Teacher I Need You" as "one of the undisputable highlights of Don’t Shoot Me I’m The Piano Player thanks to its tidy marriage of clever lyrics and melodic craftsmanship.".[1] Mary Anne Cassata describes it as an "overlooked gem."[5] Singer Kyle Vincent stated that the song could stand up against "just about any great power pop song."[10]

Other appearances[edit]

Elton John played "Teacher I Need You" live in concert on a number of tours, including 1973, 1982 and 1984.[8][11] Subsequent to its initial release on Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player, "Teacher I Need You" was released on Elton John compilation albums in the UK, including Candle in the Wind in 1978 and The Collection in 1989.[6] The song has been covered by Richard Marx and Stephen Cummings.[8][12] Cummings' version was used in the 1993 Australian film The Heartbreak Kid.[12][13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Guarisco, D.A. "Teacher I Need You". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Buckley, D. (2007). Elton: The Biography. Chicago Review Press. p. 147. ISBN 9781556527135. 
  3. ^ Fisher, R., Harris, A. & Jarvis, C. (2008). Education in popular culture: telling tales on teachers and learners. Routledge. p. 102. ISBN 9781134320646. 
  4. ^ Curtis, J.M. (1987). Rock eras: interpretations of music and society, 1954–1984. Popular Press. pp. 254–255. ISBN 9780879723699. 
  5. ^ a b c Cassata, M.A. (2002). The Elton John Scrapbook. Citadel. p. 96. ISBN 9780806523224. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Rosenthal, E.J. (2001). His song: the musical journey of Elton John. Random House. pp. 53–54, 514, 516, 520. ISBN 9780823088935. 
  7. ^ Tobler, J. (1995). Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player (CD). Elton John. 
  8. ^ a b c Bernardin, C. & Stanton, T. (1996). Rocket man: Elton John from A-Z. Greenwood Publishing. pp. 122, 154, 158–159, 203. ISBN 9780275956981. 
  9. ^ Holden, S. (15 March 1973). "Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player". Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Borack, J.M. (2007). Shake some action: the ultimate power pop guide. Not Lame Recording Company. p. 180. ISBN 9780979771408. 
  11. ^ Molloy, S. (18 March 1982). "Elton Still Does a Crocodile Rock". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 5. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  12. ^ a b Coyle, R. (2005). Reel tracks: Australian feature film music and cultural identities. Indiana University Press. p. 82. ISBN 9780861966585. 
  13. ^ "The Heartbreak Kid soundtrack". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 

External links[edit]