The Bitch Is Back
|"The Bitch Is Back"|
|Single by Elton John|
|from the album Caribou|
|Released||3 September 1974|
|Format||Vinyl record (7")|
|Recorded||Caribou Ranch, January 1974|
|Label||MCA, DJM, Rocket/Phonogram|
|Songwriter(s)||Elton John, Bernie Taupin|
|Elton John singles chronology|
"The Bitch Is Back" is a rock song by Elton John, written with his longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin. It was the second single released from his 1974 album Caribou, and reached number 1 in Canada (his sixth in that country), number 4 in the United States and number 15 in the United Kingdom. With lyrics parodying John's celebrity lifestyle, the song has been identified as one of his best hard rock cuts. In the U.S., it was certified Gold on 13 September 1995 by the Recording Industry Association of America.
The idea to create the song was inspired not by John or Taupin directly, but rather by Bernie Taupin's wife at the time, Maxine Feibelman, who would say, "The bitch is back," when John was in a bad mood. Taupin then wrote the lyrics. Later, Elton would comment: "It is kind of my theme song." Musically, the song originally was written in A-flat major, but is today performed live a half step lower in the key of G major. The saxophone solo in the middle is nowadays usually performed by synthesizers, while a guitar solo occasionally substitutes, as can be seen in the concert video Live in Australia.
Several radio stations in the United States and elsewhere refused to play the song because of the word "bitch". For example, in 1976, the program director of WPIX-FM in New York told Billboard, "We will play records that are borderline suggestive records such as 'Disco Lady' by Johnny [sic] Taylor but we will not play 'The Bitch Is Back' by Elton John. We won't play those types of records no matter how popular they get." Elton responded to the controversy, quipping "...some radio stations in America are more puritanical than others."
Producer Gus Dudgeon added a live version of it, recorded on Thanksgiving night 1974 at Madison Square Garden, at the close of the There disc on the reissued two-CD version of Here and There. John Lennon is featured on tambourine. It is a concert staple for John, who loves to play the song live to this day, often as his opening number. A mixed media presentation of it, with a video cameo from Pamela Anderson, was created for part of John's very successful Red Piano show in Las Vegas.
The song was twice recorded by Tina Turner, once for her Rough album in 1978, and again for the John/Taupin tribute album Two Rooms in 1991. Turner also performed the song in her live show in the late 1970s, and with John at the 1995 VH1 Fashion and Music Awards 1995 and VH1 Divas Live '99. For her rendition Turner earned a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Performance.
Dusty Springfield is one of the backing vocalists on the studio version of the song.
On the television show Glee, a mash-up of The Bitch is Back and Dress You Up (by Madonna) was performed by characters Ryder Lynn (Blake Jenner) and Unique Adams (Alex Newell) in season 4, episode 16, which aired on March 11, 2013.
Miley Cyrus covered the song in a country music style for the 2018 tribute album Restoration: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
- Ray Cooper – tambourine
- Davey Johnstone – electric guitars
- Elton John – piano, vocals
- Clydie King – backing vocals
- Sherlie Matthews – backing vocals
- Dee Murray – bass, phased Pignose bass
- Nigel Olsson – drums
- Lenny Pickett – tenor sax solo
- Jessie Mae Smith – backing vocals
- Dusty Springfield – backing vocals
- Simpson, Dave (13 September 2018). "Elton John's 50 greatest songs – ranked!". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Caribou - Elton John | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
'The Bitch Is Back' is one of his best hard rock cuts...
- Kirkl, Justin (29 May 2019). "Neither 'Rocket Man' Nor 'Tiny Dancer' Is Elton John's Best Song". Esquire. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
- "RPM Top Singles". RPM. 22 (11): 9. 2 November 1074. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
- Guinness British Hit Singles, Fifth Edition, GRRR Books Ltd. and Guinness Superlatives Ltd., 1985, ISBN 0-85112-429-1, p. 115.
- "Gold & Platinum - RIAA: Elton John". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
- Rosenthal, Elizabeth J. (2001). His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John. New York: Billboard Books. p. 83. ISBN 0-823088-93-6.
- "The Bitch Is Back by Elton John". SongFacts.
- Williams, Jean (25 December 1976). "Sex-Oriented Lyrics, Titles Stir a Storm". Billboard. p. 19. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
- Heller, Jason (24 July 2012). "How Elton John's "The Bitch Is Back" said a lot without specifying anything". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
- "Elton John Concert Setlist at FedExForum, Memphis on March 16, 2013 - setlist.fm". setlist.fm.
- "American single certifications – Elton John – The Bitch Is Back". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.