Tiny Dancer

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"Tiny Dancer"
Elton John Tiny Dancer.jpg
Single by Elton John
from the album Madman Across the Water
B-side "Razor Face"
Released 7 February 1972 (1972-02-07)
Format 7-inch single
Recorded 9 August 1971
Genre Pop[1]
Length 6:12
Label Uni
Producer(s) Gus Dudgeon
ISWC T-070.183.697-6
Elton John singles chronology
"Tiny Dancer"
"Rocket Man"
Music sample
"Tiny Dancer"
Single by Ben Folds
from the album Ben Folds Live
Released 2002
Length 3:16 (single version)
5:23 (album version)
Label Epic
Ben Folds singles chronology
"Still Fighting It"
"Tiny Dancer"
"Bizarre Christmas Incident"
"Tiny Dancer"
TimMcGraw - Tiny Dancer.jpg
Single by Tim McGraw
from the album Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors
Released December 30, 2002
Format CD single
Genre Country
Length 5:09
Label Curb
Tim McGraw singles chronology
"Red Rag Top"
"Tiny Dancer"
"She's My Kind of Rain"

"Tiny Dancer" is a 1971 song by Elton John with lyrics by Bernie Taupin. It appears on John's fourth album, Madman Across the Water, and was released as a single in 1972. In the U.S. it was certified Gold on 19 May 2005, and Platinum on 19 August 2011 by the Recording Industry Association of America.[2] In the UK, "Tiny Dancer" has been certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for sales of 200,000 copies, despite never being released as an official single.[3]

Background and writing[edit]

The song's lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin to capture the spirit of California in 1970 encapsulated by the many beautiful women he met there. The song was dedicated to Maxine Feibelman, Taupin's first wife on the album Madman Across the Water.[4][5]


The song features a piano-based melody during verses and an arrangement that at the start features pedal steel guitar and light percussion but, transitioning subtly halfway through one of the choruses, by the end is driven by Paul Buckmaster's dynamic strings, along with a barely heard backing choir.

Due to the song lacking a hook, "Tiny Dancer" was initially a non-starter as a single in the US, reaching only #41 on the U.S. pop chart, and was not even released as a single in the UK. The song fared better in Canada, where John had much of his early commercial breakthrough success, peaking at #19. It was also a hit in Australia, peaking at #13. Eventually, the song slowly became one of John's most popular songs even in the territories that initially failed to embrace it, and the full-length version is now a fixture on North American, UK and Australian adult contemporary and rock radio stations.

It was ranked No. 397 on the 2010 List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[6]


Chart (1972) Peak
Australia 13
Canadian RPM[7] 19
Canadian Adult Contemporary[8] 20
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 41
U.S. Cash Box Top 100 29

Other versions[edit]

"Tiny Dancer" has been covered by Lani Hall in the 1970s, by the Red Hot Chili Peppers with John Frusciante on vocals since the early 1990s, by Dave Grohl on The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn.[9][10][11]

In 2002, Ben Folds covered "Tiny Dancer" for his live album, Ben Folds Live. The song was later released as a promo single.

Country music artist Tim McGraw covered the song on his 2002 album Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors. McGraw also performed the song, with Elton John, at the American Music Awards.

In 2008, a version was released by Italian DJ Marco DeMark and singer Casey Barnes. It was later remixed by Deadmau5 & Moto Blanco.

In 2009, DJ Ironik and Chipmunk created a remix of the song, featuring John singing the chorus, which peaked at No.3 in the UK Singles Chart.

A sample of the "Tiny Dancer" chorus is featured in a mash-up by Girl Talk called "Smash Your Head" (from the 2006 album Night Ripper).

A version featuring Mary Black, Paddy Casey and Declan O'Rourke was recorded in Galway, Ireland in 2012 as a charity single.[12][13]

In popular culture[edit]

In 1971, John performed the song on the first series of The Old Grey Whistle Test. The performance has been released as part of The Old Grey Whistle Test - Volumes 1-3 Box Set.[14]

It is referenced in Rihanna's 2006 single "SOS", as she mentions the lyric "Just hold me close boy 'cause I'm your tiny dancer."

A reference to this song was made in sitcoms Friends and Will and Grace. In both shows, the same joke was used where Phoebe Buffay in the former and Grace Adler in the latter confuses the lyrics as "Hold me close, young Tony Danza" and "Hold me closer, Tony Danza", respectively. The same mistake was committed in Drop Dead Diva.

The song was featured in 1980 in "The Americanization of Ivan" episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. References to the song were made throughout the show, and was featured during the closing credits.

The cast of Almost Famous (2000) sings along to the song while riding in the tour bus. It is also featured as instrumental incidental music in a phonic reference to the character Penny Lane.

The first line of the 2000 Fuel song "Prove" mentions the lyric "Lay me down in sheets of linen".

The song was featured in a Budweiser TV commercial starring Peter Stormare and Andrew Sensenig that premiered during Fox Broadcasting's telecast of Super Bowl XLV on 6 February 2011.[15]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt performed the song in a lip-syncing competition against Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Merchant on Fallon's Late Night show.[16]

In the season 2 episode of The Office called "The Dundies," Michael Scott sings the song but changes the words to "You have won a tiny Dundie," an office award, before bar patrons mock him, calling out "Sing it, Elton!" Later the "Tiny Dancer" chorus plays over the final scene as Jim Halpert watches Pam Beesly and Angela Martin drive away.

A brief parody version of the song was broadcast on Saturday Night Live (Season 39, Episode 17, 5 April 2014), in which Kate McKinnon appeared as Angela Merkel and sang, to the tune of "Tiny Dancer," "Hold me closer, German Chancellor"[17]

Beginning in April 2015 the Bennington radio show on Sirius XM began using Tiny Dancer as their ending theme song.

The UK based department store chain John Lewis, use the song on their August 2015 insurance advert.[18]

Tiny Dancer is the name of a recurring villain in the PBS children's program Odd Squad.

Donald Trump has used the song during his 2016 presidential rallies as his entrance and exit song.[19]

In his 2017 single, "Castle on the Hill", Ed Sheeran references the song.[20]


  1. ^ Janovitz, Bill. "Tiny Dancer" at AllMusic. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Gold & Platinum - RIAA: Elton John". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved July 1, 2016. 
  3. ^ Jones, Alan (28 August 2015). "Official Charts Analysis: Jess Glynne follows singles success with No.1 album". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 29 August 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ "Bernie Taupin :: Discography". berniejtaupin.com. 
  5. ^ "Tiny Dancer by Elton John", 24 July 2012.
  6. ^ "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". 4 July 2011. Archived from the original on 29 April 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca. 
  8. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-07. 
  9. ^ "Lani Hall's Tiny Dancer cover of Elton John's Tiny Dancer", "[1]", 24 July 2012
  10. ^ "Red Hot Cilli Peppers - Tiny Dancer", 11 April 2008" on YouTube, 24 July 2012
  11. ^ "Dave Grohl - Tiny Dancer", "[2]", 24 July 2012
  12. ^ "Elton heads galaxy of stars backing Lily-Mae's cancer fight", November 2012
  13. ^ "Tiny Dancer - A Song for Lily-Mae", November 2012
  14. ^ The Old Grey Whistle Test (DVD). Warner Home Video. 2003. 
  15. ^ "Budweiser Elton John Tiny Dancer Peter Stormare Super Bowl XLV Commercial Ad 2011" on YouTube, 6 February 2011, 24 July 2012
  16. ^ "Lip Sync Battle with Joseph Gordon Levitt, Stephen Merchant and Jimmy Fallon" on YouTube, 24 September 2013
  17. ^ Kate McKinnon and Colin Jost (April 5, 2014). Weekend Update: Angela Merkel on being the Peace Keeper. NBC. Retrieved December 28, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Elton's 'Tiny Dancer' Used in Advert for John Lewis Home Insurance". The Official Site of Elton John. August 24, 2015. Retrieved July 4, 2016. 
  19. ^ Millward, David (April 27, 2016). "Trump wants Elton John to perform at his inauguration". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved June 16, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Ed Sheeran – Castle On The Hill". Genius. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 

External links[edit]