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"
Released7 February 1972 (1972-02-07)
Recorded9 August 1971
StudioTrident Studios, London
GenreSoft rock, pop
Producer(s)Gus Dudgeon
Elton John singles chronology
"Tiny Dancer"
"Rocket Man"
Music video
"Tiny Dancer" on YouTube

"Tiny Dancer" is a song written by English musician Elton John and songwriter Bernie Taupin, and performed by John. It was originally released on John's 1971 album Madman Across the Water, and was later released as a single in 1972. It was ranked No. 47 on the 2021 list of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[1]

In the United States, it was certified gold on 19 May 2005, platinum on 19 August 2011 and 3× platinum on 26 April 2018 by the Recording Industry Association of America.[2] In the UK, "Tiny Dancer" was certified gold on 17 August 2018 by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for sales of 400,000 copies. On 2 August 2019 it was certified platinum for sales of 600,000 and on 24 December 2021 it was certified 2× Platinum for sales of 1,200,000, despite never being released as an official single there.

Background and writing[edit]

With lyrics written by Bernie Taupin, the song was first featured as the opening track to John's 1971 album, Madman Across the Water. The song's lyrics were inspired by Taupin's first visit to the US in 1970, and were intended to capture the spirit of California, where he found the women he met highly contrasted with those who he had known in his home country of England.[3][4][5][6] Taupin also stated in a 1973 interview in Rolling Stone that the song is about Maxine Feibelman, his wife at the time.[7] In 2019, Feibelman said, "I knew [the song] was about me. I had been into ballet as a little girl and sewed patches on Elton's jackets and jeans",[8] referring to the song's description of a "seamstress for the band".


The song features piano-based accompaniment during verses. The arrangement start features pedal steel guitar played by English guitarist BJ Cole, light percussion, Paul Buckmaster's strings and a quiet choir. Back-up vocals are provided by Tony Burrows, among others.[9]

Due to the song's lengthy run time of 6:12 minutes,[3] "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.[10] Some radio edits ended the song following the first chorus, because the first verse repeats. Some radio stations banned the song, due to the controversial opening lines of the second verse: "Jesus Freaks/ Out in the Streets". 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. The song also received a boost of popularity after having been prominently featured in the 2000 film Almost Famous.[3] The song was also featured in the 1975 film Aloha, Bobby and Rose.

In 1971, Elton 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.[11]

In 2010, Rolling Stone ranked the song number 397 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[1]

The song was played at Donald Trump rallies in 2015 and 2016 which Elton John was not pleased with.[12]

Live performances[edit]

Since 1971, John regularly performed this song alongside "Levon" on his concert tours in various decades.[13]

An orchestral live version of the song was performed by John with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on December 14, 1986 at the Sydney Entertainment Centre during the final concert of his 1986 Tour De Force tour in Australia and that performance was included on his 1987 live album Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Music video[edit]

In May 2017, an official music video for "Tiny Dancer" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival as a winner of Elton John: The Cut, a competition organized in partnership with AKQA, Pulse Films, and YouTube in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of his songwriting relationship with Bernie Taupin. The competition called upon independent filmmakers to submit treatments for music videos for one of three Elton John songs from the 1970s, with each song falling within a specific concept category. "Tiny Dancer" was designated for the live-action category, with the competition won by Max Weiland. The video was filmed in Los Angeles, and features scenes of various residents driving around the city,[14][15] including performer Marilyn Manson and Iris Karina.[16]


Chart (1972) Peak
Australia 13
Canadian RPM Top Singles[17] 19
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary[18] 20
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[19] 41
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary[20] 35
U.S. Cash Box Top 100[21] 29
Chart (2015) Peak
UK Official Charts Company[22] 70
Chart (2019) Peak
US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs (Billboard)[23] 6

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[24] 7× Platinum 490,000double-dagger
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[25] Gold 45,000double-dagger
Italy (FIMI)[26] Gold 35,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[27] 2× Platinum 1,200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[28] 3× Platinum 3,000,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.



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.[29]

In 1990, John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed his first impromptu performance of the song for the audience of Pinkpop that year.[30]

A version featuring Mary Black, Paddy Casey and Declan O'Rourke was recorded in Galway, Ireland in 2012 as a charity single. This version reached number one on the Irish Singles Chart.[31][32]

In season 3 episode 1 of Friends "The One with the Princess Leia Fantasy", when discussing the most romantic songs, Lisa Kudrow's character Phoebe says that her favorite, the song Tiny Dancer, was in fact written for Tony Danza which she tries to prove by singing the line "Hold me close, young Tony Danza". After a Friends: The Reunion episode Courteney Cox invited Elton John, Ed Sheeran and Brandi Carlile to pay a short tribute to Lisa's character once famously misquoting the song.[33]

Tim McGraw covered the song for his 2002 album Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors.


  1. ^ a b "Tiny Dancer #47". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
  2. ^ "Gold & Platinum - RIAA: Elton John". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Readers' Poll: Best Elton John Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. 28 November 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  4. ^ Singh, Anvita (25 March 2018). "Why Elton John's Tiny Dancer's oft-misread lyrics doesn't stop it from being a favourite". The Indian Express. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  5. ^ "Bernie Taupin :: Discography". berniejtaupin.com. Archived from the original on 21 December 2010.
  6. ^ "Tiny Dancer by Elton John". Songfacts. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  7. ^ Gambaccini, Paul (16 August 1973). "Elton John: The Rolling Stone Interview He and Bernie Taupin talk about the ups, downs and in-betweens". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  8. ^ Kaplan, Michael (7 December 2019). "'I knew it was about me': Maxine Taupin talks 'Tiny Dancer,' other Elton John hits". New York Post. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  9. ^ Tony Burrows: A Six-Time One-Hit Wonder
  10. ^ "Behind the Song: "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John". 4 October 2019.
  11. ^ The Old Grey Whistle Test (DVD). Warner Home Video. 2003.
  12. ^ "Opinion | Can Donald Trump always get what he wants? Rock icons hope not".
  13. ^ "Tiny Dancer by Elton John Song Statistics | setlist.fm". www.setlist.fm. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  14. ^ "WATCH: Elton John and Bernie Taupin's 'Tiny Dancer,' 'Rocket Man' and 'Bennie and the Jets' Just Got New Music Videos". People.com. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  15. ^ "Elton John Premieres Three Music Videos for His '70s Classics". Out Magazine. 25 May 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  16. ^ "Behind the Scenes of the New 'Tiny Dancer' Video". EltonJohn.com.
  17. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 16 February 2016.
  18. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 16 February 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  19. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2013). Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles, 14th Edition: 1955-2012. Record Research. p. 436.
  20. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 122.
  21. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 4/08/72". tropicalglen.com. Archived from the original on 26 May 2018. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  22. ^ "Elton John | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  23. ^ "Elton John Chart History (Hot Rock & Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved April 18, 2021.
  24. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2020 Singles" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  25. ^ "Danish single certifications – Elton John – Tiny Dancer". IFPI Danmark. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  26. ^ "Italian single certifications – Elton John – Tiny Dancer" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 29 November 2021. Select "2021" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Tiny Dancer" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
  27. ^ "British single certifications – Elton John – Tiny Dancer". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  28. ^ "American single certifications – Elton John – Tiny Dancer". Recording Industry Association of America.
  29. ^ McAlpine, Fraser (24 April 2009). "DJ Ironik ft. Chipmunk & Elton John - 'Tiny Dancer'". BBC Online. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  30. ^ John Frusciante - Tiny Dancer (HD) Pinkpop 1990, archived from the original on 13 December 2021, retrieved 13 June 2021
  31. ^ "Video: Elton heads galaxy of stars backing Lily-Mae's cancer fight". Independent.ie. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  32. ^ "Tiny Dancer - A Song for Lily-Mae" Archived 27 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine, November 2012
  33. ^ Percival, Ash (7 June 2021). "Lisa Kudrow Spots A Flaw As Courteney Cox Leads Star-Studded Rendition Of Friends Musical Gag". HUFFPOST. Retrieved 8 June 2021.

External links[edit]