Elton John’s 12 Best Lyrics

In Elton John’s 75 years, more than 50 of them have been spent writing some of the most memorable songs in pop and rock from “Tiny Dancer,” ‘Rocket Man,” “Good Bye Yellow Brick Road,” “Your Song,” “Candle In The Wind,” “Don’t Go On Breaking My Heart,” “Don’t Let The Sun Goes Down On Me,” “Sacrifice,” “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” and beyond—mostly written with his longtime co-writer and collaborator Bernie Taubin.

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Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight in the town of Pinner, Middlesex, England on March 25, 1947, John was a precocious musician from his earliest years—even teaching himself how to play piano at the age of 4—before performing hits by Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Little Richard and more at family functions by the age of 7. When John was only 11, he enrolled in the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London where he studied for six years before going out to make his own music before he was even 18.

Starting out by playing piano in clubs and working with other artists, and in and out of bands, John first met the poet and lyricist Taupin in the late 1960s. The duo first started working in the late ’60s with John’s debut Empty Sky in 1969 and John’s self-titled album in 1970 with classic “Your Song” and continued on to 1971 Madman Across the Water and mega-hit “Tiny Dancer.”

John loved playing piano, but once admitted that he preferred writing over singing. “When I started I didn’t even want to sing,” said John. “I wanted to write songs and sit back and wait for the profits. Later I realized that it was not as lucrative as I thought and that you had to work a lot to earn a little money.”

Photo: UMe

Throughout the 1970s, John released hit after hit and soon became as known for his chart-topping songs as he was for his over-the-top costumes and glasses. “I wasn’t a sex symbol like [David] Bowie, Marc Bolan or Freddie Mercury, so I dressed more on the humorous side,” said John, “because if I was going to be stuck at the piano for two hours, I was going to make people look at me.”

Collaborating with everyone from Ringo Starr, Bolan, Stevie Wonder, Stevie Nicks, Luciano Pavorotti, Ozzy Osbourne, George Michael, and dozens of artists across genres throughout his career, one highlight was working with John Lennon on 1974 “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night,” off Lennon’s fifth album Walls and Bridges. The pairing would lead to Lennon’s last major performance, when he appeared on stage during one of John’s shows at Madison Square Garden to perform the song with him on Thanksgiving Day, 1974.

Always prevalent and relevant, in 2021 John remixed his hit “Cold Heart” with Dua Lipa and released the holiday song “Merry Christmas” with Ed Sheeran along with The Lockdown Sessions, recorded during the pandemic, with featured artists like Eddie Vedder, Lil Nas X, Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus, and more.

“New music is where the future is,” said John in a 2021 interview when asked why he enjoyed working with new artists. “There’s a lot of nonsense, but there’s a lot of great stuff as well, which doesn’t sometimes see the light of day. So I try and give it the biggest boost as I can, and I love it.”

Now more than five decades in, John has sold more than 300 million records, won five Grammy Awards, five Brit Awards, a Golden Globe, a Tony for the Broadway hit Billy Elliot, and an Oscar for the song “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” from the movie Lion King. In 1994, John was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and later knighted “Sir” in 1998.

“Everything excites me, just, you know the life I’ve had, the career I’ve had, the family I’ve got,” said John. “Every day is a bonus. I’m sober. I’m clean, and I can appreciate life on life’s terms.”

Below is a mere snapshot of John’s best lyrics and choruses spanning his more than 50-year career.

Tiny Dancer” (1971)

Blue-jean baby
L.A. Lady
Seamstress for the band
Pirate smile
You’ll marry a music man

You must have seen her
Dancing in the sand
Now she’s in me
Always with me
Tiny dancer in my hand

“Your Song” (1971)

It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside
I’m not one of those who can easily hide
I don’t have much money, but, boy, if I did
I’d buy a big house where we both could live

If I was a sculptor, heh, but then again, no
Or a man who makes potions in a traveling show
I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I can do
My gift is my song, and this one’s for you

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple, but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world

Rocket Man” (1973)

Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it’s cold as hell
And there’s no one there to raise them
If you did

And all this science
I don’t understand
It’s just my job five days a week
A rocket man
A rocket man

And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time
‘Til touchdown brings me ’round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh, no, no, no
I’m a rocket man
Rocket man, burning out his fuse up here alone

“Candle in the Wind” (1973)

Goodbye, Norma Jeane
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to hold yourself
While those around you crawled
They crawled out of the woodwork
And they whispered into your brain
They set you on the treadmill
And they made you change your name 

And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in
And I would’ve liked to know you 
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did

“Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Part” (1976)

What have I gotta do to make you love me?
What have I gotta do to make you care?
What do I do when lightning strikes me?
And I wake up and find that you’re not there

What’ve I gotta do to make you want me?
Mmm hmm, what’ve I gotta do to be heard?
What do I say when it’s all over?
And sorry seems to be a hardest word

“I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blue” (1983)

… And I guess that’s why they call it the blues
Time on my hands should be time spent with you
Laughing like children, living like lovers
Rolling like thunder under the covers
And I guess that’s why they call it the blues

“I’m Still Standing” (1983)

You could never know what it’s like
Your blood like winter freezes just like ice
And there’s a cold lonely light that shines from you
You’ll wind up like the wreck you hide behind that mask you use

And did you think this fool could never win?
Well look at me, I’m coming back again
I got a taste of love in a simple way
And if you need to know while I’m still standing you just fade away

Don’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
I’m still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

“Sad Songs (Say So Much)” (1984)

If someone else is suffering enough oh to write it down
When every single word makes sense
Then it’s easier to have those songs around
The kick inside is in the line that finally gets to you
And it feels so good to hurt so bad
And suffer just enough to sing the blues

So turn ’em on, turn ’em on
Turn on those sad songs
When all hope is gone
Why don’t you tune in and turn them on

“Sacrifice” (1989)

It’s a human sign
When things go wrong
When the scent of her lingers
And temptation’s strong

Into the boundary
Of each married man
Sweet deceit comes calling
And negativity lands

Cold cold heart
Hard done by you
Some things look better, baby
Just passing through

And it’s no sacrifice
Just a simple word
It’s two hearts living
In two separate worlds
But it’s no sacrifice
No sacrifice
It’s no sacrifice at all

“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (1995)
*Originally written and released in 1974, re-released featuring George Michael in 1995

Don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free
But losin’ everything is like the sun goin’ down on me

“I Want Love” (2001)

I want love, but it’s impossible
A man like me, so irresponsible
A man like me is dead in places
Other men feel liberatedI can’t love, shot full of holes
Don’t feel nothing, I just feel cold
Don’t feel nothing, just old scars
Toughening up around my heart

But I want love, just a different kind
I want love, won’t break me down
Won’t brick me up, won’t fence me in
I want a love, that don’t mean a thing
That’s the love I want, I want love

“Electricity” (2004)

I can’t really explain it
I haven’t got the words
It’s a feeling that you can’t control
I suppose its like forgetting
Losing who you are
And at the same time
Something makes you whole
Its like that there’s a music
Playing in your ear
And I’m listening, and I’m listening
And then I disappear

…It’s a bit like being angry
It’s a bit like being scared
Confused and all mixed up
And mad as hell
It’s like when you’ve been crying
And you’re empty, and you’re full
I don’t know what it is
It’s hard to tell

Check out Elton John’s Top 10 Duets HERE.

Photo: Greg Gorman / UMe

One Comment

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  1. Your article barely mentions Bernie Taupin. The title of your article, the wording within,
    and the lack of attribution with the included lyrics could easily lead someone to believe Elton wrote those lyrics. He didn’t write any of those lyrics. Bernie Taupin wrote them all, and your article should reflect that. I respect Elton’s immense talent but give Bernie credit where credit is due.

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