The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #165: Candle in the Wind by Sir Elton John (RS)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song and going until I reach Song . When you see the song title listed as something like: Song (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #165: Candle in the Wind by Elton John.

“Candle in the Wind” was written by Bernie Taupin, with Elton John supplying the musical score. The song was from Elton John’s biggest selling album ever….”Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, which also contained the hits, “Benny and the Jets”, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, along with “Candle in the Wind”. All four of those songs were Top Ten hits and helped to establish Elton John as a star, not just in England but, around the world. The album, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” sold over twenty million copies worldwide. *(For comparison sake, in the last post, I mentioned that the very successful duo of Hal & Oates sold twenty million copies of their albums for the entire career! Sir Elton John matched that with a single album!)

The song, “Candle in the Wind” tells the story of Marilyn Monroe but, having said that, it is not really about Marilyn Monroe at all. Let me explain. In interviews, Bernie Taupin has said that “Candle in the Wind” is about our tendency to mythologize celebrities; especially, those who die too soon, at the height of their fame. Taupin says that Marilyn Monroe may have been the subject of the song but, “Candle in the Wind” could just as easily have been about James Dean or Jim Morrison, as it was about Marilyn.

As most of you are aware, in 1997, Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin tweaked the lyrics to this song so that the subject of the song became Princess Diana or, “England’s Rose”, as they ended up calling her. Elton John performed the song at her funeral and is on record as stating that he was never more emotional or nervous while seated at his piano as he was that day. The updated version of “Candle in the Wind” was titled, “Candle in the Wind-97”. All proceeds from the sale of this song went to a charity established in Princess Diana’s name, called “The Princess’ Trust”. It is estimated that this song generated revenues of over $60 million dollars. The trust fund has since handed out all of its’ funds and is now closed. Consequently, a “gentleman’s agreement” has been reached between Elton John and broadcasters all over the world, to retire the memorial version of this song and revert to only playing the original, Marilyn Monroe-centric version of “Candle in the Wind”.

Needless to say, those who live in the public live a life that very few of us can imagine. It is not surprising to me that it took someone like Sir Elton John, who is also living life in the spotlight’s glare, to create a song that so accurately captures the essence of celebrity worship. It also, says a lot about Elton John and Bernie Taupin that they were drawn so easily toward Eminem when he released his song about celebrity obsession, “Stan”, (that I profiled in a much earlier post, here) and which Elton John sang with him on stage at the Grammy Awards, way back when. Whether your are a Marilyn Monroe, a Princess Diana or even, an Amy Winehouse, when the shiny ones die early, we grieve harder and longer. Our inability to let go and continue to move forward and to grow is what “Candle in the Wind” is really all about. Without further delay, here is the original version of “Candle in the Wind” by Sir Elton John. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Candle in the Wind” by Sir Elton John, can be found here.

The link to the video for the song, “Candle in the Wind-97”, by Sir Elton John can be found here.

The link to the official website for Sir Elton John, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.

Author: Tom MacInnes

Among the many characters I play: husband, father, son, retired elementary school teacher, writer, Cape Bretoner, lover of hot tea and, above all else, a gentleman. I strive to make a positive difference in the lives of others. In Life, I have chosen to be kind.

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