20 Nov 2007
The Story Behind "Philadelphia Freedom"
The first song wrote consciously as a single, is a tribute to Elton's friend Billy Jean King and her tennis team, the Philadelphia Freedoms. Elton had told her he would have Bernie write lyrics for her, capting the idea of winning despite all odds, and she thought "No way!". Elton, who met Billy Jean and Jimmy Connors in 1973, had been allowed to play against her on court and the song should be in return for that.
But he did it and asked to Bernie. "I said to Bernie: could you write a song called Philadelphia Freedom for me? Thank you, Elton". "I can't write a song about tennis" protested Bernie. And he did it. "It's not exactly the easiest title to deal with" added Bernie. Bernie claims that lyrics mean nothing.
Billy Jean explained "Elton was so nervous when he play me the song, but I loved it... it was so thoughtful, it meant a lot".
The friendship reminds over the years. "I beat Billy Jean at tennis once" Elton recalled. "I was standing there in a kind of daze when she came up and said: Shall we play for real now?. And I thought: oh, shut up!"
Philadelphia Freedom's lyrics:
Music by Elton John
Lyrics by Bernie Taupin
"I used to be a rolling stone
You know if a cause was right
I'd leave to find the answer on the road
I used to be a heart beating for someone
But the times have changed
The less I say the more my work gets done
`Cause I live and breathe this Philadelphia freedom
From the day that I was born I've waved the flag
Philadelphia freedom took me knee-high to a man
Yeah gave me peace of my mind daddy never had
Oh Philadelphia freedom shine on me, I love you
Shine a light through the eyes of the ones left behind
Shine a light shine the light
Shine a light won't you shine the light
Philadelphia freedom I love you, yes I do
If you choose to you can live your life alone
Some people choose the city
Some others choose the good old family home
I like living easy without family ties
Till the whippoorwill of freedom zapped me
Right between the eyes"