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18 Sept 2010

Songs About Elton John

"Empty Garden" is a tribute to John Lennon, "Cage The Songbird" to Edith Piaf, "Candle In The Wind" to Marylin Monroe; that's all well known. But I just thought: is there anywhere songs written as a tribute to Elton John?

Tom Robinson penned a song for Elton for "The Fox" album, after collaborating on the 21 At 33 sessions. The story about two student gays was not about Elton as it could seem, just it was Elton who wrote the title "Elton's Song" when he picked up the collection of lyrics Robinson wrote for his album. It was Elton's song, a song for Elton. But certainly there are few artists who counts Elton John as an idol, and dedicate a song to him.

The first female 'rocker' of the francophone world, Diane Dufresne has often been compared to Édith Piaf for her sensitive and powerful performances. She released in 1972 an album which had a song called «En Écoutant Elton John», which translates “While Listening To Elton John”, by lyricist Luc Plamondon, who wrote many of her most popular songs. It was a big success, reaching Number 5 in the Top 10 French-Canadian Songs. Dufrense continued her work into the 21st century, winning many awards along the way.

"En Écoutant Elton John"

Not climb the curtains,
Not climb on your high horse,
Try to stay so cool.
What makes you suddenly shouting
Like a fool, you'd better change the mood.

But mostly,
Come talk to me of love, no, no, no, no,
Not after everything you just said there.
Don't talk to me of love, I'll do it by myself
While listening to Elton John.

Speaking of love in stereo
That rest me of the sound of your voice.
Don't talk to me of love, I'll do it by myself
While listening to Elton John.

Not climb in columns,
Do not scare the birds,
Don't wake up the whole street.
Come you not hang around my neck, not just lick me
The knees like a poor lost dog.

And mostly,
Come talk to me of love, no, no, no, no,
Not after everything you just said there.
Don't talk to me of love, I'll do it by myself
While listening to Elton John.

Plamondon developed a close working partnership with Michel Berger, frequently getting together throughout 1976 to work on a new joint musical entitled "Starmania". Elton John also was a great Berger fan, he knew all his hits by heart, and contacted him to collaborate on two duets with France Gall, Berger's wife. Precisely, Berger composed in 1980"Il Jouait Du Piano Debout" for Gall, a tribute to Elton John that climbed to No 1 in French Singles Charts. The title means "Playing The Piano Standing Up" and it goes:

"Il Jouait Du Piano Debout"

"Don't tell me this guy was crazy
He doesn't live like the others, that's it
And for strange reasons
People who aren't like us
They bother us

Don't tell me this boy was no good
He chose another way
And for strange reasons
People whom think diference
They bother us
They bother us

He played the piano standing up
It may seems trivial to you
But for me it means a lot
That means he was free
Happy to be there anyway
He played the piano standing up
When the cowards are on their knees
And the soldiers on parade
Simply on their feet
He wanted to be him, you understand

Some just for their music, they are patriots
It would be death on the battlefield for some notes
And for strange reasons
People whom tkae their dreams
They bother us

He and his piano, sometimes they cried
But it's when the others were not there
And for strange reasons
His image has marked my memory
My memory

He played the piano standing up
It may seems trivial to you
But for me it means a lot
That means he was free
Happy to be there anyway
He played the piano standing
He sang on crazy rhythms
And for me it means a lot
It means: "trying to live"
"Try to be happy, it's worth it

Another singer, Don Partridge explained his experiences of life on the road, on the autobiographical song "The Night I Met Elton John", 2004. In the 60s, Partridge was a successful solo entertainer who released "Rosie", a number 4 in the UK Singles Charts in March 1968 and "Blue Eyes", a Top 3 song which reads "Blue eyes look my way, Make today my lucky day, Blue eyes looking at me, Hope you're liking what you see (...) Blue eyes shining down, Everything is right somehow". Elton years later asked Gary Osborne to do a song with the same title. Another coincidence, Partridge has his own "Elderberry Wine" song. However, Don was too unconventional even for the music business and after touring Britain with a band of fellow street musicians and organising a "Buskers Happening" at the Albert Hall, he abandoned stardom for a life on the road. After more than thirty years of travelling, kept alive by busking and selling books of poetry, Don Partridge agreed to record a selection of his songs for Longman Records in 2004.

"Elton is 'chuffed' at least; Mary Lee's song pleases hit maker" reads a headline of Washington Post in 2006. The article began when Mary Lee's Corvette, a New York-based band led by Michigan-born singer-songwriter Mary Lee Kortes, invoked the name of the english pop icon on a song called "Where Did I Go Wrong, Elton John", 2006. “He said he was quite chuffed and that his entourage, who were all around listening with him, went around singing the song to him for days” said Mary Lee explaining that it was her homage to music's transportive properties.

"Where Did I Go Wrong, Elton John"

"You meant the world to me
Through your glasses I could see
Every little thing I could be
I hung on your every word

And your melodies conferred
That my dreams were within reach
Every question had an answer
I could fly, this tiny dancer

Where did I go wrong, Elton John
Thought I wrote the perfect song
To sing along
Maybe even lean upon
But I was wrong so wrong
Elton John

Mornings turned into bad days
But I grew up anyways
I wished you were my father
Cause you pulled me cross mad water

I heard music in my heart
Surely good would come from art
An innocent misunderstanding
But look at me I'm still standing

You're part of the best part of me
One day the whole world might see
But I think it's going to be
A long, long time

Well the day is getting long
You could say this is your song
Though you'll probably never hear it
You've taken me somewhere

Far from things I cannot bear
Wish I could do the same for you
So I'll send this off to you
It's not much but it's the best I can do

And Vito Cole from Wayne, Nebraska, has been doing the singer-songwriter/band thing for about 10 years until releasing his debut album in 2002, "Someone I used to know". "I wrote this song 1 month after the unexpected passing of my father" reminded Vito while adding: "He had a very large record collection which we listened to together until the day he died..... We listened to everything from swinging with sammy kaye to brownsville station, Tom Waits to professor longhair, but we always seem to come back to elton john!!!!!". He was referring to the song "Elton John's Glasses", the one that ended the album. "So many great songs, so many memories of the record room at dad's house.... I miss my dad terribly but hearing elton always makes me remember him smiling, and playing his beautiful air guitar!!!" concluded.

"Elton John's Glasses"

"I'm gonna write comic book characters from mars
They don't like earth people but they sing kereoke at bars
They have pierced genitalia
And tattoos on their asses
And they love elton john's glasses

The main characters name is vito,
Cuz its a pretty good name,
It happens to be my name,
maybe that's a coincidence,
I don't know but I don't have pierced genitalia
or tattoos on my asses
I've heard of the baby jesus,
and I'm indifferent to elton john's glasses

My dad's favorite song might have been this one
Cuz he liked things that made him laugh
He's been dead for 3 years now,
I'm sorry this last verse is so sad,
But I'm trying to put up my front so u won't know this,
I'm writing him a song so he will know this
Cuz without him around I feel like I'm from mars

But everybody could be agree that the best lyric composed about Elton, is penned by Leon Russell. "When he first played that song we were all moved to tears", Elton says. "Then he said, “Thank you for saving my life”, and I lost it completely. It was one of the greatest moments of my life". Leon sings "The Hands of Angels", in the manner of a backwoods gospel song, celebrating a kind of rebirth. Russell underwent surgery for a brain fluid leak in January, threatening a Union retreat: "Well I could have been sick, I could have died". Also, he gives thanks to Elton for 'a brand new start’: "I wanted to give Elton something for all he was giving me," Russell says. "I asked my wife, 'What do you give a guy who has six fully staffed houses and 10 of everything else in the world?' When I sang it the first time, it was too high. But Elton liked it."

"The Hands Of Angels"

"Well I could have been sick
I could have died
I could have given up
And not tried
To make it to tomorrow
Like a broken hearted lover

But there was a brand new start
And suddenly I was taken
New and faraway places
And the music I was shaken

It was a whole new race
When I woke on that first day
There was nothing I could say
I was in the hands of angels

Johnny and the governor
Came and brought me to my senses
They made me feel just like a king
Made me lose all my bad defenses

And they knew all the places
I needed to go
All of the people
I needed to know
They knew who I needed
And who needed me
And who would come help me
And who would just let me be

I was in the hands of angels
Until this very day
Inside the hands of angels
What more can I say

When you're in the hands of angels
Life is oh so sweet
And you feel the love
Down deep inside
Even out there on the street

In the hands of angels"

end of part one

sources:,, Christian Rioux "La Encyclopedia Of Music In Canada",,

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