The Story of... 'Your Song' by Elton John

15 November 2018, 14:05

Elton John
Picture: BBC

By Tom Eames

"It's a little bit funny..."

It's one of the most beautiful love songs ever written, and one of Sir Elton John's finest ever songs.

Now that he has revisited the classic in the John Lewis Christmas advert for 2018, it got us thinking about its main inspiration and ongoing legacy.

Read more: Elton John's 14 best ever songs

Here are all the big facts about 'Your Song':

  1. Who wrote 'Your Song'?

    Elton John And Bernie Taupin
    Elton John And Bernie Taupin. Picture: Getty

    Like with most Elton songs, he wrote the melody of the song while Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics.

    The song was written in 1967 and included on Elton's self-titled second album. Taupin was just 17 when he wrote it.

    It was one of the first songs Elton wrote with Taupin. They met after a record company gave Elton some of Taupin's lyrics to work with.

    Eventually, they moved into Elton's parents' house, where they started working together. The original lyrics have coffee stains on them.

    "The original lyric was written very rapidly on the kitchen table of Elton's mother's apartment in Northwood Hills in the suburbs of London, if I recall, on a particularly grubby piece of exercise paper," Taupin later said.

  2. 'Your Song' meaning: What inspired the song?

    Taupin wrote the song's lyrics after having breakfast on the roof of 20 Denmark Street, London, where Elton worked for a music publishing firm as an office boy.

    This inspired the line: "I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss".

    The lyrics express the romantic feelings of an innocent person. Elton sings a straightforward love-song at the beginning: "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."

    Elton has said that this song is not about anyone in particular, and Taupin has refused to reveal the identity of the person, if they even exist. He told Rolling Stone: "I always thought 'Your Song' was written about one of his girlfriends, and when I asked him that, he just said, 'No it wasn't!' He gets fairly defensive."

    He told Music Connection in 1989: "It's like the perennial ballad 'Your Song,' which has got to be one of the most naïve and childish lyrics in the entire repertoire of music, but I think the reason it still stands up is because it was real at the time.

    "That was exactly what I was feeling. I was 17 years old and it was coming from someone whose outlook on love or experience with love was totally new and naïve."

  3. Elton didn't actually record it first

    Before he was a huge success, Elton worked as a songwriter and studio musician, and was briefly the warm-up act for US rock band Three Dog Night.

    Three Dog Night recorded 'Your Song' on their 1970 album It Ain't Easy.

    However, they decided not to release it as a single in order to give the young Elton his big chance of making a success of himself, and it worked. Thanks guys!

  4. How did it perform in the charts?

    Surprisingly, the song only reached number 7 in the UK and number 8 in the US, but it has gone on to become one of Elton's most celebrated songs.

  5. Who has covered 'Your Song'?

    MANY artists over the years!

    Elton himself has released updated versions, including a duet with Alessandro Safina in 2002. He also performed it with Billy Joel in 2001 at a tribute show following the 9/11 attacks.

    Other covers include:

    - Rod Stewart
    - Ellie Goulding (used in the 2010 John Lewis Christmas advert, a number two hit single)
    - Lady Gaga
    - Billy Paul
    - Harry Connick Jr
    - Ewan McGregor (in Moulin Rouge)

  6. What are the lyrics?

    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, 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

    I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss
    Well a few of the verses well they've got me quite cross
    But the sun's been quite kind while I wrote this song
    It's for people like you that keep it turned on

    So excuse me forgetting but these things I do
    You see I've forgotten if they're green or they're blue
    Anyway the thing is what I really mean
    Yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen

    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

  7. It was used in the John Lewis Christmas advert

    For 2018, Elton John appeared in the John Lewis Christmas advert, in which it showcased his rise to fame and success while performing 'Your Song' over the years.

    It showed how being given a piano at a young age helped him become the superstar he is today.

    'Your Song' was previously used in the 2010 John Lewis Christmas advert, covered by Ellie Goulding.