My Top 10 Songs – Elton John

Who doesn’t love a list? I am trying to comprise a list of my top 100 songs of all time but so far I have a long way to go to whittle down that list so I thought I would pick some big selling, hit making, songwriting extraordinaire artists.

I have been through a number of artists and compiled my top 10 lists but I will start with someone who is the the top 10 selling artists of all time with approximately 78 million albums sold and that is Elton John.

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He doesn’t require much introduction from me but needless to say he has been responsible for some of the greatest pop songs of all time and his career has spanned 33 albums and 128 singles. Of that 128 singles I have picked my top 10.

This is not a list to say what are the best songs by Elton John but a list of what I consider my favourites of his discography.

 

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10. Your Song (1970)

Album: Elton John (1970) Writer(s): Elton John, Benie Taupin Producer: Gus Dudgeon

The first big hit of his career is a song that many consider his best even with the 127 singles that followed. The trademark piano playing from Elton opens the track as it becomes instantly recognizable. The lyrics are sweet without being saccharine and the dark tone of the melody is something I have always thought makes this song so very beautiful.

The vocal has this honest frailty which fits the lyrics perfectly as the song is about hope and dreams and of course ultimately love.

Key Lyric:

I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world

 

9. Candle In The Wind (1974)

Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1974) Writer(s): Elton John, Bernie Taupin Producer: Gus Dudgeon

The first of three tracks I have chosen from the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album. This track is a tribute to Marilyn Monroe who had died 11 years before. The song is such a beautiful ode to someone who even today is a cultural icon.

The track was of course re-written in 1997 after the death of Princess Diana and this version is still the biggest selling single in UK history but it is the original 1974 version that is far superior and like “Your Song” the way Elton delivers the lyrics with his vocal evoke such a sadness and moment to stop and ponder this tragic story.

Key Lyric:

And I would have liked to have known you 
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did

 

8. I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues (1983)

Album: Too Low For Zero (1974) Writer(s): Elton John, Benie Taupin, Davey Johnstone Producer: Chris Thomas

The bluesy soft rock nature of this song always appealed to me with the gospel elements also incorporated. This song is a departure from his work in the 70’s but it doesn’t sound like a dated 80’s song at all.

The piano alongside some great guitar work from Davey Johnstone makes the instrumentation really full of depth and you even get a harmonica solo from none other than Stevie Wonder.

This is just a pretty song about wishing you were with someone and realising that this what people talk about when they discuss being sad and having the blues.

Key Lyrics:

But more than ever I simply love you
More than I love life itself

 

7. I’m Still Standing (1983)

Album: Too Low For Zero (1974) Writer(s): Elton John, Benie Taupin Producer: Chris Thomas

One of the most popular Elton John songs is my 7th favourite track. I am not ashamed to like such a 1980’s pop hit like this. It might be a song that has been played to death but when you break everything down it is such as brilliantly constructed song.

It has attitude in the vocal performance and mixed with such direct and almost angry lyrics the song really produces such a euphoric production. The pounding bass is relentless and the guitar work from Davey Johnston again really stands out.

If you watch any live performance of this song you can really grasp the energy and it arguably the most uptempo single Elton ever released.

Key Lyric:

I’m still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

 

6. Bennie and the Jets (1974)

Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1974) Writer(s): Elton John, Bernie Taupin Producer: Gus Dudgeon

This was the track that saw him accepted by black America as this song charted on the R&B chart. I have always loved this song because it sounds like no other song and certainly nothing like Elton would do again.

The track is a satirical look at a fan whose favourite band is this fictional group “Bennie and the Jets”. The track is so simple bordering on plain but the bass and wonderful piano playing just move the track forward to this sort of head nodding piece of magic.

The inclusion of crowd sounds gives it this live jam feel and I absolutely adore this song.

Key Lyrics:

She’s got electric boots a mohair suit
You know I read it in a magazine
B-B-B-Bennie and the Jets

 

5. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1974) 

Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1974) Writer(s): Elton John, Bernie Taupin Producer: Gus Dudgeon

I remember when I was younger I used to listen to Magic FM at night. For those who don’t know, Magic is a easy listening radio station and they used to play this song all the time. There was something about laying there in the dark and listening to this track that used to just mesmerize me.

Everything on this track is magical. The production and how the vocal seems spacey and rich with the chorus hitting those high notes which I am sure anyone who knows this song have bellowed out loudly at some point.

It’s one of the greatest songs of the 70’s in my opinion and fits the time and style perfectly.

 

4. Are You Ready For Love (1979)

Album: The Thom Bell Sessions Writer(s): Thom Bell, LeRoy Bell, Casey James Producer: Thom Bell

This song is taken from “The Thom Bell Sessions” EP released in 1979. Thom Bell was a producer and writer who had made his name as one of the creators of Philly Soul as he wrote songs such as “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind” performed by the Delphonics, The Spinners biggest hits “I’ll Be Around” and “Could it be i’m falling in love” and the Spinners tracks such as “Stop Look (listen to your heart)” and “You Are Everything”.

This is the only song on the list that Elton John did not have a hand in writing. It made no impact as a single in 1979 and it was only in 2003 when remixed by Ashley Beedle that it became a massive hit and reached number one.

I think this is a brilliant pop/disco song. The way the build up to the euphoric chorus develops is glorious and the production and instrumentation is as good as any song Elton John released.

The only way to listen to this song is the full 07:47m original version.

Key Lyrics:

I’ll paint a masterpiece
Just for you to see
If you let me love you
Let me love you.

 

3. Tiny Dancer (1972)

Album: Madman Across The Water Writer(s): Elton John, Bernie Taupin Producer: Gus Dudgeon

I love this song. I can’t really say much more than that. It’s just a gorgeous song sung wonderfully and produced impeccability. It’s a song that will stop me in my tracks no matter how many times I hear it.

I remember seeing the song used in the movie “Almost Famous” where most of the cast sing the song on the bus and it is really a perfect representation to just how this song can make people feel. There is something magical about the way it progresses as it is a song without a hook yet you can still seem to sing along to it especially when you can scream out in a high pitched voice “Hoooolllld me close tiny daaancer”. Well I do anyway!

A quite magnificent song.

Key Lyrics:

Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
And now she’s in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand

 

2. Rocket Man (1972)

Album: Honky Château Writer(s): Elton John, Bernie Taupin Producer: Gus Dudgeon

Whenever I think of the term “atmosphereic” in context of a song I would think this is the epitome. This song is one of the greatest of all time in my humble opinion and has every element perfectly executed.

Produced by long time collaborator Gus Dudgeon who also produced “Space Oddity” for David Bowie and it is difficult not to make comparisons to the content about a spaceman and the loneliness that befalls such a person.

It just sets the scene so well that this man is going into space which is an incredible thing but what makes us human is that interaction with those we love and how this man is coming to terms with what his future holds

A stunning song and very close to being my number one.

Key Lyrics:

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

 

1. Daniel (1973)

Album: Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player Writer(s): Elton John, Bernie Taupin Producer: Gus Dudgeon

“Daniel” is my favourite Elton John song. I thought long and hard about which song would be my number one but I always kept coming back to this. Released some time before I was born the memory of growing up and hearing the song on radio still stays with me.

The question of who was Daniel and why did Elton John miss him so much often has people thinking this was a song about a lover of Eltons when in fact it was just a story about someone who has gone to war in Vietnam but the last verse was cut from the song which explained this so the song takes on a different context about loss and the whole thing feels incredibly sad.

It won the Ivor Novello award for best song in 1973 and I still think it sounds beautiful today. I absolutely adore this song.

Key Lyrics:

Oh and I can see Daniel waving goodbye
God it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes
Oh God it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eye

 

 

This is in no way a definitive list and I am sure some of you are reading wondering why certain songs have been left out but this is just my selection of favourite tracks and let me know what yours are!

Thank you for reading my Top 10 of Elton John songs. I am going to be doing further Top 10 lists for a host of other big artists over the coming weeks.

 

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Spotify Playlist:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1136068738/playlist/0E2t5DEwJN5Hoi1knNj53Y

 

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