CANDLE IN THE WIND, by Elton John
Words and Music by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
Piano arrangement by Gabriele Filippi
Candle in The Wind is an amazing song, brought to us by one of the most praiseworthy artists in the world, and initially seen in an equally wonderful album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Released in 1973, that album is widely regarded as Elton John‘s magnum opus and includes a string of songs, one more beautiful than the other. In addition to the homonymous title track, it is worth mentioning Bennie and the Jets, Harmony, as well as Jamaica Jerk-off, I’ve Seen That Movie Too, and of course the famous Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.
Considered by some to be a concept album, the further peculiarity of that album is that it was recorded in two locations. The first in Kingstone in Jamaica. Here to accompany Elton, there is his whole support band: the late bassist Dee Murray, who died in 1992, not yet 46, struck down by a tumor; Nigel Olsson on drums; Davey Johnstone on guitar; as well as the inevitable lyricist Bernie Taupin.
Elton will talk about having composed the most of these songs on an electric piano in two days, creating a collection of masterpieces that flowed from his genius and his creative flair by him in a unique creative momentum.
The situation in Kingstone was not the best. Outside there was even the army. So Elton and his band think it’s best to leave at some point. The recordings would take place later, in a French castle used as a recording studio, where the band stayed twelve days and where 21 tracks were made, 17 of which included in this double album.
Not very keen on having the album double, as this would raise production costs, we are sure that not even Elton could have imagined that the higher cost would have been worth the release, given the beauty, the thickness, and the caliber of that album. It is no coincidence that Goodbye Yellow Brick Road remained in the world charts for several weeks, selling more than 30 million copies globally.
I was 13 when I got this album as a gift. Particularly significant in my musical journey, I had no idea who Elton John was when I received it. And that album surprised me right from the cover, with that eclectic persona, moving his steps in his raft along a road drawn on a wall. After listening to it for the first time, I continued to listen to it over and over again, enraptured by an illuminating epiphany.
For me, Elton John was a teacher. Listening to his pianism enlightened me the way, with his way of playing the piano, transshipping the instrument to a leading role even in the Rock genre. He was one of the first to do it. Until then, Rock was synonymous with guitars. Among his ballads, one that undoubtedly stands out is Candle in the Wind. It is a song that does not speak in a broad sense of Marilyn Monroe but refers to her death (as also stated by Taupin himself). A tribute to the famous actress and sex symbol who died of a drug overdose in 1962, the “candle in the wind” represents her short but eventful life.
Coming to more recent times, this song was then revived on the occasion of Diana Spencer’s funeral. Taupin slightly modified the text, creating a version dedicated to her. We’re talking about 1997, so not ages ago, and to this day, this is still one of the bestselling single in history. The reprise of a song, which marked an era. A piece of beauty, frozen in time.
Built on an ABABAB pattern, with a verse and a chorus that repeat 3 times and without any specials or bridges, this is an example of a song that is not full of harmonies at all. In the E key, like many Pop songs, Candle in the Wind is based on the three primary chords, I (E), IV (A), and V (B). This piano arrangement is, similarly to the original version, only enriched sporadically by the diatonic IIm (F#m) and VIm (C#m) chords and some inverted chords (for example: E/G# or I/III).
A piece with a simple but well thought out structure, well sung, and with a pregnant meaning. Undoubtedly a jewel of music, which I hope you will appreciate in all its entirety.