Candle in the Wind

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"Candle in the Wind"
Elton John - Candle in the Wind (1986).jpg
Cover of the 1986 live version
Single by Elton John
from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
B-side"Bennie and the Jets"
Released22 February 1974 (1974-02-22)
RecordedMay 1973
StudioChâteau d'Hérouville, France
GenrePop rock, soft rock
Composer(s)Elton John
Lyricist(s)Bernie Taupin
Producer(s)Gus Dudgeon
Elton John singles chronology
"Bennie and the Jets"
"Candle in the Wind"
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"

"Candle in the Wind" is a threnody with music and lyrics by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. It was originally written in 1973, in honor of Marilyn Monroe, who had died 11 years earlier.[1] In 1997, John performed a rewritten version of the song, "Candle in the Wind 1997", as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales.

In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine listed the original version of the song at No. 347 of its 500 greatest songs of all time.[2]

Original version[edit]

The original version, which is in the key of E major appeared on John's 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and was released as a single in 1974. The lyrics of the song are a sympathetic portrayal of the life of Marilyn Monroe. The song's opening line "Goodbye, Norma Jean" refers to Monroe's real name, Norma Jeane (more commonly spelled Jean) Baker. In the Eagle Vision documentary on the making of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Taupin said the song is about "the idea of fame or youth or somebody being cut short in the prime of their life. The song could have been about James Dean, it could have been about Montgomery Clift, it could have been about Jim Morrison ... how we glamorise death, how we immortalise people."

The single release of the original song reached No. 11 in the UK charts in 1974. At the time, it was not released as a single in the United States as "Bennie and the Jets" was chosen instead. Taupin was inspired to write the lyrics after hearing the phrase "candle in the wind" used in tribute to Janis Joplin.


This version was ranked No. 347 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004. In 2010, the ranking dropped to No. 356.[3]

During a concert on 7 April 1990 at Farm Aid IV, John dedicated the song to Ryan White, who had been suffering from AIDS. White died of AIDS complications the next day. John performed the song "Skyline Pigeon" at White's funeral.



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[4] Silver 200,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

1986 live version[edit]

On 14 December 1986, a live version of the song was recorded in Sydney, Australia. This version features only Elton backing himself on the piano, other than atmospheric keyboard textures and bass pedals throughout the song, which were played by Elton via MIDI. It was released in 1987 on the album Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and as a single. In 1988, it reached number five on the UK Singles Chart and number six on the US Billboard Hot 100.



Grammy Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1988 "Candle in the Wind (live 1986)" Best Pop Vocal Performance – Male[6] Nominated

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1988) Position
United States (Billboard)[7][8] 71

1997 version[edit]

"Candle in the Wind 1997" or "Goodbye England's Rose" is a new recording of "Candle in the Wind", with new lyrics, written and recorded as a tribute to Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales. Released in September 1997, the song peaked at No. 1 in the United Kingdom, becoming John's fourth No. 1 single. It also peaked at No. 1 in several other countries. This version was produced by George Martin.

2003 acoustic remix[edit]

Using the same vocal take as the original 1973 recording, engineer Greg Penny stripped away all instrumentation except Davey Johnstone's acoustic guitar. Even the double-tracking of the lead vocal was removed, leaving Elton and the original backing vocal arrangement of Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson and Davey Johnstone. The remix first appeared as a bonus track on the 30th Anniversary edition of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and subsequently on the 2003 EP Remixed.


  1. ^ Ben Brantley (11 October 2004). "Some Like It Hot, Some Like It Painted in Words". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  2. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". 9 December 2004. Archived from the original on 22 June 2008. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Candle in the Wind ranked 356th greatest song". 11 December 2003. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  4. ^ "British single certifications – Elton John – Candle in the Wind". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 12 July 2019.Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Candle in the Wind in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  5. ^ "About". Fred Mandel Music. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  6. ^ "Grammy Awards: Best Pop Vocal Performance – Male". Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  7. ^ "1988 The Year in Music & Video: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. 100 (52): Y-20. 24 December 1988.
  8. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1988". Retrieved 3 October 2016.