The Top 10 Elton John Songs
# 10 – Someone Saved My Life Tonight
“Some Saved My Life Tonight,” was the first single off Elton John’s 1975 album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. The song appeared as the last track on side one of the record. The running time of most hit pop records clock in at around three and a half minutes. Elton John’s single “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” ran close to six and a half minutes. It was a true tribute to the greatness of the song that AM radio played a six and a half minute song in heavy rotation.
There were no edited versions of the song as it was a pop music masterpiece in its entirety. It easily stands as one of the best audio sounding singles ever released. Elton John has often said in many interviews that Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy was his best work. It would be hard to argue with Elton about that.
# 9 – Your Song
Elton John’s “Your Song,” appeared on the singer’s 1971 MCA Album Elton John. It was one of the singer’s earliest hit records. The song defined the early 1970’s James Taylor style soft rock era, and became a staple of radio play for decades. It has probably been one of the most covered songs by cafe performers over the past 40 years.
Released during the same era as Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”, it displayed the same promise of Joel’s song in defining the potential of an artist who would become a true legend. The songs has been covered by many artists such as Rod Stewart, Harry Connick, Jr. (very cool soft swinging New Orleans style version) and ,most recently Ellie Goulding. One of Elton’s most beautiful songs.
# 8 – Daniel
Released on the 1973 album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player,” Elton John’s song “Daniel,” was one of the most moving and misunderstood songs of the artist’s career. It wasn’t until many years after the song was released that Bernie Taupin explained that the song was about a returning veteran coming home from the Vietnam War. The song reached the No 2 position on the Billboard charts in 1972. The album’s first single “Crocodile Rock,”actually hit No.1 on the Billboard charts.
# 7 – Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me,” was one of the grandest songs of the artists career. The song was released on the 1974 Caribou album. It reached No 1 on the British Pop Charts. In the United States the song reached all the way to the No 2 spot on the Billboard music Charts. Elton John songs always featured beautiful backing vocals that were produced by Elton and his band. However, the backing vocals on the song “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down Me,” featured backing vocals by the Beach Boys Carl Wilson, and Toni Tennille of the Captain and Tennille fame.
# 6 – Levon
The song “Levon,” lands in the Top 10 Elton John Songs list as the first of two tracks taken from the Madman Across the Water LP. Released in 1973, the song “Levon,” was the second track on the LP behind the album opener, “Tiny Dancer.” It may be safe to say that the one two punch of “Tiny Dancer,” and “Levon,” stands as the best two song opening of any Elton John album. The song’s main lyric, “He was born on a Christmas day when the New York Times said God is dead and the Wars begun.” was one of Bernie Taupin’s most prolific lyrics that resonated deeply with the public in the shadows of the Vietnam War and the ongoing threat to world peace during the Cold War period.
# 5 – Rocket Man
The world’s fascination with space travel grew strong in the late nineteen sixties with the accomplishments of the United States and Soviet Union competing space programs. Furthermore movies like 2001 Space Odyssey further fueled the public appetite for heroic stories of astronauts and rocket ships. However, more directly, Bernie Taupin’s lyrics to “Rocket Man,” were inspired by the Ray Bradbury short story, “The Rocket Man.”
The song “Rocket Man,” was released on the Honky Chateau album in 1972. The song reached No. 6 on the U.S. Billboard charts and came close to hitting No. 1 in the UK, as the single reached all the way to No.2. The song was one of a handful of nineteen seventies Elton John singles that defined the classic Elton John sound that was so well loved at the time.
# 4 – Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy
“Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,” stands as one of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s greatest artistic achievements. The song was an autobiographical tale of both men’s careers. From a production standpoint, the song’s sound quality and depth easily trumped any of Elton John’s previous records. Elton John albums always presented the listener with great production, but the sound of the Captain Fantastic single was simply amazing. The song’s melody, chord changes and lyrical content defined two artists’ at the peak of their careers. It was a mesmerizing production that has stood the test of time as one of the greatest Elton John songs.
# 3 – Bennie and the Jets
If you first heard this song in the 1970’s you probably had no idea what Elton John was singing about. Furthermore the line, “She’s got electric boots, a mohair suit, was completely misinterpreted in many different ways. However, none of that mattered because the song was so undeniably good. It was played constantly on the radio on both AM and FM stations. The song hit No.1 on the U.S Billboard music charts in 1974. It was also a Top 20 hit on the Billboard soul charts. It can easily be defined as one of the most original sounding Elton John Songs of the singer’s career.
# 2 – Tiny Dancer
Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” could very well be the singer’s most loved song. The song opened the Madman Across the Water LP in 1972 and instantly became a fan favorite. The line that sets up the chorus in which Elton John sings, “Only You, and You can Hear Me,” has become one off Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s most treasured moments in their songwriting career. The song has continued to be featured in motion pictures since it was released in 1972. The Cameron Crowe film “Almost Famous,” featured the song in one of the most enjoyable scenes in the film. Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” is one of those Elton John songs that you just simply will never get tired of hearing.
# 1 – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” was the title track from the singer’s legendary 1973 LP Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Many critics have argued that the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road LP was the singer’s finest moment. It was an incredible album spawning four hit singles. The album would have had many more hit singles, but Elton John prevented the record company from releasing more singles from the LP because he released a new LP (Caribou) six months after Goodbye Yellow Brick Road had been released.
The title track is quite simply Elton John’s greatest song and one of the greatest singles ever released in the Classic Rock era. Elton wrote so many incredible pieces of music. So in the end, it may be a little ridiculous naming a best Elton John song, but if we were left with the choice of only having one Elton John song to take on to that deserted island, well then “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” would be the choice. Why? Well this is one that you just have to listen to.
Updated Nov 11, 2020
Top 10 Elton John Songs published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2020
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