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40 Best Elton John Songs of All-Time

The Greatest of Sir Elton John

By Rick Henry ChristopherPublished 27 days ago Updated 27 days ago 28 min read
Designed by Rick Henry Christopher

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As with any type of list like this one, this is purely subjective. This list is only for entertainment purposes and is made to spread the joy and heartfelt feeling and emotions of Elton John's phenomenal music.

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There are few names that everybody knows whether you've heard their music or watched their movies or television shows or not: Elvis Presley, Lucille Ball, Beatles, Diana Ross, Pink Floyd, John Wayne, Madonna are just a few. Elton John is one of those names that people from all generations know. At some point in time most everybody alive on earth has heard an Elton John song whether it was on the radio, in a movie, television show or streaming on the internet.

Around Christmas 1974 my dad ordered Elton John's Greatest Hits from Columbia House on 8-track. That 8-track had all the greats on it. We especially liked "Honky Cat" and "Crocodile Rock," because those songs got the family groovin'. My favorite was "Daniel," that one was easy for me to sing along to

As I grew up Elton's music stuck with me. In the 1980s he continued with a good run of hits such as "Little Jeannie," "Blue Eyes," "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues," "Nikita," "I'm Still Standing," and "I Don't Want To Go On With You Like That."

Elton remained relevant in the 1990s with several hits including his all-time best-selling single "Candle in the Wind '97."

Elton John has sold more than 300 million records and millions more if you include downloads and streams.

The Bubbling Under List

60. "Two Rooms at the End of the World" (1980) / 59. "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy" (1975) / 58. "Western Ford Gateway" (1969) / 57. "Writing (1975) / 56. "One More Arrow" (1983) / 55. Pinky" (1974) / 54."I Think I'm Going To Kill Myself" (1972) / 53. "Cage the Songbird" (1976) / 52. "Michelle's Song (1970) / 51. "Sad Songs" (1984) / 50. "Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word" (1976) / 49. "Elderberry Wine" (1973) / 48. "Midnight Creeper" (1973) / 47. "Blue Eyes" (1982) / 46. Jack Rabbit (1973) / 45. Lovesick (1978) / 44. Flintstone Boy (1978) / 43. Ego (1978) / 42. "Pinball Wizard" (1975) / 41. "Candle in the Wind 1997" (1997)

≈≈≈ 40 Best Elton John Songs of All Time ≈≈≈

40. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" (1974)

Parent Album: Elton John's Greatest Hits Volume Two

I love The Beatles and I love Elton John and I love this song. I could say that I love both versions of this song evenly. But if I were to be honest about it - it is Elton John's version that has my heart. Sacrilege... I know!!! It's a Beatles song, but I like Elton John's cover better.

There's plenty here to love. But let's dig a little into the song's history. The song was written by John Lennon for The Beatles' classic album "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," which was released in 1967. Lennon’s son Julian (Too Late for Goodbye) brought home a drawing of his classmate Lucy O'Donnell, Lennon saw that it was titled “Lucy – in the sky with diamonds.” Lennon thought that was beautiful and quickly wrote a song based on it. Lennon stated he used a lot of imagery from Alice in Wonderland for the lyrics. So, wait, is John Lennon trying to tell us he wrote a children's song?

Anyhow, eight short years later Elton John covers the song and takes it to #1 on the charts. It's an enormous hit. Elton called on John Lennon to help with the song. You can hear Lennon's backing and harmony vocals and his trippy guitar work. Lennon was credited on the album as Dr. Winston O'Boogie. Putting all this star power aside, let's not forget the players in Elton's band. Davey Johnstone puts in a stellar performance with his electric guitar and Nigel Olsson gave us some great big booming drum patterns. One of the most unusual or maybe unique aspects of the song is Elton's star-gazed harpsichord. Oh, and did I mention there's even a brief reggae break in the song?

39. Little Jeannie (1980)

Parent Album: 21 at 33

"Little Jeannie" was Elton's first song to make it into the US Top 3 since 1976's 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart." But this ended up not being a solid comeback, as it was another two years before Elton would have another sizable hit, that being 1982's "Blue Eyes." Gary Osborne co-wrote both songs with Elton.

The most appealing aspects of the song are the nice mid-tempo rhythm which played well on the dance floor and a great horn section. But the song's highlight definitely has to be the jazz filled sax solo by Jim Horn.

38. "Skyline Pigeon" (Piano Version) (1972)

Parent Album: Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player

This fan favorite was originally recorded in 1968 and released 8n 1969 on his debut album Empty Sky with Elton playing the harpsichord and organ. The song became popular in Brazil when the 1972 rerecording was released as the B-Side of "Daniel."

This rerecording which appears on the album Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player" features Elton on piano.

37. Looking Up (2016)

Parent Album: Wonderful Crazy Night

Right away when I heard this song I loved it. I hadn't loved an Elton John song this much since "I Want Love" in 2001.

When recording the album, "Wonderful Crazy Night," Elton said, he wanted to record a joyous album. He even wanted the slow songs to be joyous. Elton succeeded in putting together a joyous album.

Right from the opening bass and guitar chords "Looking Up" dances with a joyful rhythm that lights a spark even on a dark day. Elton's keyboard parts are bouncy and uplifting and his voice has a renewed energy and joy we haven't heard in a long time. This would be a fantastic song to motivate you while doing a cardio workout.

36. "Lady Samantha" (1969)

Parent Album: Empty Sky

From his 1969 debut album Empty Sky, "Lady Samantha" was Elton's second single. The song was rereleased in 1972 as the B-Side of "Honky Cat" coupled with "It's Me That You Need".

35. "Take Me to The Pilot" (1970)

Parent Album: Elton John

"Take Me to the Pilot" was the second single release from Elton's second studio album the eponymously titled Elton John. Though "Take Me To the Pilot" received airplay it was the B-Side, "Your Song," that caught on with disc jockeys and the rest is Elton John history.

34. Mama Can't Buy You Love (1979)

Parent Album: The Thom Bell Sessions

If I would have been asked, before I made this list, if "Mama Can't Buy You Love," was one of my all-time favorite Elton John songs, I probably would have said no. But as I put this list together and listened to his songs, read the lyrics, studied the backstories and so forth, "Mama Can't Buy You Love," really stood out as one of Elton John's best.

"Mama Can't Buy You Love" was a big departure for Elton John. From the EP "The Thom Bell Sessions," his first work away from regular producer Gus Dudgeon. Thom Bell had previously worked with R&B artists such as The Stylistics and The Spinners. Bell brought an R&B flair to Elton's music and in the case of "Mama Can't Buy You Love" added a light disco rhythm to the mix. The song was a legitimate hit reaching #9 in the US and #10 in Canada. It also made it to #30 on the US Hot Soul singles charts. But this was not his first song on the soul charts, "Bennie and the Jets" (1973) and "Philadelphia Freedom" (1975) both made on the Hot Soul chart reaching #15 and #32 respectively. The Spinners singing the background singers helped the song move up the R&B/Soul charts.

End result: Pleasant blue-eyed soul.

33. "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" (1973)

Parent Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

This two-song medley incorporates an ethereal instrumental, "Funeral for a Friend," written by Elton John to reflect the type of music he would want played at his funeral.

The second part of the song "Love Lies Bleeding" is a guitar led rocker which on its own holds up well against any classic EJ tune.

Though the medley was too long to be released as a single it received prominent airplay on FM rock radio which was predispositioned to playing rock epics of the like.

32. "Sweet Painted Lady" (1973)

Parent Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

A great deep cut worthy of more attention. This song is full of sadness being told from the viewpoint of the sailors looking for a glimmer of joy but ends up with emptiness.

31. "Country Comfort" (1970)

Parent Album: Tumbleweed Connection

Another one of Elton's most underrated songs. The song was released as a single in Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil only. It charted at #15 in New Zealand.

"Country Comfort" was originally recorded by Rod Stewart for his 1970 album Gasoline Alley. Elton released his recording of the song four months later the album Tumbleweed Connection.

30. "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)" (1982)

Parent Album: Jump Up

l am a huge fan of Elton John and even bigger of John Lennon. This tribute to John Lennon is one of Elton's most beautiful yet underrated works. The song was released a year and 3 months after Lennon's murder which reduced the poignancy of the song. The song made an underwhelming impression on the charts. However, it made the Top 15 in Canada (#8), New Zealand (#14), and US (#13). In the UK (the home country to both Elton and Lennon) the song made a poor chart appearance at #51.

29. "I'm Still Standing" (1983)

Parent Album: Too Low For Zero

"I'm Still Standing" was one of Elton's five best-selling singles in the US during the 1980s. As well it was his second highest charting song reaching #4 in the UK during the 1980s.

This upbeat infectious auditory gem for many is an anthem of survivorship against the hard times in life. Of course, Bernie Taupin (Elton's lyricist) wrote this about surviving a relationship breakup.

28. "High Flying Bird" (1972)

Parent Album: Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player

One of Elton's most popular deep cuts. Many of his diehard fans thought the song should have been released as a single.

27. Strangers (1979)

Parent Album: Non-LP B-Side

This non-lp B-Side was first released as the B-Side of "Mama Can't Buy You Love" in the UK. Then universally on the flip side of Elton's disco-ish bomb "Victim of Love."

It's not certain why the song was never released as an A-Side as in my humble opinion the song is a stronger choice than both songs it backed.

Interestingly "Strangers" was produced by Pete Bellotte who is best known for co-producing and co-writing several popular songs by Donna Summer. Bellotte was experiencing huge success as a songwriter and producer in 1979 with Donna Summer's pivotal album Bad Girls.

26. "Border Song" (1970)

Parent Album: Elton John

One of Elton's most iconic songs. This was Elton's first song to chart anywhere. It made it to #92 in the US, #34 8n Canada, and #25 in the Netherlands. Ironically it did not chart in the UK, his home country.

Later in 1970 Aretha Franklin released her soulful gospel flavored rendition of the song. In the US she fared much better than Elton reaching #37. She also placed the song on the US R&B chart at #5 and reached #35 in Canada.

25. Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" (1973)

Parent Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Elton really hit the piano with this song. His aggressive rapid-fire style gave the song a rock and roll energy that stood out amongst his other hits of the time. I always felt "Crocodile Rock" and "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" complimented each other well.

24. "Curtains" (1975)

Parent Album: Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy

The closing song on the album "Curtains" is a beautiful remembrance of relationships and the lamentation of the end of those relationships during the climb of Bernie and Elton’s career. The song reflects their sadness of leaving behind a simpler existence as they became worldwide superstars.

Rick's Note: Had they released a second single from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy I would have chosen "Curtains" to be it.

23. "Idol" (1976)

Parent Album: Blue Moves

This hidden gem allows the emotion and ethos in Elton's voice to take center stage. At times Elton inflects a bit of jazz intonations into his vocal performance.

This song is thought to be about Elvis Presley, but this has not yet been confirmed.

22. "Come Down in Time" (1970)

Parent Album: Tumbleweed Connection

This is one of Elton's most beautiful and haunting songs. The whole song is remarkable with its unique chord patterns. Bernie's lyrics reach in and bring the listener to a place of melancholy and joy both at the same time. Elton turns in a remarkably restrained and beautiful musical and vocal performance that sets the mood for what is one of his best songs ever.

21. "Levon" (1971)

Parent Album: Madman Across the Water

This was Elton's third Top 40 hit of his career and the first single released from his album Madman Across the Water. Despite only peaking at #24 on the US chart the song achieved gold status by the RIAA.

According to Gus Dudgeon, who produced this classic track, Bernie Taupin was inspired by The Band's co-founder, drummer and singer Levon Helm and named the song after him. The Band was apparently Elton's and Bernie's favorite group at the time. Bernie denies the song was about Helm.

20. Grey Seal (1973)

Parent Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

From Elton's biggest selling album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," this is one of eight songs from the album appearing on this list.

"Grey Seal" was not released as a single, but it had enough commercial appeal to become a hit.

"Grey Seal" was originally recorded and released in 1970 as the B-side to the non-album single "Rock and Roll Madonna." Elton re-recorded the song in 1973 for inclusion on his album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." The 1973 recording has full orchestration and a more aggressive sound.

19. Tiny Dancer (1971)

Parent Album: Madman Across the Water

"Tiny Dancer" is an early Elton John classic. It was his 5th song to appear on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles, it just missed the top 40 by a fraction of an onch reaching #41. Despite only reaching #41 in the U.S. the single has been certified triple Platinum by the RIAA. In the UK the song peaked at #70 in 2015 and has been certified Platinum by the BPI.

Interestingly Nigel Olsson appears on the song, but not as the drummer, he's credited as a background singer. It wasn't until the 1972 album, "Honky Chateau" that Nigel became Elton's official drummer.

Bernie Taupin states that he wrote the lyric of "Tiny Dancer" about Maxine Feibelmann, who was his girlfriend at the time. She was a ballerina and traveled with the band on their early tours.

18. Song for Guy (1978)

Parent Album: A Single Man

I would have to say of any Elton John single this is the one I played the most at the time of its release. I would play that little 7" single over and over listening in the headphones. Elton's piano was mesmerizing. The song is mostly an instrumental, but it was that haunting vocal at the end that really got me, "life isn't everything, isn't everything, isn't everything." I would sing that line over and over.

Elton wrote and recorded this song on Sunday afternoon, August 18, 1978. He had imagined himself floating in space and looking down on his own body. Elton was obsessed with these thoughts and wrote this song about death. The very next day he learned that Guy Burchett, a 17-year-old messenger for Elton's label, Rocket Records, had been killed that very afternoon in a motorcycle accident. Guy died when Elton was writing this song.

Rick's Note: I absolutely love this song. It is one of my all-time favorites by any musician.

17. "Razor Face" (1971)

Parent Album: Madman Across the Water

"Razor Face" was released as the B-Side to "Tiny Dancer."

Elton's blues-tinged arrangement lends an appropriate grit to Bernie Taupin's lyric about a homeless man who is getting on in age.

16. Your Song (1970)

Parent Album: Elton John

"Border Song" was Elton's debut appearance onto the US singles chart reaching #92 on Billboard's Hot 100, it was the classic "Your Song," that established Elton in the US and around the world. It was Elton's first song to make it onto the Adult Contemporary chart reaching #8.

It's interesting to know that "Your Song" was initially released as the b-side to "Take Me To The Pilot," but it was "Your Song" that disc jockeys preferred and the song began climbing the charts making it US #9. The song also made it to #3 in Canada, #3 in Netherland, #7 in the UK and charted well throughout the world.

15. Harmony (1973)

Parent Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

"Harmony" was considered for release as a fourth single from "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." It would have followed " Bennie and the Jets," but it would have been too close to release of the next album, "Caribou," so the record company nixed the idea. However the song was used as the B-Side of "Bennie & The Jets" in the US and in the UK as the B-Side of "Pinball Wizard."

I have always felt MCA should have taken the chance and they should have released "Harmony" between "Bennie & The Jets and "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me." Elton John's popularity was riding high at that moment and he could have had three Top 3 hits with in that four month span.

14. Island Girl (1975)

Parent Album: Rock of the Westies

"Island Girl" was one of my favorite songs of 1975. As a matter of fact it's easy to say that Elton John was my favorite male vocalist of the year. Now for the decade of the 70s, its a toss-up between Elton John, Paul McCartney, and Stevie Wonder.

"Island Girl" is one of my favorites due to its rhythm and catchy pop hooks. The song has such a natural perfect pop flow to it and Elton's dynamic lead vocal sets the song on fire.

13. I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues (1983)

Parent Album: Too Low For Zero

Elton John was amazing. Here it was 1983, some would say seven years past his prime and he was still churning a consistent line of hits throughout the entire decade of the 1980s.

"I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues," is a classic love song of the highest grade. It was one of Elton's biggest hits of the decade reaching #1 in Zimbabwe, #4 in Australia, South Africa and the US, #5 in the UK, #9 in Canada and in the Top 20 in several other countries around the world. The song did especially well on the Adult Contemporary charts reach #1 AC in Canada and #2 AC in the US.

There's a lot to love about this song; the fine musicianship, the well-crafted lyrics, Elton's superb vocals, and the highlight of highlights - Stevie Wonder's sublime harmonica - boy do I ever love Stevie Wonder.

12. Honky Cat (1972)

Parent Album: Honky Château

In our household "Honky Cat" and "Crocodile Rock" went hand in hand. They were both fun upbeat songs and both songs had a name an animal in the title (though neither song was about an animal).

"Honky Cat" had a great boogie woogie rhythm with a great horn section. Davey Johnstone, generally the band's guitarist, played the banjo and he nailed it adding a dixieland verve to an already lively song. But best of all; Elton's saloon style acoustic piano blended with a modern sounding electric piano, an effect that gave the song a sound that glittered and rocked at the same time. Let's not forget those vocals, Elton knocked out the park with an energetic blues filled rock lead vocal that hoist him to the top of the charts and an incomparable respect from music critics.

11. "I Want Love" (2001)

Parent Album: Songs From the West Coast

Late one night in the fall of 2001, I was channel surfing and came upon a music video that caught my interest. It had me somewhat confused. It was Robert Downey, Jr. singing. I'm like, "No way, Robert Downey, Jr. sings that good. So, I thought maybe it's someone that looks like him. I watched the video to the end hoping they would have the name of the artist, but they didn't and the next video started which was "Last Good Day of the Year" by a band named Cousteau. I became a big Cousteau fan that night - but that's a story for another day. The next evening the same channel played the video again and this time I saw it from the beginning to see that it was "I Want Love" by Elton John. The music video seemed to be fairly popular on MTV and VH1 but for some reason the song did not fare well in the United States.

Despite its poor showing on the US charts, "I Want Love," was nominated for a Grammy Award. James Taylor won thecaward that year. The song was a Top 10 hit in both the UK and Canada.

Rick's Note: "I Want Love" is one of my very favorite songs by Elton John.

10. "Crocodile Rock" (1972)

Parent Album: Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player

This was the family favorite from that old 8-track tape. "Crocodile Rock" would come on and the entire family perked up and sang along.

This was one of Bernie Taupin's most clever lyrics, talking about a fictional dance called the Crocodile Rock. I like how Taupin referenced Bill Haley's "Rock Around The Clock," in the lyric; "While the other kids were rocking 'round the clock. We were hopping and bopping to the Crocodile Rock, well."

9. "Daniel" (1973)

Parent Album: Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player

"Daniel" is one of the best songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, the lyrics are poignant and meaningful and the melody is memorable. The song is one of Elton John's biggest hits having reched #4 in the UK, #2 in the US and #1 in Canada.

Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics about a Vietnam War veteran who had been wounded, and wanted to get away from the attention he was receiving when he went back home. He just wanted to get back to normal life.

8. "Candle in the Wind" (1973)

Parent Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

This song was a classic long before it became Princess Diana's song. Originally "Candle In The Wind" was written in tribute to Marilyn Monroe, the opening line, "Goodbye Norma Jean," refers to her birth name.

The original version of this melodic, soul-stirring ballad was never released as a single in the US, instead "Bennie and the Jets" was released. I have always been of the belief that "Candle in the Wind" would have soared to the top of the charts had it been released in the US. The song was a single in the UK where it reached #11.

As a Sidenote: Elton re-recorded this song in 1997 to commemorate the death of Princess Diana. Upon its release the song shot to number one around the world remaining in the top spot for multiple weeks - in the US 14 weeks, in the UK 5 weeks, Australia 6 weeks. In Canada the song spent 46 non-consecutive weeks at #1.

In the Guinness World Records book, the song is listed as the second best-selling single worldwide off all-time with 33 million copies sold. The 1997 version of this song appears at #41 on the Bubbling Under section of this list.

7. "I Feel Like A Bullet (In The Gun Of Robert Ford)"(1975)

Parent Album: Rock of the Westies

"I Feel Like A Bullet" has always been one of my favorite songs mostly because of Elton's vocal performance. He puts a lot of heart into this song and hits those higher notes with a soulful perfection.

The song was released as a double A-Side single with "Grow Some Funk Of Your Own." From what I recall "Grow Some Funk..." was the side that was being pushed, but it was "I Feel Like A Bullet" that received a sizable amount of airplay.

6. "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" (1975)

Parent Album: Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy

"Someone Saved My Life Tonight" was the only single released from the album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.

The song was a sizeable hit reaching #54 in Australia, #13 in New Zealand and #22 in the UK. It made its biggest impact in North America where in Canada it reached #3 and peaking at #4 in the US.

Going against the belief (in the 1970s) that to have a hit single the song must be around three minutes long, Elton refused to edit the 6 minute 45 second song. The song was released as a single at full length. Elton felt that due to the personal nature of the lyric he couldn't let any of it be cut out. The lyric references a time in 1968 when Elton unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide.

From Wikipedia: The lyric "And butterflies are free to fly" is a reference to a famous quote from Dickens' Bleak House: "I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies." A few years prior to the song's release, the same quotation had inspired the title of the 1972 American comedy-drama film Butterflies Are Free, an adaptation of the 1969 play of the same title by Leonard Gershe.

Rick's Note: This song has a very special place in my heart as it is the song that was playing when my brother Chris (Christopher) left for Urgent care to get help as he had been feeling sick. Unfortunately, he never made it back home and passed away on January 31, 2021.

5. "Rocket Man" (1972)

Parent Album: Honky Château

Does Elton John have a signature song? It's hard to pinpoint it to one song, because he has so many classic tunes, any of which could be considered his signature. But, if we were to narrow it down to one "Rocket Man" would be it.

"Rocket Man" has been used in other media quie a bit over the years and most recently the title of the 2019 biopic on Elton John's life starring Taron Egerton.

One connection to this song, I've always found interesting is that producer Gus Dudgeon also produced David Bowie's " Space Oddity." In "Rocket Man," Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics, "I miss the Earth so much I miss my wife." In "Space Oddity," Bowie sings, "Tell my wife I love her very much she knows." Finally while performing "Space Oddity" live, Bowie would sometimes call out, “Oh, Rocket Man!"

4. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (1973)

Parent Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is a classic amongst classics on so many levels including Bernie Taupin's lyrics, Del Newman's orchestral arrangement, and Elton John's lead vocals.

"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is one of Bernie Taupin's most symbolic lyrics. He it uses the symbolism of "the yellow brick road," which conjurs images of Dorothy and Toto leaving their small farm in Kansas and landing on this wonderful, magical yellow brick road which, when you reach the end, promises that your every wish will come true. Yet, Bernie Taupin's "yellow brick road" ends up in a darker place. In this song Bernie realizes the road to fame and fortune (as a rock star) is not as glamorous as he thought. There are record execs, charting out every move you make - you become their rock and roll slave. They buy you a penthouse apartment in every big city and they think they own you. Taupin likens the "big-wig" execs to worthless mongrels (dogs) who are waiting for the tidbits - the scraps that fall off his table so they can get rich off his talent. Taupin learned from the school od hard knocks that maybe that simple life ploughing the fields on the farm wasn't so bad afterall.

The sweeping strings arrangement, created by Del Newman, encapsulates both an orchestral sound bringing forth a deep beauty which sweeps over the listener and enough swirling movement which brings out a psychedelia aspect of the music.

Then there's Elton John's vocals. Arguably, this is one of Elton's best vocal performances of his career. His voice blends beautifully with the orchestration and he sings with comfort and ease. He sings these lyrics as if he wrote them himself - he lives the words with his voice. I'm not certain how their songwriting process went, but it seems Bernie often kept Elton in mind while writing the lyrics.

3. "Bennie and the Jets" (1973)

Parent Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

For a while I ran around calling this one my favorite Elton John song. I don't know if it was the mention of "mohair boots" or Elton John big sounding keyboard parts - whatever it was - I fell in love with this song and have kept on loving it ever since.

The interesting thing about this song is that black radio stations latched on to the song and began playing it heavily. The song even made to #15 on the US R&B chart.

2. "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" (1974)

Parent Album: Caribou

One of the main things that attracts me to Elton John's music is Bernie Taupin's lyrics. Taupin finds unique ways to craft his phrases. Instead of simply saying "I love you," Taupin makes a statement like "don't discard me," one of the songs best lyrics.

Del Newman, who composed the orchestral arrangement for "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," is back again. This time Newman provides a hot and thick horn arrangement which comes to life toward the end with the Tower of Power horn section lending an understated funk and jazz offering.

Now let's touch on those vocals. Elton John has long been a fan of The Beach Boys' free flowing vocal harmonies. The Beach Boys happened to be recording at Caribou Ranch Studios in Colorado providing harmony vocals for Chicago's "Wishin' You Were There" amongst other projects. At this point Elton was recording his album "Caribou," cleverly named after the studio. Elton invited Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston (of The Beach Boys) record backing vocals on "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me." Toni Tennille (The Captain & Tennille) can also be heard in the backing vocals. Bruce Johnston was also employeed to construct the vocal arrangement with which Daryl Dragon (the Captain of Captain & Tenille) gave an assist. Daryl Dragon had been a keyboard player with The Beach Boys from 1967 to 1972.

As always Elton delivered one of his finest vocals with an effortless ease and dynamic range.

1. "Philadelphia Freedom" (1975)

Parent Album: Non-Album Single

Elton John admitted that "Philadelphia Freedom" was one of the few songs he wrote specifically to be a hit. And what a hit it was. The song raced to #1 in the US and stayed there for two weeks and remained on the chart for 21 weeks (near five months). It was also #1 in Canada, and a huge hit in Australia and New Zealand. The song broke musical barriers by making it to #34 on the US R&B chart. This was Elton's second of four hits on that chart.

Elton's inspiration for the song was tennis champ Billie Jean King. She and Elton became friends in the 1970s. During that time King had a World Tennis Team named Philadelphia Freedoms.

Elton gave the title "Philadelphia Freedom'' to lyricist Bernie Taupin and asked him to write a song around it. Taupin, who was not obliged to write a lyric about Billie Jean King, instead wrote about a dedication to the City of Botherly/Sisterly Love and living easy.

With lyrics such as "shine the light," the uplifting musical arrangement and Elton's energetic and enthusiastic lead vocal, "Philadelphia Freedom" gives a feeling of excitement and inspiration. This was one of the most bouyant and confident songs of 1975. Definitely fits into the feel-good category.

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About the Creator

Rick Henry Christopher

Writing is a distraction for me. It takes me to places unknown that fulfill my need for intellectual stimulus, emotional release, and a soothing of the breaks and bruises of the day.

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    Creative use of language & vocab

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran20 days ago

    As I expected, I don't know any of the songs here 😅 And I have no idea why but I got through this whole thing mistaking Elton John for Phil Collins. I Googled Elton John to see if I know any of his other songs and that's when I realise my mistake, lol!

  • I can't believe how much thought and time you put into these lists. I am in awe. This is definitely a Top Story! Now I'm off to read the "25 Greatest Songs of Stevie Wonder".

  • Babs Iverson26 days ago

    Woohoo loving the review!!!

  • This was excellent, love lists like this! And you did a magnificent job with compiling it all. So, I love plenty of Elton John songs, admittedly, I don't know all of them. So, there are definitely some on here I don't know (and will have to go check out.) I'm glad my favorites are on here, and I have to say I cannot quibble over the Top 10, because those are all among my favorites. Philadelphia Freedom probably is in my top 5, great choice for number 1. But I think every song I know by him and love, you included. That's perfect. And now you've given me some more to go listen to! Thanks!

  • Great Article Good bye Yellow brick road because I always thought Taupin wasn’t just using the title as a metaphor for life as a rock star but for elton himself. I believe at the time Taupin wrote it they had stopped working together

  • A wonderful jaunt down memory lane. This is a significant part of the soundtrack of my youth.

  • Great list! Your #2 is my #1 but strangely, my favorite version is the live George Michael version where Elton comes in as a guest singer.

  • JBaz27 days ago

    Exceptional artist, great tribute and this will cause controversy no matter the order. However I will add my two cents. No one ever pick “Last Song” one of the most beautiful and heart wrenching pieces of his career

  • Loryne Andawey27 days ago

    I only have passing knowledge of 7 of these songs 🤣. This must have been fun for you to write. Elton John has quite an impressive body of work. Well done!

  • Shane Dobbie27 days ago

    Tiny Dancer at 19! 19! 🤨

  • I always admire and respect all the music you know and music history that you’ve gathered. I feel like it’s becoming a lost art with my generation, to really delve deeper into an artist’s work (and not just their instagrams)

  • Lamar Wiggins27 days ago

    This was an EPIC article. It was so well done that it deserves to go places beyond vocal. It could easily be a feature for Rolling Stone mag. I’ve never owned an Elton John record. But even without reading this I could name at least 20 of his tracks, Thanks to the early days of MTV, radio, movies, ect. Just like you said. It’s also interesting how you said Benny and the Jets made it to rotation on black stations. It was the very first track I heard from Elton. My mother must have heard and liked it from an r&b station and bought the single on a 45. I remember her playing it. I was very young. It might be one of the first songs I ever remember hearing and liking. Once again, Great, entertaining read, Rick!

  • Paul Stewart27 days ago

    This was a great article, Rick! Lots of the obvious and definitely should be on any list type songs and deeper cuts too. I love that Benny and The Jets was so high on the list too. Personal favourites are Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting, Crocodile Rock, Sacrifice, Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man, Your Song (arguably one of my favourite love songs of all time), I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues and Benny and the Jets. Probably loads of others, but they are go-tos! Nice work and enjoyed your personal input, research and knowledge!

  • Donna Renee27 days ago

    This was really great, Rick!! I can tell you researched this article in incredible depth and I loved the notes (Your note on #6 especially, so very sad ❤️😢). I learned a LOT from this! Loved your picks here too, “Your Song” has been a favorite of mine for a long time.

  • Nice Article Rick❤️😉📝My Fav Is “Rocket man🚀

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