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Candle in the Wind

"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,[1] who had died 11 years earlier.

"Candle in the Wind"
Elton John - Candle in the Wind (1986).jpg
Cover of the 1986–87 live version
Single by Elton John
from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
B-side"Bennie and the Jets"
Released4 February 1974 (1974-02-04)
Format7-inch single
RecordedMay 1973
StudioChâteau d'Hérouville, France
Composer(s)Elton John
Lyricist(s)Bernie Taupin
Producer(s)Gus Dudgeon
Elton John singles chronology
"Step into Christmas"
"Candle in the Wind"
"Bennie and the Jets"

In 1997, John performed a rewritten version of the song as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales.

Original versionEdit

The original version 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 ("Bennie and the Jets" was chosen instead). Taupin was inspired to write the song after hearing the phrase "candle in the wind" used in tribute to Janis Joplin.

This version is ranked #347 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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 from AIDS complications the next day.



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[2] Silver 200,000 

 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone

1986 live versionEdit

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 throughout the song, which were likely provided by his touring keyboardist, Fred Mandel (although no other performer is credited on this track in the album's liner notes). 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[3] Nominated

1997 versionEdit

"Candle in the Wind 1997" or "Goodbye England's Rose" is a re-recording of "Candle in the Wind" as a tribute to Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales. Released in 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. The Guinness Book of Records in 2007 stated that "Candle in the Wind 1997" is the biggest-selling single "since records began", but that Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" has sold the most copies.[4] The record of this version was produced by George Martin.

2003 acoustic remixEdit

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.

Cover versionsEdit

Popular cultureEdit

  • In 1997, English satirist Chris Morris' radio comedy sketch show Blue Jam featured a sketch in which a man discovers a secret message if the 1997 version is played backwards, which says "Jesus and your bush. That's no titchy marrow."
  • In 1999, during the Season 4 Episode 3 Episode, "Bills are Made to Be Broken" of King of The Hill the character Bill Dauterive begins to sing his old high school's Alma Matter, only to find out from one of the players that the school changed it in 1997 to "Candle in the Wind". Bill then asked the coach, "Marilyn Monroe or England's Rose?"
  • In 2011, a song called "5,000 Candles In The Wind" was featured in the season 3 finale of the show Parks and Recreation, titled "Li'l Sebastian". It was played by Chris Pratt's character Andy Dwyer in a tribute concert for Li'l Sebastian, a recently deceased miniature horse beloved by the people of Pawnee. The song was written by Dwyer after Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) asked him to write a song that would be "Something like 'Candle In The Wind'... But 5,000 times better". The song was also played at the unity concert in the season 6 finale of the show.
  • "Candle in the Wind" is mentioned in the BoJack Horseman episode "Still Broken" by one of the show's main characters, Princess Carolyn (voiced by Amy Sedaris), who states "You know when someone dies, everyone wants to buy their shit?...You don't think Elton John was raking it in when Diana died? More like 'Candle in the Windfall'. Cha–ching!"
  • In 2017 this song was used in Polygon's Car Boys series featuring Nick Robinson and Griffin McElroy.
  • In an episode of South Park's 15th season, the Canadian band Rush sing a parody of the song, titled "Like a Flower Breaking Wind"
  • In an episode of “The Simpsons,” Krusty sings a parody called “Farewell Sideshow Bob.”


  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. ^ "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.
  3. ^ "Grammy Awards: Best Pop Vocal Performance - Male". Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  4. ^ "This Day in History: Dec 25, 1941: Bing Crosby introduces 'White Christmas' to the world". Archived from the original on 2 November 2012.
  5. ^ Wass, Mike (31 March 2014). "Ed Sheeran Covers Elton John's "Candle In The Wind": Listen To His Faithful Version". Idolator. SpinMedia. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  6. ^ Tribune Juive: Amir Haddad : chercher sa voix (in French)
  7. ^ Ynet: הישראלי עמיר חדד ב-"The Voice" צרפת (in Hebrew)