Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting

"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" (sometimes written "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)") is a song originally recorded by British musician Elton John. John composed it with his long-time songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. It was released on John's best-selling album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973) and as the first single. The song is one of John's most critically and commercially successful singles, a No. 7 hit record in the United Kingdom. It has been covered by many artists and featured on motion picture, video game, and television soundtracks.

"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting"
Elton john Saturday Night's Alright for Fightingq (3).jpg
Single by Elton John
from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
B-side
  • "Jack Rabbit"
  • "Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again)"
ReleasedJune 1973 (1973-06)
Format7-inch record
RecordedMay 1973
StudioChâteau d'Hérouville, France
Genre
Length
  • 4:57 (album version)
  • 4:12 (single version)
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Gus Dudgeon
Elton John singles chronology
"Daniel"
(1973)
"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting"
(1973)
"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"
(1973)

Background and inspirationEdit

"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" is a lively throwback to early rock and roll with a glam edge. The lyrics discuss a night out in town in which the narrator plans to "get about as oiled as a diesel train". Taupin has said that the song was meant to be an American rock and roll song set in Britain. It was inspired by his raucous teenage days and in particular, the fistfights in his local pub, the Aston Arms in Market Rasen.[2]

Composition and recordingEdit

The song, which showcases the guitar playing of Davey Johnstone, with lyrics by Bernie Taupin and music by John, is written in the key of G mixolydian alternating with C mixolydian on the chorus. It is one of John's harder-rocking songs (similar to "Grow Some Funk of Your Own" and "The Bitch Is Back"), with a sound echoing bands such as The Who and The Rolling Stones (The Who covered it in 1991).

It was the only song recorded during Elton and the band's time in Jamaica, where they had initially planned to record the album, but was never used due to the poor quality of the recording equipment. John described it as sounding like "it had been recorded on the worst transistor radio". The experience prompted the band to return to France to finish the album.

"Saturday" is one of the most aggressive and lively rock inspired tracks ever recorded by John. It features energetic, rapid-fire piano playing reminiscent of Jerry Lee Lewis. The song was one of the few John-Taupin songs that Elton said was not a "typical piano number". According to John's recollection in Elizabeth Rosenthal's His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John, it may have been written on the piano at first, but the song ended up being recorded somewhat in reverse to the normal way he records, with the band putting their tracks down, and Elton overdubbing his piano afterward. (John's typical process was to either record the piano first or play along with the band.) Elton called the song "hard to record".

Billboard found the song to be a cross between John's earlier single "Crocodile Rock" and the Rolling Stones' single "Street Fighting Man," suggesting that it may be a parody of the Rolling Stones but regardless is a "great fun record."[3]

Apart from his lyrical contributions, in the Eagle Vision documentary, Classic Albums: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Taupin said that a lot of the power of the song comes from the chords, adding it also features what he called one of the greatest "strident, blistering guitar chords ever created" in rock and roll.

Release, chart and live performanceEdit

The song was released in 1973 as the album's first single. It was banned on many radio stations fearing that the title would incite violence.

In the UK, the song entered the Music Week Top 50 the week of 7 July 1973, rose to No. 7, and stayed in the charts for 9 weeks.

In the US, the song entered the Billboard Top 40 the week of 11 August 1973, rose to No. 12, and stayed in the Top 40 for nine weeks. It was the only single by Elton John that failed to make the Top 10 in the three-year, 13-hit period between May 1972 ("Rocket Man") and October 1975 ("Island Girl"). It was the only Elton John single that failed to go gold or platinum in the three-year, 11-hit period between December 1972 ("Crocodile Rock") and October 1975 ("Island Girl").

Despite only being a modest success compared to his other hits, it remains one of his best-known songs.

Chart (1973) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart 7
US Billboard Hot 100 12

The song has been a staple of the artist's live performances for many years, being played more than 1,300 times live (making it one of John's top ten most performed tracks in his entire discography) as of December 2015.[4]

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[5] Silver 200,000 
United States (RIAA)[6] Gold 500,000 

 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone

LegacyEdit

"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" has been covered by W.A.S.P.,[7] Flotsam and Jetsam, Nickelback (with Kid Rock and Dimebag Darrell), Queen, The Who,[8] Fall Out Boy, Verbal Abuse, and several others. It has also been sampled in the hit "Gloria" by Umberto Tozzi in 1979.[9]

Among other appearances, song was featured in the film Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) and the video game Grand Theft Auto V.[10] There was a musical number dedicated to the song in the Elton John biographical film Rocketman (2019).[11] Another cover of the song was performed by Camila Mendes and Casey Cott, in the episode "Chapter Sixty-Six: Tangerine" from the television series Riverdale.[12]

Track listingEdit

All songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin

Side oneEdit

  1. "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" – 4:12

Side twoEdit

  1. "Jack Rabbit" – 1:50
  2. "Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again)" – 2:50

Both songs were included later on "Rare Masters" and issued as bonus tracks on the remastered edition of "Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player".

PersonnelEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Freeman, Phil (2007). Marooned: The Next Generation of Desert Island Discs. Hachette Books. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-30681-640-6.
  2. ^ "Aston Arms Pub". On This Very Spot. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  3. ^ "Top Single Picks" (PDF). Billboard. 21 July 1973. p. 75. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  4. ^ "Elton John Tour Statistics". Setlist.fm. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  5. ^ "British single certifications – Elton John – Saturday Nights Alright for Fighting". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  6. ^ "American single certifications – Elton John – Saturday Night's Alright (for Fighting)". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 1 May 2020. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  7. ^ "W.A.S.P, The Best of the Best: 1984–2000, Vol. 1". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  8. ^ "The Who, Thirty Years of Maximum R&B". TheWho.com. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  9. ^ Bonomi, Ilaria; Coletti, Vittorio. L'Italiano della musica nel mondo (in Italian). Accademia della Crusca. p. 186. ISBN 8-86-797423-8.
  10. ^ "Grand Theft Auto V Soundtracks". IMDb. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  11. ^ "Rocketman Soundtracks". IMDb. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  12. ^ "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting) by Camila Mendes & Casey Cott (From Riverdale: Season 4) – Single". Spotify. Retrieved 15 December 2019.

External linksEdit