These are the songs we’d want to hear if we were given the incredible task of selecting Sir Elton John’s one-off performance.
1. Your Song
This ballad, taken from Elton’s second self-titled album, was actually recorded first by Three Dog Night after he gave them permission to do so.
Bernie Taupin wrote the song’s lyrics after breakfast on the roof of 20 Denmark Street, London, where Elton worked for a music publishing firm as an office boy, inspiring the line: “I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss”.
Many artists, including Rod Stewart and Ellie Goulding, have covered it since.
2. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
This song, from his seminal album of the same name, was inspired by the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, which both Elton and his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin had seen.
Elton made use of the imagery of the film and Dorothy’s journey to relate to his own life as his desire to “get back to [his] roots”.
3. Rocket M
This song was inspired by Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Rocket Man,” as well as Taupin’s sighting of either a shooting star or a distant airplane.
It describes a Mars-bound astronaut’s conflicted feelings about leaving his family for an extended period of time. It has been used to wake up real-life NASA astronauts on numerous occasions, including the 40th and 45th anniversaries of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing.
4. I Guess that’s why they Call it the Blues
This was one of Elton John’s biggest hits in the 1980s, and it features Stevie Wonder on harmonica.
It has since been covered by James Blunt, as well as in a duet with Elton and Mary J Blige.
5. Tiny Dancer
Despite the fact that it was never released as an official single in the United Kingdom, this song has become one of Elton’s most popular.
Taupin wrote the lyrics to the piano ballad in an attempt to capture the mood of California in 1970, and it was dedicated to his first wife, Maxine Feibelman.
This was Elton’s first solo number-one single in the United Kingdom. It has been described as a “bookend” to “Your Song” by Elton and Taupin.
Taupin also called it the “best song” he’d ever written, and it’s about a marriage breakup where the loss of the relationship is “no sacrifice.”
It was given new life when it was sampled and covered in Elton John’s 2021 song ‘Cold Heart,’ which went to number one that year.
7. I Want Love
Elton returned to his piano-based musical roots with this Grammy-nominated song, which appeared on his Songs from the West Coast album.
Sam Taylor-Wood directed the music video, which featured a pre-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr lip-syncing to the song. The entire video is one long shot that follows Downey Dr from one room to the next in a large empty house.
8. Something About the Way You Look Tonight
This song was packaged as a double-A side single with Elton’s tribute to Princess Diana, ‘Candle in the Wind 1997’, which became the best-selling single of all time worldwide.
The video features actors from the UK TV drama This Life, as well as supermodels Kate Moss and Sophie Dahl.
9. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
In this song, Elton sings to a friend who has helped him but is now being rejected. Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys provide backing vocals.
George Michael performed a live version with Elton as a surprise guest in 1991, and it went to number one.
10. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting
This rocker is a glam-infused throwback to early rock and roll songs. The song follows a wild night out in town.
It was inspired by Taupin’s wild adolescence and various fist fights at his local pub. The Who, Queen, and even Nickelback have all covered it.