Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” Lyrics Meaning

In “Candle in the Wind”, Elton John sings about the American actress, singer and model, Marilyn Monroe whose birth name was Norma Jeane Morteson.
Elton details how she rose to fame and the significant change of her name as a result of her budding career.

He portrays her as a strong person who held herself together unlike her peers. The singer’s main message is that Norma suffered through a lot of hardships, exposed to the celebrity lifestyle at a tender age, and died even before she could reach the peak of her career.

He uses “Candle in the wind” to depict her vulnerability and short-lived success when she died at age 36.

Lyrics "Candle in the Wind"

Writing Credits for “Candle in the Wind”

Elton John and his musical partner, Bernie Taupin, wrote this track as a tribute to iconic American actress Marilyn Monroe (1928-1962).

When did “Candle in the Wind” come out?

MCA Records alongside DJM Records released “Candle in the Wind” on 5 October 1973. It was single number 2 from Elton’s iconic “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album. It has since been featured on a few of Elton John’s compilation and live albums.

FYI, another notable single from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is the hit single “Bennie and the Jets“.

Notable Live Renditions of “Candle in the Wind”

A live rendition of this song which was recorded on 14 December 1986 and was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Pop Vocal Performance – Malecategory.

Elton also performed the track at the Farm Aid IV benefit concert on 7 April 1990. This performance was specifically in honor of young HIV/AIDS hero Ryan White (1971-1990), who passed away the following day.

Tribute to Princess Diana

Elton and Taupin redid the song in 1997, with the revised version instead serving as a tribute to Princess Diana (1961-1997). It should be noted that Elton John was one of Diana’s very close friends. Her tragic and sudden death really left him devastated.

The lyrics of “Candle in the Wind” were revised specifically so that Elton John would be allowed to perform it at the funeral of Princess Diana, which took place on 6 September 1997.  In fact he and Bernie Taupin modified the lyrics just hours before the service began.

The 1997 version proved to be a massive hit, topping the music charts in over a dozen countries globally, including the following:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • United States  

In other words it went number-one around the world.

Moreover the song also managed to go multi-platinum in over half of those countries and took home a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1998. Indeed this track has been called the best-selling single in the history of the UK and US music charts.

In addition, Elton John donated a whopping £38 million to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, which was money he generated via the sales of this song.

Who produced “Candle in the Wind”?

The original version of “Candle in the Wind” was produced by Elton John’s regular collaborator, Gus Dudgeon. And the production responsibilities on the 1997 version were handled by George Martin.

Notable Covers of “Candle in the Wind”

This classic by Elton John has been covered by a number of prominent artists, including Wham! (1986), Kate Bush (1991), Billy Joel (1994) and Ed Sheeran (2014).

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