Elton John’s “Healing Hands” Lyrics Meaning
We can say something like “Healing Hands” is Elton John’s version of a breakup song. But it isn’t about being overcome with associated, depressed emotions as similarly-themed tunes tend to be, even though there’s plenty of such sentiment contained therein also.
For as expected, the singer is in fact devastated by the loss of the person he loved. This is what is being most-pointedly relayed in the actual verse.
In fact as far as heartbreak tunes go, said passages feature some of the most eloquent language ever put forth by a pop musician to express such feelings – a testament to the lyrical proficiency of Bernie Taupin.
However as indicated by the pre-chorus, the singer isn’t just taking it like that. In other words, he’s not going to simply let such emotions overwhelm him – or ‘give into the nightmare’ as he says.
Yes, he is mature enough to understand that he was so deeply in love that there “ain’t no cure for the pain”, i.e. some of the associated feelings may remain with him forever.
And he also knows that a conscientious effort must be made “to learn to live again”, as in not letting this situation steal the intrinsic pleasure of life from him.
And in relaying such he even uses terminology, “wade in the water”, which is associated with baptism. Interesting to note is that according to the aforementioned Bernie Taupin, this song was designed to contain a religious element.
Title (Healing Hands)
And that brings us to the title of the song. The titular “healing hands” are symbolic of said religious experience, i.e. the singer overcoming his heartbreak via some type of supernatural intervention, if you will.
Or rather let’s say that it represents an ideology. The “healing hands” and the lady who possesses them are most likely not meant to be taken literally. Rather what they symbolize is the singer’s hope for redemption from heartbreak and arguably even more importantly the fact that he perceives such as actually being possible.
Alternatively, it can be hypothesized that perhaps “her healing hands” indicate his hope for finding a new love – that once he does find a fresh, proper lady, she will get over his broken heart.
Or if nothing else, at least he is able to understand that one day he may come out of this “darkness” and into the “light”, though being the recipient of her “her helping hands” would be part and parcel of achieving this goal.
But all things considered, the first theory put forth is more plausible.
And at the end of the day this isn’t so much of a heartbreak song as it is one of encouragement. But obviously the audience it is meant to encourage in particular would be those who like the narrator are reeling from a failed romance.
And overall it can be said that this song is in fact religious in tone. However, instead of seeking redemption from a life of sin for instance, the narrator is rather hoping to be redeemed from a toxic relationship.
Sir Elton John
Elton John is perhaps the most-famous solo musician in British history. In fact he is technically “Sir” Elton John and holds a few of the highest civilian honors on can achieve across the pond.
Moreover he’s been professionally active since 1962, which is more than likely before most people reading this post were even born.
And those familiar with his career would probably agree that his musical heyday was during the 1970s, when he dropped major albums such as:
- “Caribou” (1974)
- “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy” (1975)
In fact during 1973 alone the Rocketman came out with two albums which both hit number 1 in Britain and America, if you can imagine that! The said albums are:
- “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player”
- “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
Yet “Healing Hands” (along with “Sacrifice“, its mutual A-side, which greatly contributed to its success), a song that didn’t come out until 5 July 1989 and is featured all the way on his 22nd studio album, was the first time he actually topped the UK Singles Chart on his own.
That is to say that he had done so once prior in 1976 with “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”. However, that song was a collaboration with Kiki Dee, not an actual solo joint.
And just to also note, “Healing Hands” was placed as high as number three on the UK Singles Chart year-end listening for 1990.
The album which this song is derived from is called “Sleeping With the Past”. And whereas Sir John’s heyday may have verily been in the 1970s, he experienced a major renaissance period during the 1990s.
And that particular album did top the UK Albums Chart in addition to achieving platinum or better certification in a number of nations, including the United States.
Writing and Recording of “Healing Hands”
This track was written and produced by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Taupin has been with the Rocketman practically since day one and is considered to be one of the greatest songwriters in history.
And the producer of the track is Chris Thomas, a lesser-known name in the game yet with an impressive résumé nonetheless. And he was involved in other Elton John hits, including:
- “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” (1983)
- “Circle of Life” (1994) from the original Disney The Lion King film
The composition of this song was indeed influenced by musical acts from the past, as the title of the album it is featured on suggests.
For instance, Taupin’s goal with “Healing Hands” was to create “an updated version of… “Reach Out I’ll Be There””, a song which The Four Tops dropped in 1966.
And as far as Elton is concerned, he elaborated that he was inspired by the sounds of The Impressions. The Impressions are another African-American singing group dating back to the 1950s.
Although Elton and Bernie are both from the UK, home of some of the most-renowned music studios in the world, they opted to undertake this particular album in Denmark.
That was because they had developed the habit of not frequenting the same studios, as they felt using different locations minimized distractions and encouraged creativity.
And in this case they actually recorded “Sleeping With the Past” in Puk Studios, which is found in nearby Denmark. And we guess we can say relatedly, said project did go on to become Elton John’s highest-selling album as far as the country of Denmark is concerned.