Elton John’s “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” Lyrics Meaning

“Someone Saved My Life Tonight” is based on a real-life experience and has a rich, detailed history. Also, with such iconic songwriters behind its composition, the lyrics have really deep and profound meaning. But for the sake of not pulling more out of the track than is actually there, we will stick to its most-basic interpretation.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Elton John's Someone Saved My Life Tonight at Lyrics.org.

Elton John himself is the central character of the song. And it centers on his emotional state during a certain period, in the late 1960s. In fact during this time, Elton apparently made a half-hearted attempt to take his own life. And it was co-writer Bernie Taupin who intervened and saved him. Yet that particular story is not what this song is based on, even if certain lyrics may reference that incident.

Rather, it was his engagement to a lady named Linda Woodrow which takes center stage in “Someone Saved My Life”. Succinctly put, despite being already committed to Linda, John was not feeling the idea of marrying her. Indeed that’s the primary sentiment which most of the lyrics of this song, in one way or another, express.

Fandom has concluded that the reason Elton didn’t have the appetite for marriage is because he was the point where he was beginning to realize his homosexuality.  However, the lyrics do not seem to imply such. Instead they depict the woman he was committed to as domineering and someone who he simply was not interested in.

John resorted to friends to help with the anxiety he was feeling towards getting married. One in particular – a former bandmate named Long John Baldry – convinced him, over quite a few drinks, not to get hitched. This particular story is never told within the song. However, it is Baldry who the singer is actually acknowledging as the person who ‘saved his life’.

So in summation, the singer is expressing two major sentiments in this song. First is that, put bluntly, he was not in love with the someone he was bound to marry. And second is that he is eternally grateful to “sugar bear” (aka Long John Baldry) for preventing him from actually doing so.

Lyrics of "Someone Saved My Life" by Elton John

Facts about “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”

The song fared well in both countries, peaking at number 22 on the UK Singles Chart and number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.  It also did extremely-well in Canada, reaching number 2 on RPM Top Singles.

“Someone Saved My Life Tonight” is relatively-lengthy, possessing a duration of almost seven minutes.  However, due to the deeply-personal story being told in the lyrics, Elton John did not want to shorten it.

As alluded to earlier, Elton did actually break off his wedding to Linda Woodrow in 1970. Of course she did not take this news well at the time but has since moved on, not having any beef with John.  However, reportedly her feelings for Bernie Taupin, who wrote the track’s lyrics, are a bit-different, as she is not impressed with the way he portrayed her in the song.

Elton John wrote the music to this song aboard a cruise ship called the SS France. Thus he and Bernie Taupin share songwriting credits, as they do on so many other of his hits.

And the track was produced by another of his famous collaborators, Gus Dudgeon.

What was the release date of “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”?

This classic premiered on 19 May 1975 as part of Elton John’s album, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirty Cowboy, with the entirety of that project being an autobiographical piece. About a month later, on 23 June 1975, MCA Records (United States) and DJM Records (United Kingdom) released it as the only single to be derived from that album.

Are there any covers of this song?

Yes, there are a lot of them. Some famous covers of “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” include the ones performed by the following artists:

  • Walter Jackson
  • Mumford & Sons

 Noted American rapper, Kanye West, used certain portions of this song in his 2007 track “Good Morning“. 

5 Responses

  1. Anthony Hughes says:

    I’ve been moved to tears.Im a 62 year old male.The song has struck a chord with me since the title dropped into my head this morning when awakening. Very profound in more ways than one.Elton John will effect others like me who are deep and reflective of life.

  2. Anthony Hughes says:

    Thank you.

    • Linz says:

      Me too, I get it. Moved me to tears today. After hearing it a hundred times, I’m now in a place I can hear with ears to hear.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I think Sugar Bear is a sarcastic reference to a possible pet name for the woman and notvBaldry.

  4. Eric says:

    I’m wondering if the song is about a particular bad event for him that involved alcohol and coca*ne. Listen to it again with this idea and see if it doesn’t make more sense this way.

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