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"Candle in the Wind" is a threnody with music and lyrics by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. It was originally written in 1973, in honour of Marilyn Monroe,[1] who had died 11 years earlier.

In 1997, John performed a rewritten version of the song as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales. This version of the song was released as a single and reached No. 1 in many countries, proving a much greater success than the original, officially being listed as the second best-selling single of all time, behind Bing Crosby's "White Christmas".

Original version

The original version in the key of E major appeared on John's 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road recorded in May 1973 and released in 1974. The lyrics of the song are a sympathetic portrayal of the life of Marilyn Monroe. (The song's opening line "Goodbye, Norma Jean" refers to Monroe's real name, Norma Jeane (more commonly spelled Jean) Baker.) In the Eagle Vision documentary on the making of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Taupin said the song is about "the idea of fame or youth or somebody being cut short in the prime of their life. The song could have been about James Dean, it could have been about Montgomery Clift, it could have been about Jim Morrison ... how we glamorise death, how we immortalise people." The single release of the original song reached No. 11 in the UK charts in 1974. At the time, it was not released as a single in the United States ("Bennie and the Jets" was chosen instead). Taupin was inspired to write the song after hearing the phrase "candle in the wind" used in tribute to Janis Joplin.

This version is ranked #347 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. On the other hand, composer Gruff Rhys called it the worst song he had ever heard.[2]

During a concert on 7 April 1990, at Farm Aid IV, John dedicated the song to Ryan White, who had been suffering from AIDS. White died from AIDS complications the next day.


1986 live version

On 14 December 1986, a live version of the song was recorded in Sydney, Australia. It was released in 1987 on the album Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and as a single. In 1988, it reached number five on the UK Singles Chart and number six on the US Billboard Hot 100.


Grammy Awards

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Year Nominee / work Award Result
1988 "Candle in the Wind (live 1986)" Best Pop Vocal Performance – Male[3] Nominated

1997 version

Script error: No such module "main". "Candle in the Wind 1997" or "Goodbye England's Rose" is a re-recording of "Candle in the Wind" as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales. Released in 1997, the song peaked at No. 1 in the United Kingdom, becoming John's fourth No. 1 single. It also peaked at No. 1 in several other countries. The Guinness Book of Records in 2007 stated that "Candle in the Wind 1997" is the biggest-selling single "since records began", but that Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" has sold the most copies.[4] The record of this version was produced by George Martin.

2003 acoustic remix

Using the same vocal take as the original 1973 recording, engineer Greg Penny stripped away all instrumentation except Davey Johnstone's acoustic guitar. Even the double-tracking of the lead vocal was removed, leaving Elton and the original backing vocal arrangement of Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson and Davey Johnstone. The remix first appeared as a bonus track on the 30th Anniversary edition of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and subsequently on the 2003 EP Remixed.

Cover versions

Popular culture

  • In 2011, a song called "5,000 Candles In The Wind" was featured in the season 3 finale of the show Parks and Recreation, titled "Li'l Sebastian". It was played by Chris Pratt's character Andy Dwyer in a tribute concert for Li'l Sebastian, a recently deceased miniature horse beloved by the people of Pawnee. The song was written by Dwyer after Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) asked him to write a song that would be "Something like 'Candle In The Wind'... But 5,000 times better". The song was also played at the unity concert in the season 6 finale of the show.
  • "Candle in the Wind" is mentioned in the BoJack Horseman episode "Still Broken" by one of the show's main characters, Princess Carolyn (voiced by Amy Sedaris), who states "You know when someone dies, everyone wants to buy their shit?...You don't think Elton John was raking it in when Diana died? More like "Candle in the Windfall." Cha–ching!"


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  6. Tribune Juive: Amir Haddad : chercher sa voix Template:Fr icon
  7. Ynet: הישראלי עמיר חדד ב-"The Voice" צרפת Template:He icon

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External links

Lyrics of the original version:

and of the 1997 version:

Template:Elton John songs

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