Pretty much everyone would like a love song (or any song) written to or about them. Even Warren Beattie and Mick Jagger didn’t mind too much standing in line to take the credits on Carly Simon’s pointed You’re So Vain.

But most of us have to make do with someone else doing all the hard work for us – so surely the next best thing is to make a song sound like it could have been written by anyone and likewise could be written about anyone.
One step forward then for Elton John and long time collaborator Bernie Taupin’s timeless love ballad Your Song. The title says it all. It’s your song. Nobody else’s.

It’s stood the test of time as one of the best ever love songs – not to mention being used twice as the soundtrack to the John Lewis Christmas tv campaign (2010 by Ellie Goulding and 2018 by Sir Elton himself).

On closer examination though it’s also one of the most lyrically banal odes to romance ever to grace the charts (and there have been some lulus).

Bernie Taupin seems to agree and is quoted as saying: “The early ones {songs} were not drawn from experience but imagination. Your Song could only have been written by a 17-year-old who’d never been laid in his life.”

Sir Elton has mixed feelings. In a 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, he elaborated: “What can I say, it’s a perfect song. It gets better every time I sing it. I remember writing it at my parents’ apartment in North London, and Bernie giving me the lyrics, sitting down at the piano and looking at it and going, ‘Oh, my God, this is such a great lyric, I can’t fuck this one up.’ It came out in about 20 minutes, and when I was done, I called him in and we both knew. I was 22, and he was 19, and it gave us so much confidence. Empty Sky was lovely, but it was very naive. We went on to do more esoteric stuff like Take Me to the Pilot, of course, but musically, this was a big step forward. And the older I get, the more I sing these lyrics, and the more they resonate with me.”
All well and good but the song starts out like an ode to indigestion: “It’s a little bit funny this feeling inside” before desperately explaining “I’m not one of those who can easily hide,

I don’t have much money but boy if I did
I’d buy a big house where we both could live.
If I was a sculptor but then again no
Or a man who makes potions in a traveling show
Oh I know it’s not much but it’s the best I can do.”
Given that potion selling was, even in the late 1960s and early 1970s a niche profession, it’s as well he gets round to admitting: “My gift is my song
And this one’s for you
And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind
That I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.”

That’s more like it. Simple yet sound. Get out now whilst the going is good. But no, he/they have more to say:
“I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss” {apparently Taupin wrote the song’s lyrics after having breakfast on the roof of 20 Denmark Street, where Elton worked for a music publishing firm as an office boy.} and then “Well a few of the verses, well they’ve got me quite cross

But the sun’s been quite kind
While I wrote this song.
It’s for people like you that
Keep it turned on “
Get out. Get out. Get out. Too late………:“So excuse me forgetting but these things I do
You see I’ve forgotten
If they’re green or they’re blue.” What??? Save yourself! You could be ruining your future career.
But just time they do: “Anyway the thing is what I really mean
Yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen
And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but
Now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind
That I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind
That I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.”

That’s more like it, “sweetest eyes”, always a winner. Cue untold numbers of suitors getting down on one knee with a ring in their hand and a song in their throat.

So who is the “your” in Your Song? Elton hadn’t come out of the closet yet, but Bernie Taupin knew it was already bursting at the seams, which is part of the reason why the lyrics avoid using gendered pronouns.
Elton has said that this song is not about anyone in particular, and Taupin has refused to reveal the identity of the person, if they even exist. He told Rolling Stone: “I always thought Your Song was written about one of his girlfriends, and when I asked him that, he just said, ‘No it wasn’t!’ He gets fairly defensive.”

He told Music Connection in 1989: “It’s like the perennial ballad Your Song, which has got to be one of the most naïve and childish lyrics in the entire repertoire of music, but I think the reason it still stands up is because it was real at the time.
“That was exactly what I was feeling. I was 17 years old and it was coming from someone whose outlook on love or experience with love was totally new and naïve.”

It originally appeared on Elton’s self-titled second studio album (which was released in 1970). The song was released in the United States in October 1970 as the B-side to Take Me to the Pilot. Both songs received airplay, but Your Song was preferred by disc jockeys and replaced Take Me to the Pilot as the A-side, eventually making it to number eight on the Billboard chart. The song also peaked at number seven in the UK, as well as charting in the top 10 in several other countries.

But Your Song was actually first released by American rock band Three Dog Night in March 1970 on their third studio album, It Ain’t Easy. Elton was an opening act for them for a while and they didn’t release it as a single as they wanted to let him, then an upcoming artist, have a go with it.

Like with most Elton songs, he wrote the melody while Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics. It was one of the first songs they wrote together. They met after a record company gave Elton some of Taupin’s lyrics to work with.
Eventually, they moved into Elton’s parents’ house, where they started working together. The original lyrics have coffee stains on them.

In 1998, Your Song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2004 the song was placed at number 137 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, as well as in its 2010 list.
The song has been covered by a number of artists, including Ellie Goulding, whose version reached number two in the UK in late 2010, and Lady Gaga. The song was also covered by Ewan McGregor in the movie musical Moulin Rouge! and by Taron Egerton for the 2019 Elton John biopic movie Rocketman.

WRITERS: Elton John , Bernie Taupin
PRODUCER: Gus Dudgeon
GENRE: Pop, Soft Rock
ARTIST: Elton John
RELEASED 26 October 1970
COVERS Rod Stewart