Rocket Man: Elton John's 5 Greatest Characters

Categories: Nerd Alert

elton john and billy joel by dan kramer.jpg
Photo by Dan Kramer
Elton John (left) and friend Billy Joel at Toyota Center on 2009''s "Face to Face" tour
Great songwriters create great characters. Elton John has a plethora in his songs some real like Princess Diana, and others purely fictional. The stories he tells in his songs are what makes him one of the greatest artists ever to come from Great Britain.

His characterizations have even been celebrated on British television. In one episode of the hit BBC sitcom The Vicar of Dibley, the villagers of Dibley put on an "Elton John Fashion Show" -- with a rocket man, no less -- in anticipation of his rumored arrival.

5. Princess Diana in "Candle In the Wind" (1997 rerecorded version)

In 1997, tragedy struck both Elton John and Great Britain: Beloved Princess Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed were killed in a car crash in a tunnel in Paris. The tragedy struck John especially hard because he was close friends with the Princess, and he rearranged the lyrics to the 1973 song he wrote about Marilyn Monroe as a way to cope with her death.

For the new version, he changed the lyrics, especially the first verse that now begins "Goodbye England's rose. Since her death, John has vowed never to perform the song unless asked by Diana's sons Prince Harry and Prince William.

4. The Sister in "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock'n Roll)"

The sister described in "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock'n Roll)" is essentially a party girl. However, she is one that is loved by everyone and loves life. As the song says "I really got buzzed when your sister said/ "Throw away them records 'cause the blues is dead/ let me take you honey where the scene's on fire"/ and tonight I learned for certain that the blues expired.

3. The rebel in "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting"

Though one of his biggest hits is more about John's songwriting partner Bernie Taupin and his early years, it still describes a rebel -- like a British version of Happy Days' Fonzie --- from Happy Days) who frequently gets into fights at the local pub: "A couple of the sounds that I really like/ are the sounds of a switchblade and a motorbike."

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As a huge fan, while I appreciate this effort, I think this is a hugely lacking and lazy list.  Without even researching and off the top of my head, I can think of a big chunk of song subjects that are far more interesting and intricate than those you've mentioned.  And these are just from the hits!  There are even more exciting characters in the hundreds of B tracks of this rock legend.  If you're going to take the time to make this claim, please also make the effort to know the intimate inner workings of Sir Elton's colorful canon. 


1. Uh, the Rocket Man.  Perhaps his most famous and certainly a worthy subject.

2. Marilyn Monroe, the original subject of Candle.  Far more poignant, really.

3. Johnny (John Lennon) in the heartbreaking ballad Empty Garden.

4. DANIEL!  Come on!  Daniel.  What a beautiful tribute to filial love. 

5. The lucky, lusty love interest in I Guess that's Why...  Oh to be that girl.

6. Levon.  Cartoon balloon business, kid named Jesus, hangs out in a garage.  A truly remarkable picture.  

7. Little Jeannie, so innocent and sweet, sad and tragic.

8. Nikita, the ultimate unrequited love.  It rips my heart out every time. 

9. The electric chair princess in Someone Saved...  She makes the Bitch look like a little baby.

10. Finally...wait for it...wait for it...TINY DANCER!  An iconic, infamous, incredible number referenced daily in film, television and music to encompass the lost and lonely feeling of living your life in the industry.  


There are so many more, but these are the most obvious.  I can't believe someone bothered to make this list and didn't even think to include Tiny Dancer.  Looks like an EJ fan challenge! 



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