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16 Sep 2008

The Story Behind "Candle In The Wind 1997"



On September 2, Elton got a call from businessman Richard Branson saying that princess' sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale wanted him to sing at the funeral service and he should be prepared, just in case. Elton phoned Bernie saying he needed something to sing at the funeral if this was approved, and mentioned the ubiquitousness of "Candle In The Wind" in British press and how Lady Diana liked the song.

Elton John thought Bernie Taupin's new lyrics was able to poignantly express the grief that the world was experiencing. "I tried to write it from a nation's standpoint and not as a singular person paying tribute" explained Bernie. On thursday 4th he was invited to sing at the funeral officially.

"Candle in the Wind 1997" means the difference between comfort and sorrow for those in real need, while the 1973 version was about the pressure of the Hollywood stardom and the final dying fall of a star. Unlike Marylin Monroe, Princess Diana was born to privilege, married into royalty and was willingly (for a time) sold as the fairy-tale symbol of a rotting institution. That she suffered in her marriage but used her position to help others is undeniable. And if Marylin was "whispered into her brain by traidmill operators", Diana "whispered to those in pain" who needed. It was said that the Royal Family are specially uncomfortable with the original line "even when you died, the press still hounded you", so a revision was needed.

Elton John performed the new version of Candle in the Wind - Goodbye England's Rose at the funeral for Princess Diana on September 6, 1997 in Westminster Abbey. "What was going through my mind was, 'Don't fuck this up. Don't sing a wrong note. Don't sing the wrong note. Be stoic. Don't break down and just do it to the best you can possibly do it without showing any emotion whatsoever". And so it was: Elto sang an emotionally rendition tribute to his friend, one of his best ever live performances.

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