#1059: Love Song by Elton John

Peak Month: May 1976
6 weeks on Vancouver’s CKLG chart
Peak Position #10
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 ~ did not chart

Reginald Kenneth Dwight was born in 1947. When he was three years old he astounded his family when he was able to play The Skater’s Waltz by Émile Waldteufel by ear at the piano. When he was eleven years old he won a scholarship as a Junior Exhibitor at the Royal Academy of Music. Between the ages of 11 and 15  he attended the Academy on Saturday mornings. In 1962, by the age of 15, he was performing with his group, The Corvettes, at the Northwood Hills Hotel (now the Northwood Hills Public House) in a northern borough of London. While he was playing with a band called Bluesology in the mid-60s he adopted the stage name Elton John. His stage name, which became his legal name in 1967, was taken from Bluesology saxophonist Elton Dean, and their lead singer, Long John Baldry. 

Northwood_Hills,_Northwood,_HA6.jpg

The Northwood Hills

In 1967 John met Bernie Taupin, a songwriter. Since they teamed up they’ve worked together  on 32 studio albums between 1969 and 2016. In the same five-decade span Elton John has released 128 singles. Of these 42 reached the Top Ten in Canada on the RPM singles chart, 29 made Top Ten on the UK charts and 26 singles made Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100. Elton John holds the distinction of having the most successful single release in the rock ‘n roll era ~ 1955 to the present ~ with his 1997 version of “Candle in the Wind” which has sold over 33 million copies. The biggest selling single remains “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby which has sold  50 million copies.

On “Love Song” Elton John sings with Lesley Duncan. Her married name is Lesley Cox. She was born on August 12, 1943. Duncan was a singer-songwriter, best known for her work during the 1970s. She received significant airplay on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2. However, she never achieved great commercial success. A notable reason for this was her crippling stage fright. She is considered one of Britain’s first female singer-songwriters. The song for which Duncan is best known is “Love Song.” Elton John recorded his duet with Duncan of the song, styled after her solo version, for his 1971 album Tumbleweed Connection. In 1974 she sang the song in a guest appearance at a performance Elton John gave at the Royal Festival Hall. The tune did not appear on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA. However, Vancouver record buyers liked the song and took it to #10 on CKLG five years after it was released on Tumbleweed Connection.

Elton John - Love Song (Short Version) 45 (MCA Promo Canada).JPG

The words I have to say
May well be simple but they’re true
Until you give your love
There’s nothing more that we can do
Love is the opening door
Love is what we came here for
No one could offer you more
Do you know what I mean
Have your eyes really seen

You say it’s very hard
To leave behind the life we knew
But there’s no other way
And now it’s really up to you
Love is the key we must turn
Truth is the flame we must burn
Freedom the lesson we must learn
Do you know what I mean
Have your eyes really seen

Love is the opening door
Love is what we came here for
No one could offer you more
Do you know what I mean
Have your eyes really seen
Do you know what I mean
Have your eyes really seen
Do you know what I mean
Have your eyes really seen
Do you know what I mean

The songs’ lyrics describe a choice point in a relationship “until you give your love, there’s nothing more that we can do.” While it may be that both partners moved toward each other in the name of love, one partner is hesitating and will either open the door of love or keep it shut. The song is sung from the point of view of the person who is ready to make a commitment. “Love Song” is one of a very few songs to be released by Elton John that he didn’t write, or co-write, with Bernie Taupin. Leslie Duncan once said of the tune she wrote, it was “a little song I’d knocked up as a suitable B-side.” It has been covered by more than 150 artists, including Olivia Newton-John, David Bowie and Barry White.

Born in Stockton-on-Tees, Lesley had an unpromising background, leaving school just before her 15th birthday and home soon after. In 1962, while she was working in a London coffee bar, she and her brother Jimmy (soon to become manager of the Pretty Things) took some songs to a leading Tin Pan Alley music publisher. Jimmy was signed with a weekly retainer of £10, and Lesley with £7, on the grounds that she had fewer songs, no guitar and was a girl. Within a year, she had an EMI recording contract and had appeared in the film What a Crazy World (1963), with Joe Brown, Marty Wilde and Susan Maughan.

She released a dozen singles from 1963 to 1970, while continuing to write songs for other performers, including the Walker Brothers. She was also in great demand as a session singer, contributing backing vocals to Dusty Springfield’s singles from 1964 up to her See All Her Faces album in 1972; Springfield returned the favour, doing backing vocals on Lesley’s singles. Throughout the 70s, Lesley sang backing vocals for Donovan, Long John Baldry, Kiki Dee, Ringo Starr and many others, and also sang on the Jesus Christ, Superstar album, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (1973) and the Alan Parsons Project’s Eve (1979). Lesley Duncan  preferred her main gig as a session singer even though she released several albums and a dozen singles of dubious commercial success. She died in 2010 at the age of 66.

In 1994 Elton John was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1998 he became Sir Elton John when he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his “services to music and charitable services.” Among the many performances he has given include the funeral for Princess Diana at Westminster Abbey in 1997, and Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Concert outside Buckingham Palace in 2012.
#EltonJohn
#TheSeventies

For more song reviews visit the Countdown.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter