Candle In The Wind: Elton John's Tribute To Marilyn Monroe And Princess Di

By | December 29, 2020

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Left to right: Princess Diana in 1985; sleeve art for the 1974 45rpm single; Marilyn Monroe in 'Some Like It Hot.' Sources: Wikimedia Commons;; IMDB

What did Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana have in common? Apart from Elton John's "Candle In The Wind," nothing -- Monroe was a celebrity sex symbol whose life was full of scandal, and Princess Diana was an elegant, though unhappy, member of England’s royal family. But there is that song -- the mournful "Candle In The Wind," composed by John and lyricist Bernie Taupin as a letter to Marilyn Monroe, then rewritten some 24 years later as a farewell to Diana after her death in an automobile crash. Both "Candle In The Wind" and "Candle In The Wind 1997" convey John’s strong empathy and emotional attachment for lives lost much too early.

Marilyn Monroe Was The Original Subject For The Tune 

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Marilyn Monroe in 'River of No Return.' Source: IMDB

The original "Candle In The Wind" was released on Elton John’s 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road with the music composed by John and the lyrics written by his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. The song was dedicated to the late actress Marilyn Monroe, who had passed away eleven years earlier to a drug overdose ruled as suicide at the age of 36. The song’s title was inspired by an obituary for Janis Joplin that described the singer, who passed away at the age of 27 of a heroin overdose in 1970, as a “candle in the wind.” When Elton John released "Candle In The Wind" as a single in 1974, it was an immediate hit and reached number 11 on the UK pop chart (it was not released as a single in the US). Since its release, John often closes his concerts with the tune since its dramatic mood makes for a sensational finale.