August 31 – The Candle Was Hot

A sad news event led to a smash record . On this day in 1997, the world lost a legend in the early morning hours. Lady Di was killed in a car crash in France, at age 36. Whether it was a simple case of drunk driving, harassment from paparazzi or a murder planned by the Royal Family remains a great topic of debate, but what isn’t debatable is her legacy. As for us, it resonated because unlike other Royals at the time, Diana was a confirmed fan of pop/rock music.

As such it’s no surprise that years later a concert in her memory would have Duran Duran (reportedly her favorites), Elton John, Bryan Ferry, Fergie and others perform nor that Elton John would attend her funeral. He actually knew most of the Royal Family already (he says for instance that away from the camera, the Queen has a great sense of humor.) At the funeral he played a reworked version of his classic “Candle in the Wind”, originally written about Marilyn Monroe and appearing on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. It had been released as a single in Britain in 1974, getting to #11 there. But shortly after Di’s death, the BBC began playing it again in tribute, and Richard Branson called Elton to ask if he could change the lyrics and play it at the funeral.

John called Diana “ a very dear friend for years” and wanted to, but given the time frame knew it was a “tough gig” to come up with meaningful new lyrics. He asked Bernie Taupin, who’d written the original words and Taupin faxed over the new set the following day. Elton played it at the televised funeral, “on autopilot” and panicking “what I sang the wrong lyrics?” He got it right, was rushed to a studio, played and sang it twice, then left leaving Beatles-producer George Martin to dub in strings and other enhancements later. The new lyrics for Diana touched a nation, and when it was released as a single (with money going to her favorite charities) it was a smash. “Candle in the Wind ’97” was a #1 hit almost everywhere. It topped U.S. charts for 14 weeks, was among the top 20 selling singles for over two years in Canada and won Elton a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal. When all was said and done, it had sold 33 million copies, the most for any Rock Era single but John’s never performed it with the Di-lyrics since.

8 thoughts on “August 31 – The Candle Was Hot

  1. badfinger20 (Max)

    I’ll never forget that labor day weekend. I would rather hear the original though. That was a tragic thing…they shouldn’t have been running but the press shouldn’t have been chasing. It’s a crazy world we live in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the 70s version better too, but I appreciate his remake and why he did it.
      I was out with 2 buddies in downtown Toronto playing pool that night – which we didn’t do all that often – and the bar had on TVs which were tuned into news, I think CNN… when it was official she was dead, there was like a hush or pall over the room, and a lot of women were crying. It was sad.
      My sweetie and I have gotten into the show ‘The Crown” this month- I really like it. Only into season 2 and the ’60s on it, but I’m curious to see how they will portray Diana, adult Charles and the Queen’s reaction to it all.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. badfinger20 (Max)

        We were visiting Jennifer’s mother in West Virginia…it was such a shock and waste…It didn’t need to happen on both sides.

        I’ve heard of that show…that is cool.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ‘The Crown’ is quite rivoting… it seems to be fact-based and shows Elizabeth as a relatively likeable woman who was very torn between her own person and the duties she was supposed to live upto. Philip seems like a total grade A jackass through and through, which I must say is about what my relatives from the UK think too. Haven’t gotten far enough in to see Charles and Andrew as adults, nor needless to say, Diana.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I never liked the concept at all, nor looking at a foreign lady on all the money back home in Canada. But it is tradition and possibly – JUSt possibly – could have some advantages, I suppose if the government went really rogue they would have the power to turf them out, although that’s not likely. I rather respected Harry and Meghan for getting out, but I’m finding them a wee bit annoying of late and as much as she’s cute, I can’t believe she’s so dense she didn’t know what she was signing up for when she married a high-profile prince.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. badfinger20 (Max)

        There are so many rules they have to follow…it’s really not a great life when you look at it in that way but with the ones born with it…it’s all they know….for people coming in…it’s a culture shock.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: November 25 – Did They Know It Was Nearly Christmas-time – A Sound Day

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