I first heard Elton John’s music back in the mid-1980s. While my initial exposure to him was his 1980s material, I was able to hear Elton’s earlier material when I was older. It was rather hard for me to whittle this list down to my personal ten favorite songs, because there’s some worthy material that I ended up not including. This list is done in alphabetical order, because it’s too hard for me to rank these as an actual top ten.
“Can You Feel the Love Tonight” is one of the songs that Elton contributed to Disney’s The Lion King film. While this song may have done well due to its connection the film, it’s also a strong song that can stand on its own. It’s also a song that listeners can identify with.
“Candle in the Wind” is a song written about Marilyn Monroe. I tend to prefer the 1980s live version of this song done with the Melbourne Symphony orchestra over the original recording from the 1970s. This is probably due to the fact that I heard the live version on the radio a lot when it was released as a single.
“Daniel” is a song about loss and the death of someone close to the speaker. I remember hearing Wilson Phillips doing a cover of this song for an Elton John tribute album in the early 1990s. When I heard Elton’s original, I realized how good of a song it was. While Wilson Phillips did a decent rendition, I think Elton’s version is stronger.
“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” is a classic, fun, upbeat duet with Kiki Dee. When Elton John re-recorded the song with RuPaul in 1993, I found I didn’t like that rendition nearly as much as the original. There’s just something about the Elton and Kiki version that the later RuPaul duet lacked.
“I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That” is a great song, and really utilizes the piano as a percussion instrument. When it was released as a single, it really stood out from the other songs being released at the time. The music video for this song was also very well-done, and this is one of those songs where I can picture the music video when I hear it.
“I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” is one of the earliest songs of Elton’s that I have memories of hearing as a kid. It’s one of the songs that I gained a better appreciation for as I got older and experienced more in the way of life and relationships. It’s another one of those songs where the listener can identify with the lyrics.
“I Want Love” came out in 2000, after Elton’s pop success had started slowing down. This song definitely sounded like a return to the “classic” Elton arrangements of the 1970s, but you could still hear the more modern sound in it. Elton’s vocal performance is full of passion in this song, and you can really believe that he means what he’s singing.
“I’m Still Standing” is another one of the earliest Elton John songs I heard as a kid. At the time, the upbeat sound of it would have attracted me. While the music video is rather strange, my appreciation for the song has grown over the years as I came to understand the message of the lyrics more.
“Tiny Dancer” is one of Elton’s songs from the 1970s, and it’s a song I heard for the first time in the late 1990s/early 2000s. One thing about this song that really stands out to me is the simplicity of the arrangement. Anything more complicated would have weakened this song.
“Your Song” is one of Elton’s earliest songs. It has an arrangement and a message that is simple, and the lyrics are easily accessible to listeners. This is a song that my husband and I both enjoy, and it was even played at our wedding reception.
Elton has recorded other wonderful songs during his career, but they just didn’t quite make the cut for my personal top ten list. Those songs would include: “Believe,” “Circle of Life,” “Club at the End of the Street,” “Healing Hands,” “The Last Song,” “The One,” and “Sacrifice.”