Your Song, Annotated

With the recent release of Rocketman, a film Molly (who, let's be real, is the Bernie to my Elton) accurately described as "heavy handed," I wanted to publish something I've been meaning to write for awhile. I've been working on a close reading of the lyrics to Your Song, and the time is finally ripe to share it. I'd say more in this intro, but once you read the analysis I think you'll agree, I've said all I need to say.

It’s a little bit funny / this feeling inside / I’m not one of those who can easily hide.

It seems like this song is going to go in a beautiful direction. Particularly for Elton John, a flamboyant and openly gay pop star, you’re gearing up for what promises to be a gorgeous ballad of misunderstood love.

I don’t have much money but / boy if I did / I’d buy a big house where / we both could live

Little materialistic but I’ll forgive it. Wanting to provide for the one you love, I can dig it. 

If I was a sculptor / but then again no

I want to make it very clear that I love Elton John. I love his music. I’ve been moved to years by his music. I’m in awe of what he’s created.

This is the dumbest line that’s ever been written not just by Bernie and Elton, but by anyone. Why include the “but then again, no”? It adds absolutely nothing to the theme of the song you’ve already set up, it has nothing to do with anything, it makes it sound like you wrote the lyrics over a voice memo and sent it out with no edits!

“It works with the rhyme! It makes sense in context!”

Oh does it? What's the context? What's the next line?

or a man / who makes potions in the / traveling show.

Several issues. One, this is not a job. Two, potions aren’t real. Three, Bernie Taupin figures the best rhyme he could come up with for the word “no,” one of the easiest words to rhyme in the English language, was the phrase “traveling show,” which makes sense in almost no context.

Speaking of context, let’s hear the next line and see if it makes more sense as a whole.

I know it’s not much but / it’s the best I can do / My gift is my song and this ones for you.

Let’s recap. Imagine someone came up to you and said, “baby if I was a sculptor, wait no, if I made potions in a traveling show. It’s not much, but it’s the best I got, here’s a song I wrote for you.”

The most likely response would be “wow Elton John and Bernie Taupin, what a beautiful gesture. I feel touched by this gift. Can we back up though? What was the part about the potions? The sculptor? Doesn’t seem to add anything to the sentiment, and in fact, I’m pretty confused now, and caught up in the lyrics which is hurting the message.”

And you can tell everybody / this is your song

I had a friend whose ex-boyfriend insisted he understood the “if I was a sculptor” line, which should have been my first clue as to how pretentious he was. Anyone who says they understand that couplet is a liar and shouldn’t be trusted.

It may be quite simple but / now that it’s done

The song’s not done Elton. And “song” and “done” don’t rhyme Bernie. I know you can do better than this, I’ve heard your other music. It’s not your best work.

I hope you don’t mind / I hope you don’t mind / that I put down in words / how wonderful life is / while you’re in the world.

I love this line. I love this song, really. It would be one of the most romantic songs ever written but for that stupid sculptor line.

I sat on the roof / and kicked off the moss / well a few of the verses / well they got me / quite cross.

I find this line eminently relatable. Clearly some of the verses have me quite cross too.

But the sun’s been quite kind / while I wrote this song / it’s for people like you that / keep it turned on.

Minor issue here as well. I get it, I’m a poet too, sometimes you sacrifice grammar for rhythm, rhyme, feel. But if the bad grammar distracts from the meaning, give it another pass. 

“People like you keep the sun turned on” or “the sun turns on for people like you” is the theme I think Bernie is going for here. But “it’s for people like you that keep it turned on” is a horrible way to phrase it. Too many it’s! I don’t really know what each “it” is referring back to!

And “song” and “on” don’t really rhyme.

If I may do a quick rewrite (sorry Bernie):

But the sun’s been quite kind / while I wrote for you / it is people like you that / keep the sky blue.

Don’t like that? How about:

But the sun’s been quite kind / while I wrote this song / it's those people like you that / move it along.

Just a thought.

So excuse me forgetting / but these things I do / you see I've forgotten / if they're green / or they're blue.

Another relatable line. I too write many poems to girls without knowing what color their eyes are. My bad, ladies.

Anyway, the thing is / what I really mean / yours are the sweetest eyes / I've ever seen.

Wait, let’s go back to the potions for a minute. If he is making potions in the traveling show what kind of potions are they? Are they love potions? Isn’t a love potion basically a roofie? Is Elton John saying that if he made potions in the traveling show he would make me a potion that would make me fall in love with him? Is Elton John planning to roofie me?

And you can tell everybody / this is your song / It may be quite simple but / now that it's done

Still not done ! This is not the end of the song.

I hope you don't mind / I hope you don't mind / that I put down in words / how wonderful life is / while you're in the world.

It's not that I mind that you put down in words, I mind how you put it down in words.

I hope you don't mind / I hope you don't mind / that I put down in words / how wonderful life is / while you're in the world.

But what would you have done if you were a sculptor or if you made potions? Those questions are still dangling, and by God, I demand answers.