With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

Play It Again Mayhem – “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” – Elton John May 23, 2020


This is the second of an occasional series of songs that I don’t believe ever got the airplay they deserved, the previous and first was for “Everybody Was Rockin'” by the late great Betty Wright. Click here to check that one out. I suspect that when I have completed a few in this series there will be an accompanying playlist!

My favourite Elton John album is ‘Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy’ and it has been ever since it was released in 1975. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” is not only my favourite song on the album it was the only single to come from it. The record performed well in the US chart, reaching number 4, (and number 2 in Canada), but in the UK chart, it only made a lowly 22. The song, and indeed the album, is autobiographical and covers Elton and Bernie Taupin’s early life together as struggling songwriters. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” describes Elton’s failed suicide attempt on the eve of a potential and probably disastrous marriage in 1968. He had tried to gas himself, but when Bernie Taupin found him the window was also open. Which meant it was an inept attempt at suicide or maybe just a classic “cry for help”. The “someone” and the phrase “sugar bear” in the song are believed to refer to Elton’s 60s friend Long John Baldry who spent a lot of time and effort trying to steer the then Reg Dwight away from that marriage. For me, it ranks as one of the best lyrics Mr Taupin ever wrote (lyrics are copied below). Maybe the song was too long for a UK single at 15 seconds shy of seven minutes. But Elton, given the deeply personal nature of the tune, refused to edit it for single release. It was also the last single, for 8 years, to feature the classic Elton John Band line up of Dee Murray (bass), Davey Johnstone (guitar), and Nigel Olsson (drums). The song has been covered by Mumford and Sons, sampled by Kanye West and referenced a few times in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.

I have added a bonus live version of the song from Central Park, NYC in 1980. If the woman who made it onto the stage at around 6 and a half minutes in is still around I would love to chat with her for another post. Is it you? Is it your Mom? Do you know her? Please let me know!

“Someone Saved My Life Tonight” – Elton John (music Elton John, lyrics Bernie Taupin)

When I think of those East End lights
Muggy nights
The curtains drawn in the little room downstairs
Prima donna Lord you really should have been there
Sitting like a princess perched in her electric chair
And it’s one more beer
And I don’t hear you anymore
We’ve all gone crazy lately
My friends out there rolling round the basement floor
And someone saved my life tonight sugar bear
You almost had your hooks in me didn’t you dear
You nearly had me roped and tied
Altar-bound, hypnotized
Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You’re a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away bye bye
I never realized the passing hours
Of evening showers
A slip noose hanging in my darkest dreams
I’m strangled by your haunted social scene
Just a pawn out-played by a dominating queen
It’s four o’clock in the morning
Damn it listen to me good
I’m sleeping with myself tonight
Saved in time, thank God my music’s still alive
And someone saved my life tonight sugar bear
You almost had your hooks in me didn’t you dear
You nearly had me roped and tied
Altar-bound, hypnotized
Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You’re a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away bye bye
And I would have walked head-on into the deep end the river
Clinging to your stocks and bonds
Paying your H.P. demands forever
They’re coming in the morning with a truck to take me home
Someone saved my life tonight, someone saved my life tonight
Someone saved my life tonight, someone saved my life tonight
Someone saved my life tonight
So save your strength and run the field you play alone
And someone saved my life tonight sugar bear
You almost had your hooks in me didn’t you dear
You nearly had me roped and tied
Altar-bound, hypnotized
Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You’re a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away bye bye

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Play It Again Mayhem – “Everybody Was Rockin'” – Betty Wright May 13, 2020


This is the first of an occasional series of songs that I don’t believe ever got the airplay they deserved. The idea came to me on 9th May after I heard this Betty Wright track on one of my Spotify playlists, spookily she died the following day and she was only around five years older than me! Anyway, I remember buying this single as a US import from a little record shop in Windsor Street, Uxbridge. I had heard it once on the radio when it was released in the US in 1974 and never heard it again on UK radio at the time. It was included on Betty’s 1974 album ‘Danger High Voltage’ along with two singles that did make the UK charts, “Shoorah Shoorah” and “Where Is The Love”. Her UK releases at the time were on the RCA label, but my US 7 inch was on the Alston label. Many people will know Betty Wright from perhaps her biggest hit “Clean Up Woman” from 1971. I love that tune, but my favourite song by her is “Everybody Was Rockin'” by a long way. It was written and produced by Clarence Reid and Willie Clarke. What gives it that real funky pop punch though is the band, which is in effect KC and the Sunshine Band, you can tell from that awesome signature horn sound. Put on your boogie shoes and have a dance to this gem of a track that did not and does not get enough airtime!

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