One of the most startling voices of her generation, the vocal acrobatics Kate Bush can provide are only matched by her ability to write some of the greatest pop songs contemporary culture has ever known.
Turning our attention back to 1991, a time when Bush was returning from a prolonged period of hiatus, we see the singer deliver a quite magnificent cover of Elton John’s 1973 hit ‘Candle In The Wind’, elevating the song’s core to new heights.
The track, originally written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin for the seminal album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, was created in honour of Marilyn Monroe who had died eleven years prior. The track would then go on to gather greater cultural significance when Elton John dedicated a performance of the track to Princess Diana following her death in 1997.
Bernie Taupin said the song is about “the idea of fame or youth or somebody being cut short in the prime of their life. The song could have been about James Dean, it could have been about Montgomery Clift, it could have been about Jim Morrison … how we glamorise death, how we immortalise people”. It is just another piece of masterful writing between Taupin and John as they capture the glamourous tragedy of a life wasted.
It is this kind of writing which has seen Elton John rise above the once-held title of popstar into his own solar system of musical talent. While the singer’s influence now stretches back across five decades, even during his career in the charts, artists were gathering to pay tribute to Elton John and Bernie Taupin.
It meant that when the chance to be a part of a 1991 tribute album consisting of interpretations of sixteen songs written by the duo popped up, the guest list was filled with the who’s who of the music business. Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin would feature artists such as George Michael, The Beach Boys, Tina Turner, The Who and of course Kate Bush.
Bush’s reggae-infused contribution in the form of her cover of ‘Rocket Man’ provided a welcome refrain from the otherwise earnest production. Bush also recorded her cover of ‘Candle In The Wind’ during this session but, for some extraordinary reason, it was left on the cutting room floor.
The song, especially these days, is considered to be one of the nation’s favourites and widely claimed to be one of Elton’s finest. With the added bonus of Kate Bush’s mesmerising vocal, it seemed a no-brainer that this song should be included in the original release. Instead, Bush added it to her ‘Rocket Man’ single as the B-side and let her fans enjoy it herself.
Below, you can listen to Kate Bush sing the tragic tale of glittering fame and heartbreaking loss, as she takes on Elton John’s ‘Candle In The Wind’.