Revisiting rare 1970 footage of Elton John revealing how he wrote ‘Tiny Dancer’
Elton John’s career is full of high watermarks and, quite rightly, ‘Tiny Dancer’ sits right up there on the top table with the best that the Rocketman has created throughout his remarkable career
The pièce de résistance featured as the first track on Elton’s 1971 record Madman Across The Water but is creation was formed the year before the release of the album. However, we have dug around in the Far Out archives and stumbled upon this astonishing footage from the year previous which was shot just after the writing of ‘Tiny Dancer’. The astounding video shows John sitting by a piano, talking through the track and his creative process as well as showcasing it for the very first time in public.
This archival video is remarkable in every sense, allowing a fresh insight into such a beloved track straight after its conception. One undeniable addition that makes this footage even more special is seeing how enthusiastic Elton is about the song and, more poignantly, watching his desire to show off his latest masterpiece to the world.
“These are all lyrics and I just sift through them,” John says about the words provided to him by his long-time collaborator Bernie Taupin. He then nonchalantly adds: “There’s one here I did just the other day called ‘Tiny Dancer,’ which is about Bernie’s girlfriend. I looked through all them and this is the one I fancied doing, mainly because I knew Bernie would like me to do this one.”
The iconic artist then explains in detail his creative process in transferring Taupin’s lyrics into songs: “Look at the words,” he says, reading off the first verse of the song straight from the original manuscript. “As soon as you get to the word ‘ballerina’ you know it’s not going to be fast. It’s going to be gentle and sort of quite slow.” John then begins to play an early version of the tune which deviates slightly from the one we all know and love, but you can hear the key elements which are still there.