The British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran has covered ‘Candle in the Wind’ for Revamp, a new album of classic Elton John/Bernie Taupin hits performed by various artists. Sheeran’s country-style version is a little underwhelming, but he has the kind of ‘everyman’ appeal which makes him a believable ‘young man in the 22nd row.’
“[It was about] the idea of fame or youth or somebody being cut short in the prime of their life,” Bernie Taupin has said. “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.” Taupin was inspired to write the lyrics of the song after hearing the phrase ‘candle in the wind’ used in tribute to singer Janis Joplin. I think the biggest misconception about ‘Candle In The Wind’ is that I was this rabid Marilyn Monroe fanatic, which really couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not that I didn’t have a respect for her.”
Rock supergroup A Perfect Circle (featuring members of Smashing Pumpkins, Tool, and Marilyn Manson’s bassist) are releasing their first album in fourteen years this week. One of their new tracks, ‘So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish‘ (after the whimsical title of a Douglas Adams novel), nods to deceased stars like David Bowie and the original MM with a mixture of nostalgia and cynicism (the Monroe reference may also be a nod to Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind.’)
“Ticker tape parade
Our hair and skin like
Like Marilyn Monroe
In an empty wind …”
The Mexican edition of Playboy‘s latest issue features a different cover shot of Marilyn. Meanwhile, ‘Sunset Gun’ blogger Kim Morgan, whose wonderful tribute is a highlight of the magazine special, spoke to the Winnipeg Free Pressabout writing for Playboy, and what MM means to her.
“I wouldn’t say that I was being simply protective, though I do feel loyal towards her. I think there’s more complexity to how one approaches Marilyn, whether they know it or not, which is why she remains powerful to this day. And I mentioned Candle in the Wind briefly, a well-meaning song, in opposition to the song that runs through my piece, Bob Dylan’s She Belongs to Me, even though Dylan didn’t write it for MM. But to me, that song feels like Marilyn in all her beauty, complications, mystery and art. ‘She’s an artist.’ Marilyn was an artist.”
Sandy Denny was an English folk singer, and first found fame as a member of Fairport Convention. Her songs include ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes?’ and ‘The Battle of Evermore’ (with Led Zeppelin.)
In 1977, Denny recorded a cover of Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind’, a song about the tragic life of Marilyn Monroe, for her last solo album, Rendezvous. It was released as a single. Miss Denny died a year later, aged 31.
‘Candle in the Wind’ is ranked #347 in Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It has also been covered by Kate Bush, and Elton John recorded an altered version after the death of Princess Diana in 1997.
Nonetheless, I personally consider Sandy Denny’s version of ‘Candle in the Wind’ to be the best by far. It was an unusual choice for her, given that she rarely ventured into pop. Perhaps Sandy was a fan (of either the song, or Marilyn), and certainly her brief and troubled, but brilliant career could be compared to Monroe’s.