Candle in the wind about which actress

"Candle in the Wind": Elton John's tribute to Princess Diana

The song was originally intended for another star: in 1973, "Candle in the Wind" was released, a tribute to Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe by Elton John and his text writer Bernie Taupin. It is not the celebrated sex symbol that is in the foreground, but the turbulent life of a sensitive woman destroyed by the hype. Taupin later said that he did not come up with the metaphor of the extinguished candle in the wind, but was inspired by an obituary for the singer Janis Joplin. The rock pipe had died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27.

When the terrible news spread on August 31, 1997 that Princess Diana had died in a car accident, Elton John was deeply shocked: He had met Diana in 1981 at a birthday party for Prince Andrew and had been friends with her ever since. It was just six weeks since Diana comforted him at the funeral of another friend, fashion designer Gianni Versace.

Princess Diana and Elton John were friends for a long time. Right: George Michael

From Marilyn to Diana

The Royal Family contacted Elton John: would he sing at Diana's funeral service? The musician immediately thought of the song "Candle in the Wind". The text about a Hollywood star would be unsuitable for a funeral service in Westminster Abbey. So he turned to Bernie Taupin in California, who rewrote his original version. Not too much, because parallels between the life of Diana and Marilyn Monroe, who also died at the age of 36, were unmistakable. "I wanted it to sound like a whole country was singing," Taupin said. The new text was there within hours. "After I wrote the first few lines, the rest of the flow came naturally."

At the funeral for Diana on September 6, 1997 - exactly seven days after the tragedy - Elton John sat at the piano and sang "Goodbye, England's Rose". He later described the experience as "surreal". "What crossed my mind was, 'Don't sing the wrong note. Try to keep your equanimity. Just try to do your best without showing any emotion.' My heart was beating pretty fast, I have to say."

The effect was enormous: "It was as if someone had shot an arrow through my mental defenses," said Prince Harry later. He was 12 at the time and had to face the eyes of the world at the funeral service for his mother - just like his brother William. Harry was determined not to cry. But who could suppress tears with words like: "Now you are in heaven and the stars are writing your name"? Many of the 2000 memorial service visitors fared no differently.

Unique sales success

The song was recorded exactly one week after Diana's funeral in London's Townhouse Studios; the producer Sir George Martin had made an arrangement with string quartet and oboe for it. On September 13, 1997, the single "Goodbye, England's Rose" was released with another Elton John title on the B-side ("Something About the Way You Look Tonight").

The run on the pane put everything that had gone before in the shade: On the very first day it went over the counter 658,000 times. After the first week, 1.5 million sales were posted, and three million within 15 days. The disc was sold eleven million times in the USA, and with 4.75 million copies it has been the best-selling single of all time in Germany since 1997. It is estimated that "Goodbye, England's Rose" sold six times a second during its peak.

With 33 million units worldwide, the record is often cited as the best-selling single of all time. Strictly speaking, this is not true, because with an estimated 50 million copies sold, "White Christmas" by singer Bing Crosby still holds the record - even if the number cannot be verified: A large part of the sales took place before the introduction of the chart statistics.

A fund for a good cause

Elton John only performed "Goodbye, England's Rose" once - at Diana's funeral. In concerts he sings the earlier version of "Candle in the Wind" from 1973. He decreed that the proceeds from the 1997 version should go to charities that were important to Diana. To this end, a fund was set up, which, after its closure 15 years later in 2012, was recorded: 138 million pounds sterling (today that would be 147 million euros) had been received, an astonishing 38 million pounds (approx. 41 million euros) from the sale of "Candle" alone in the wind ".

Here are the lyrics in German translation:

Farewell, Rose of England, that you may grow forever in our hearts
Your grace appeared where life was destroyed
You spoke loudly to our country and whispered to those in pain
Now you are in heaven and the stars are writing your name.

And it seems to me like you've lived your life like a candle in the wind
Never extinguished with the sunset when the rain set in
And your footprints will always remain
On England's greenest hills
Your flame is out
But your myth will last forever.

We have lost your charm
The days are empty without your smile
We will carry this torch forever
For the gold child of our nation
And even if we defend ourselves against it
Reality makes us cry
All of our words cannot describe the joy
That you've brought us over the years
[…]
Farewell, Rose of England
Calls a land lost without your soul
That your compassion will be missing
More than you will ever know!