Riding on the success of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” Elton John wrote his Christmas classic, “Step Into Christmas.” Of course, he had the help of his long-time songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin. However, while the pair wrote the song, they had one industry giant in the back of their minds.
Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s wanted to release ‘Step Into Christmas’ as a single
According to the Sunday Post, “Step Into Christmas” was Elton John and Taupin’s first song written specifically designed as a stand-alone single. They wanted to write a song and release it as a “Christmas present to thank fans after a successful year for Elton.”
“We’ve never written a song specially tailored to be a single,” Elton John told Melody Maker (per Smooth Radio). “This time we wrote it last Sunday morning, recorded it on the afternoon, and it’ll be out on Friday.”
The two songwriters released “Step Into Christmas” with “Ho, Ho, Ho (Who’d Be A Turkey At Christmas)” as the B-side. They recorded it on Nov. 11, 1973, at Morgan Studios in London, and it debuted later in the month.
However, while Elton John and Taupin wrote the jolly hit, they also wanted to pay homage to a certain producing giant of the time.
Elton John and Taupin paid homage to Phil Spector on their holiday hit
Phil Spector was a producing giant back in the 1960s and 1970s. By 1973, he’d already had enormous success with his Wall of Sound recording technique and used it for all of his acts, including The Ronettes, The Crystals, and Darlene Love.
In 1963, Spector released A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector. It had renditions of classic Christmas tunes from all of his acts and became one of the most famous Christmas compilation albums ever. So, it’s no wonder Elton John and Taupin wanted to pay homage to Spector on their Christmas hit.
“We wanted to make an homage to Phil Spector. Part of what made Phil Spector records were the rooms, the musicians and the ambiance,” Elton John said during an interview with Melody Maker (per the Sunday Post).
How well did Elton John and Taupin’s ‘Step Into Christmas’ do on the charts?
Elton John continued to tell Melody Maker that they loved making “Step Into Christmas.” He said, “The Christmas single is a real loon about and something we’d like to do a lot more of.”
“Let’s do a Christmas record! we thought,” he continued. “In those days we made records all the time. Bernie absolutely loves Christmas songs, so he was all for it.”
The holiday tune was fun to write for the pair, and they only wrote it as a thank you to fans. So, they weren’t too intrigued about how it’d do on the charts. Still, they should be proud of “Step Into Christmas” because it accomplished everything they wanted it to and more. It peaked at No. 24 on the U.K. charts in 1973 and No. 1 on the Billboard Christmas Singles chart in the U.S.
What’s more, Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas” continues to be a hit nearly 50 years later. It always reappears on the charts and playlists every holiday season.