Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind’: Why Bernie Taupin Co-Wrote the Song When He’s Not a Marilyn Monroe Fan

Elton John and Bernie Taupin helped immortalize Marilyn Monroe through their song “Candle in the Wind.” During an interview, Taupin discussed why he wrote the song even though he wasn’t much of a fan of Monroe. He also revealed why he chose to write the song about Monroe when it could just have easily have been about The Doors’ Jim Morrison.

Marilyn Monroe smiling and lying on grass
Marilyn Monroe | Baron/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Why Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind’ could’ve been a song about Jim Morrison instead of Marilyn Monroe

Monroe has been mentioned in numerous songs, including Madonna‘s “Vogue” and Nicki Minaj‘s “Marilyn Monroe.” “Candle in the Wind” is possibly the most famous song about the iconic star. In a 2014 Rolling Stone article, Taupin said “Candle in the Wind” didn’t need to be about Monroe.

“I wrote ‘Candle in the Wind’ about Marilyn Monroe, but she is absolutely not someone I admired a lot as a kid or anything,” Taupin said. “She was just a metaphor for fame and dying young, and people sort of overdoing the indulgence, and those that do die young. The song could have easily have been about Montgomery Clift or James Dean or even Jim Morrison.” For context, Clift, Dean, and Morrison were all stars who died young.

Elton John on a couch
Elton John | Michael Putland/Getty Images

RELATED: The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz Learned to Sing Songs ‘Properly’ When He Was in an Elton John Musical

Why Bernie Taupin decided the song should be about Marilyn Monroe

Taupin explained why he wrote “Candle in the Wind” about Monroe rather than a male celebrity. “It seemed that she just had a more sympathetic bent to her, so I used her,” he said. “And she was female, and that was more vulnerable. But it was really about the excesses of celebrity, the early demise of celebrities, and ‘live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse.’ And that was really the crux of the song.”

Regardless of his lukewarm feelings on Monroe, Taupin has strong feelings about “Candle in the Wind.” “I think it’s one of the best marriages of lyric and melody that Elton and I have ever put together,” he said. “But it doesn’t change the fact that I wasn’t particularly enamored by Marilyn Monroe.” On the other hand, John said he was a fan of Monroe from childhood because she was so glamorous.

RELATED: Marilyn Monroe: Was She Alive When Andy Warhol Painted Her?

The way the world reacted to Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind’

The original version of “Candle in the Wind” did not become a hit in the United States. A 1986 live recording of it reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for 21 weeks. Meanwhile, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road lasted on the Billboard 200 for 111 weeks. It spent eight of those weeks at the top of the chart.

The first recording of “Candle in the Wind” became a hit in the United Kingdom. The Official Charts Company reports the song hit No. 11 there and stayed on the chart for nine weeks. Meanwhile, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road reached No. 1 and stayed on the chart for 102 weeks. No matter who it is about, “Candle in the Wind” remains a classic ballad.

RELATED: Elton John: How He Feels About The Weeknd Sampling ‘Your Song’