What Is The True Story Behind Elton John’s “Song For Guy”? Who Was It About?

by Emilio Pérez Miguel on November 14, 2010

“Song For Guy” Remains The Sole Instrumental Piece By Elton That Has Cracked The Charts

“Song For Guy” Remains The Sole Instrumental Piece By Elton That Has Cracked The Charts

“Song For Guy” is a six-minute instrumental piece that closes Elton’s 1978 album, “A Single Man”. It is preceded by a short introduction which is named “Reverie”.

If you have “A Single Man”, you will be able to read in the credits that the song is dedicated to Guy Burchett, a seventeen-year old boy that worked at Rocket (Elton’s record company) as a messenger. He died in a motorcycle accident.

There are two common misconceptions surrounding “Song For Guy”. The first is thinking that Elton wrote the song after Guy had died. He did not. He had a strange inspiration the night before the accident, and he wrote it right then. He named it upon learning the devastating news the following day.

Guy Burchett

Guy Burchett

The other misperception involves the sole lyric of the song. This is often transcribed as “Life is a delicate thing”, when Elton is actually singing “Life isn’t everything”.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Ken Self April 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Listen again and maybe you will hear that EJ is saying

“Life is a temporary thing”

and then again, maybe not.

Reply

Emilio April 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Hmmm, then again, maybe not… Guess we should have to have ask Captain Fantastic himself to settle this ; )
Cheers!

Emilio

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Dick Heijne June 30, 2011 at 12:14 am

Almost right as far as I’m concerned. To me (and just checked again) I clearly hear “life is a tempor(ar)y thing” (the “ar” is swollowed for rithmic reasons) , what (TMHO) makes sense from a contextual point of view: I absolutely can’t hear anything like an “everything” phrase here. From a poetric point of view (and knowing Guy’s age and cause of death) , I would say that the thought of life being a tempory thing, is well in place…

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Kyle Morgan January 10, 2012 at 2:32 am

The sheet music says, “Life isn’t everything.”
Life isn’t ev-er-y thing.
Cheers

Reply

Mick January 31, 2012 at 12:17 am

Beautiful tribute

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cd February 4, 2012 at 3:28 am

just watched him talking about this and singing it live…. all my life i never thought it was anything but “life isn’t everything”…. and watching closely (rewinding it just to make sure, watching carefully!) – that is definitely what he says, each time! :o)

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