Song of the Day #4,116: ‘Daniel ‘ – Elton John

Elton John released Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in October of 1973, but just nine months earlier he dropped his first album of the year, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player.

This album is best known for its opening track, ‘Daniel,’ and the rollicking ‘Crocodile Rock.’ During my recent Elton John deep dive, I wrote about two other highlights: the Rolling Stones-esque ‘Midnight Creeper‘ and closing track ‘High Flying Bird.’

This album found John experimenting with different sounds both musically and vocally. The keyboard sound in ‘Daniel,’ for example, is unlike anything he’d released prior to this album.

Bernie Taupin calls this his most misinterpreted song. It was written about a Vietnam vet returning home and becoming disillusioned by the hero’s welcome when all he wants to do is be alone. I can see why it’s been misinterpreted, because I’ll be damned if I get any of that from these lyrics.

Apparently there was a final verse that spelled things out but John cut it before recording the song.

[Verse 1]
Daniel is travelin’ tonight on a plane
I can see the red taillights headin’ for Spain
Oh, and I can see Daniel wavin’ goodbye
God, it looks like Daniel
Must be the clouds in my eyes

[Verse 2]
They say Spain is pretty, though I’ve never been
And Daniel says it’s the best place he’s ever seen
Oh, and he should know, he’s been there enough
Lord, I miss Daniel
Oh, I miss him so much

[Chorus]
Oh, Daniel, my brother, you are older than me
Do you still feel the pain of the scars that won’t heal?
Your eyes have died, but you see more than I
Daniel, you’re a star in the face of the sky

[Chorus]
Oh, Daniel, my brother, you are older than me
Do you still feel the pain of the scars that won’t heal?
Your eyes have died, but you see more than I
Daniel, you’re a star in the face of the sky

[Verse 1]
Daniel is travelin’ tonight on a plane
I can see the red taillights headin’ for Spain
Oh, and I can see Daniel wavin’ goodbye
God, it looks like Daniel
Must be the clouds in my eyes

[Outro]
Oh God, it looks like Daniel
Must be the clouds in my eyes

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,116: ‘Daniel ‘ – Elton John

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Apparently, Taupin has, on other occasions, said the cut verse really didn’t clarify anything:
    “We had that whole thing about the missing verse that everybody seems to believe explained the true meaning of the song. I think that’s just an urban legend. It didn’t really explain anything. Sure, it was cut out. But that used to happen all the time with our songs. I would often overwrite, and Elton felt it necessary to edit somewhat. But believe me, it didn’t say anything that the rest of the song didn’t say.”

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