“Candle in the Wind“ is a threnody with music and lyrics by Elton John and Bernie Taupin….which was originally written in 1973 in honor of Marilyn Monroe….who had died 11 years earlier. The original version in the key of E major appeared on John’s 1973 album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road….and was released as a single in 1974. The lyrics of the song are a sympathetic portrayal of the life of Marilyn Monroe….with the song’s opening line “Goodbye, Norma Jean” referring to Monroe’s real name, Norma Jean Baker.
In the Eagle Vision documentary on the making of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Taupin said the song is about “the idea of fame or youth or somebody being cut short in the prime of their life. The song could have been about James Dean, it could have been about Montgomery Clift, it could have been about Jim Morrison … how we glamorize death, how we immortalise people.” The single release of the original song reached # 11 in the UK charts in 1974. At the time, it was not released as a single in the United States….. whereas “Bennie and the Jets” was chosen instead. Taupin was inspired to write the song after hearing the phrase “candle in the wind” used in tribute to Janis Joplin.