|Single by Elton John|
|from the album Madman Across the Water|
|Released||7 February 1972|
|Recorded||9 August 1971|
|Studio||Trident Studios, London|
|Genre||Soft rock, pop|
|Elton John singles chronology|
"Tiny Dancer" is a song composed and performed by English musician Elton John with lyrics by Bernie Taupin. It appears on John's fourth album, Madman Across the Water; it was released as a single in 1972. It was ranked No. 47 on the 2021 list of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
In the United States, it was certified gold on 19 May 2005, platinum on 19 August 2011 and 3x platinum on 26 April 2018 by the Recording Industry Association of America. In the UK, "Tiny Dancer" was certified gold on 17 August 2018 by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for sales of 400,000 copies. On 2 August 2019, it was certified platinum for sales of 600,000 despite never being released as an official single there.
With lyrics written by Bernie Taupin, the song was first featured as the opening track to John's 1971 album, Madman Across the Water. The song's lyrics were inspired by Taupin's first visit to the US in 1970, and were intended to capture the spirit of California, where he found the women he met highly contrasted with those who he had known in his home country of England. Taupin also stated in a 1973 interview in Rolling Stone that the song is about Maxine Feibelman, his wife at the time. In 2019, Feibelman said, "I knew [the song] was about me. I had been into ballet as a little girl and sewed patches on Elton's jackets and jeans", referring to the song's description of a "seamstress for the band".
The song features piano-based accompaniment during verses. The arrangement start features pedal steel guitar played by English guitarist BJ Cole, light percussion, Paul Buckmaster's strings and a quiet choir. Back-up vocals are provided by Tony Burrows, among others.
Due to the song's lengthy run time of 6:12 minutes, "Tiny Dancer" was initially a non-starter as a single in the US, reaching only #41 on the U.S. pop chart, and was not even released as a single in the UK. Some radio edits ended the song following the first chorus, because the first verse repeats. Some radio stations banned the song, due to the controversial opening lines of the second verse: "Jesus Freaks/ Out in the Streets". The song fared better in Canada, where John had much of his early commercial breakthrough success, peaking at #19. It was also a hit in Australia, peaking at #13. Eventually, the song slowly became one of John's most popular songs even in the territories that initially failed to embrace it, and the full-length version is now a fixture on North American, UK and Australian adult contemporary and rock radio stations. The song also received a boost of popularity after having been prominently featured in the 2000 film Almost Famous. The song was also featured in the 1975 film Aloha, Bobby and Rose.
The song was played at Donald Trump rallies in 2015 and 2016 which Elton John was not pleased with.
In May 2017, an official music video for "Tiny Dancer" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival as a winner of Elton John: The Cut, a competition organized in partnership with AKQA, Pulse Films, and YouTube in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of his songwriting relationship with Bernie Taupin. The competition called upon independent filmmakers to submit treatments for music videos for one of three Elton John songs from the 1970s, with each song falling within a specific concept category. "Tiny Dancer" was designated for the live-action category, with the competition won by Max Weiland. The video was filmed in Los Angeles, and features scenes of various residents driving around the city, including performer Marilyn Manson.
|Canadian RPM Top Singles||19|
|Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary||20|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||41|
|U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary||35|
|U.S. Cash Box Top 100||29|
|UK Official Charts Company||70|
|US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs (Billboard)||6|
|Australia (ARIA)||7× Platinum||490,000|
|Denmark (IFPI Danmark)||Gold||45,000|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||600,000|
|United States (RIAA)||3× Platinum||3,000,000|
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.
In season 3 episode 1 of Friends The One with the Princess Leia Fantasy, when discussing the most romantic songs, Lisa Kudrow's character Phoebe says that her favorite, the song Tiny Dancer, was in fact written for Tony Danza which she tries to prove by singing the line "Hold me close, young Tony Danza". After a Friends: The Reunion episode Courteney Cox invited Elton John, Ed Sheeran and Brandi Carlile to pay a short tribute to Lisa’s character once famously misquoting the song.