This week in our ever-popular Behind The Lyrics segment is Elton John’s song “Tiny Dancer” from his 1971 album Madman Across The Water.
The ’70s were of course a time for drug taking and music making and the genesis of this song isn’t any different. Everybody knows that cocaine was Elton John’s favourite substance back in the day, but what people don’t know is that Bernie Taupin (Elton’s lyrical collaborator) was fond of drugs too. Aside from the odd paracetamol, Taupin experimented with magic mushrooms and microdots, and Bernie wrote this particular ditty whilst high on LSD. Benie’s acid trip led to him composing weird lyrics which include babies wearing denim jeans and ballerinas dancing on the beach. The trippiest of all the lines however, are those in the chorus…
“Hold me closer Tony Danza
Count the head lice on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of Lenin
You hired a busy day today”
Even to this day, nobody really knows what Bernie Taupin’s lyrics mean but the strangest thing is that Tony Danza didn’t become a famous actor until 1978! That batch of lysergic acid diethylamide was powerful stuff man, so powerful that Bernie saw into the future. Far out! No wonder they had to change the title of the song to “Tiny Dancer”: to throw the fuzz off the scent.