A Single Man (album)

A Single Man is the twelfth studio album by English singer-songwriter Elton John. Released in 1978, it is the first album where Gary Osborne replaced Bernie Taupin as lyricist. It is also the first of two (the second being Victim of Love) Elton John albums to not have any tracks co-written by Bernie Taupin on the original cut.

A Single Man
Studio album by
Released16 October 1978
RecordedJanuary – September 1978
StudioThe Mill, Cookham, Berks
GenreRock, pop, disco
LabelMCA (US)
Rocket (UK)
ProducerClive Franks, Elton John
Elton John chronology
Greatest Hits Volume II
A Single Man
The Thom Bell Sessions
Singles from A Single Man
  1. "Part-Time Love"
    Released: 4 October 1978
  2. "Song for Guy"
    Released: 28 November 1978
  3. "Return to Paradise"
    Released: 1979


A Single Man is the first of John's albums to not include lyricist Bernie Taupin, and the first since his debut Empty Sky without producer Gus Dudgeon. The returning members of his band are percussionist Ray Cooper and guitarist Davey Johnstone; the latter played on only one song on the album. Paul Buckmaster would not appear on another Elton John album until Made in England. Unlike previous compositions in which lyrics came first, John began writing melodies at a piano and an album unintentionally came about from this. This was also John's first album in which he started singing in a lower register. "Song for Guy" was written as a tribute to Guy Burchett, a young Rocket messenger who was killed in a motorcycle accident.

The staff and players of Watford Football Club, of whom John was chairman at the time, provide backing vocals on both "Big Dipper" and "Georgia". Also featured on these tracks are the backing vocals of the female staff from John's record label, Rocket Records, credited as 'The South Audley Street Girls' Choir'.

The photo for the front cover was taken in the Long Walk, which is part of Windsor Great Park in Berkshire. The inside cover shows John in a Jaguar XK140 FHC. John stopped wearing his trademark glasses in public for a period during the late 1970s, and the album photo reflects this.


The album was released on 16 October 1978 by MCA in America, and by Rocket in the UK. Singles from the album were "Part-Time Love", October 1978; "Song for Guy", November 1978; and "Return to Paradise", 1979. "Song for Guy" was a near-global success, charting high everywhere except the US and Canada, where John's label, MCA Records, did not feel that it had hit potential, in spite of the recent success of the instrumental "Music Box Dancer".[citation needed]

A Single Man was John's first album ever to be officially released in the former USSR, though his previous releases had been smuggled into the country in various forms. It was released following the success of his A Single Man in Concert shows in Moscow and Leningrad, though it differed in two ways from its release elsewhere. Firstly, the album was re-titled Poyot Elton John ["Elton John sings" in Russian]. Secondly, on some prints, both "Big Dipper" and "Part-Time Love" were removed, due to the subject matter of the songs. Curiously, John had performed "Part-Time Love" at the USSR shows without objection from Soviet officials.


In the US, A Single Man was certified gold in October 1978 and platinum in November of the same year by the RIAA. As with many of John's releases of the late-70s and the 1980s, it received generally mixed reviews from critics.

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideC[2]
Rolling Stone(not rated)[3]

Later releases

The 1998 reissue has five bonus tracks, the first two being the 1978 flop-single "Ego", and its B-side "Flinstone Boy". The next two tracks are the B-sides of "Part-Time Love" and "Song for Guy" ("I Cry at Night" and "Lovesick" respectively), and the last track, "Strangers", originally B-side of his 1979 disco-album title track, "Victim of Love". Some releases of his 1980 album, 21 at 33, also have "Strangers" as a bonus track.

Promotion and live performances

At the time of release, John performed some songs from the album on shows such as Bruce Forsyth's Big Night (performing "Part-Time Love"), Countdown (miming "Georgia" and "Madness"), The Old Grey Whistle Test (performing "Shooting Star" and "Song for Guy"), The Morecambe & Wise Show (performing "Shine on Through"), Parkinson (performing "Song for Guy"), Rockpop (miming "Return to Paradise" and "Part-Time Love") and Top of the Pops (miming "Part-Time Love" and performing "Song for Guy"). He performed two solo sets: one for MCA personnel at the Century Plaza Hotel on 14 October 1978 (performing "Shine on Through", "Return to Paradise" and "Song for Guy") and the other at a RTL studio on 20 October 1978 (performing "Part-Time Love", "Shooting Star" and "Song for Guy"). John's tour in 1979 included songs from the album ("Part-Time Love" and "Song for Guy").

Since that period, songs other than "Song for Guy" have not been performed.

Track listing

All tracks are written by Elton John and Gary Osborne, except where noted.

Side one
1."Shine on Through"3:45
2."Return to Paradise"4:15
3."I Don't Care"4:23
4."Big Dipper"4:04
5."It Ain't Gonna Be Easy"8:27
Side two
1."Part-Time Love"3:16
3."Shooting Star"2:44
5."Reverie" (John)0:53
6."Song for Guy" (John)6:35
Total length:48:46
  • Sides one and two were combined as tracks 1–11 on CD reissues.
Bonus tracks (1998 Mercury reissue)
12."Ego" (John, Bernie Taupin)4:00
13."Flinstone Boy" (John)4:13
14."I Cry at Night" (John, Taupin)3:16
15."Lovesick" (John, Taupin)3:59
Total length:69:00


Song Format
"I Cry at Night""Part-Time Love" 7" (US/UK)
"Lovesick""Song for Guy" 7" (US/UK)


Track numbering refers to CD and digital releases of the album.


  • Producers – Clive Franks and Elton John
  • Supervising Producer – Mike Gill
  • Engineers – Phil Dunne, Stuart Epps, Clive Franks and Peter Mew.
  • Mixing – Phil Dunne, Stuart Epps and Clive Franks.
  • Mastered by Ian Cooper at Utopia Studios (London, UK).
  • Digital Remastering – Gus Dudgeon
  • Coordination – David Croker and Alex Foster
  • Sleeve Design – David Costa
  • Graphic Design – Mike Storey
  • Photography – Terry O'Neill
  • Liner Editor – John Tobler
  • Liner Notes – Chris White
  • Management – John Reid



Region CertificationCertified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[20] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[21] Gold 100,000*
Netherlands (NVPI)[22] Gold 50,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[23] Platinum 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[24] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[25] Platinum 1,000,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. A Single Man at AllMusic
  2. Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: J". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved 27 February 2019 via robertchristgau.com.
  3. "A Single Man – Album Review". Rolling Stone. 25 January 1979. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  4. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  5. Library and Archives Canada. Archived 15 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 29 February 2012
  6. "dutchcharts.nl Elton John – A Single Man" (ASP). dutchcharts.nl (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  7. "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste : Elton John" (in French). infodisc.fr. Archived from the original (PHP) on 10 September 2013. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  8. "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1979" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  9. Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  10. "charts.nz Elton John – A Single Man" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  11. "norwegiancharts.com Elton John – A Single Man" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  12. Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  13. "swedishcharts.com Elton John – A Single Man" (ASP). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  14. "The Official Charts Company – Elton John – A Single Man" (PHP). Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  15. "allmusic ((( A Single Man > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  16. "Album Search: Elton John – A Single Man" (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  17. "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1978". RPM. Archived from the original on 19 June 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  18. "Les Albums (CD) de 1978 par InfoDisc" (in French). infodisc.fr. Archived from the original (PHP) on 11 July 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  19. "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Archived from the original on 19 May 2012. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  20. "Canadian album certifications – Elton John – Single Man". Music Canada.
  21. "French album certifications – Elton John – A Single Man" (in French). InfoDisc. Select ELTON JOHN and click OK. 
  22. "Dutch album certifications – Elton John – Single Man" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Enter Single Man in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  23. "New Zealand album certifications – Elton John – A Single Man". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  24. "British album certifications – Elton John – Single Man". British Phonographic Industry.
  25. "American album certifications – Elton John – Single Man". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.