Bennie and the Jets


"Bennie and the Jets" (also titled "Benny & the Jets") is a song written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.[2] The song first appeared on the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album in 1973. "Bennie and the Jets" has been one of John's most popular songs and was performed during his appearance at Live Aid.

"Bennie and the Jets"
Single by Elton John
from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
B-side"Harmony"
Released4 February 1974
RecordedMay 1973
StudioChâteau d'Hérouville, France
GenreGlam rock[1]
Length5:23
LabelMCA, DJM
Songwriter(s)Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Producer(s)Gus Dudgeon
Elton John singles chronology
"Step into Christmas"
(1973)
"Bennie and the Jets"
(1974)
"Candle in the Wind"
(1974)

The track was a massive hit in the United States and Canada, released in 1974 as an A-side and spelt 'Bennie'. In most territories the track was released as the B-side to "Candle in the Wind", but spelt 'Benny'. Album artwork (back-cover track listing and centre-panel design) consistently lists the song as 'Bennie' while either 'Bennie' or 'Benny' appears on the vinyl album depending on territory. The track was released as an A-side in the UK in 1976, as "Benny and the Jets".

Song composition


The song tells of "Bennie and the Jets", a fictional band of whom the song's narrator is a fan. In interviews, Taupin has said that the song's lyrics are a satire on the music industry of the 1970s.[citation needed] The greed and glitz of the early 1970s music scene is portrayed by Taupin's words:

We'll kill the fatted calf tonight, so stick around,
you're gonna hear electric music, solid walls of sound.

Taupin also goes on to describe the flashy wardrobe of "Bennie", the leader of the band:

She's got electric boots, a mohair suit
You know I read it in a magazine Ohh...

Produced by Gus Dudgeon, the song was recorded during the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road sessions in France at Château d'Hérouville's Strawberry Studios,[3] where John and Taupin had recorded their previous two albums, Honky Château and Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player.

John rarely plays the studio version of the song, and often makes subtle or even drastic changes. Live, the piano solo in the middle of the song has been played in all sorts of variations, from very close to the original to wildly improvised and extended versions, such as the elaborate version during a Central Park concert in 1980 and another memorable take on it during the "Elton and his band" part of the show recorded for what would become Live in Australia in December 1986. (It can be seen on various Laserdisc releases of the show.) He has also been known to end the song in a wide range of styles, including classical, swing, boogie-woogie and even using the signature five-note phrase from John Williams' score for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.[citation needed]

Production


Despite sounding as though recorded live, the song was actually recorded in studio, with live sound effects added in later. Producer Gus Dudgeon explained:[4]

For some weird reason, Elton happened to have hit the opening piano chord of the song exactly one bar before the song actually started. So I was doing the mix and this chord kept coming on which you normally wouldn’t expect to hear. I turned to engineer [David Hentschel] and I said, ‘What does that remind you of? … It’s the sort of thing that people do on stage just before they’re going to start a song.’ Just to kind of get everybody, ‘Okay, here we go, ready?’ For some reason that chord being there made me think, ‘Maybe we should fake-live this.’

He mixed in sounds from a 1972 performance of John in Royal Festival Hall and a 1970 Jimi Hendrix concert at the Isle of Wright. [5] He also included a series of whistles from a live concert in Vancouver B.C., and added hand claps and various shouts.[6]

Single release


"Bennie and the Jets" or "Benny and the Jets" was the closing track on side one of the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and John was set against releasing it as a single, believing it would fail. CKLW in Windsor, Ontario, began heavy airplay of the song and it became the #1 song in the Detroit market.[7] This attention caused other American and Canadian Top 40 stations to add it to their playlists as well and as a result, the song peaked at #1 on the US singles chart in 1974. In the US, it was certified Gold on 8 April 1974 and Platinum on 13 September 1995 by the RIAA,[8] and had sold 2.8 million copies by August 1976.[9]

"Bennie and the Jets" was also John's first Top 40 hit on what at the time was called the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart, where it peaked at #15, the highest position out of the three of his singles which reached that chart.[10] The acceptance of "Bennie" on R&B radio helped land John, a huge soul music fan, a guest appearance on the 17 May 1975 edition of Soul Train, where he played "Bennie and the Jets" and "Philadelphia Freedom". In Canada, it held the #1 spot on the RPM national singles chart for two weeks (13–20 April), becoming his first #1 single of 1974 and his fourth overall.[11][12]

Personnel


Music video


In May 2017, an official music video for "Bennie and the Jets" 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 honour 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. "Bennie and the Jets" was designated for the choreography category, and was directed by Jack Whiteley and Laura Brownhill. The video was influenced by early cinema and the work of Busby Berkeley, portraying characters as participants on a talent show auditioning for Bennie.[13][14]

Charts and certifications


Covers & interpolations


  • The Beastie Boys released a cover of this song on their The Sounds of Science album in 1999.[28] The song, titled "Benny and the Jets", was sung by frequent Beastie Boys collaborator Biz Markie, who often mumbles the words while singing. This recording was first released in 1995 as a flexi disc inside of issue two of the Beastie Boys' Grand Royal magazine.[29]
  • Mary J. Blige used many elements from the piano chorus from "Bennie and the Jets" on her single "Deep Inside" (from her 1999 album Mary).[30] Because of the extensive use of the piano parts, both Sir Elton and Bernie Taupin are credited as co-writers of "Deep Inside". An alternative version of the music video for the track features Sir Elton playing the piano on stage.

Mondegreens in the song


The song contains the line "She's got electric boots, a mohair suit", which is often misheard as "She's got electric boobs, and mohair shoes".[31] A scene in the film 27 Dresses shows that this is but one of many mondegreens that listeners have invented for this song.[32]

References


  1. "Elton John: Bennie and the Jets". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  2. Bill Janovitz. "Bennie & the Jets - Elton John | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  3. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road at". Entertainment Weekly. 19 August 2008. Archived from the original on 20 November 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  4. "The Cut: The Making of 'Bennie And The Jets'". Elton John. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  5. https://newmusicunited.com/2016/01/29/elton-john-bennie-and-the-jets-1974/amp/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. "ShieldSquare Captcha". www.songfacts.com. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  7. Karen Bliss (21 January 2016). "The Legacy of Rosalie Trombley, Radio Pioneer Immortalized in Bob Seger's 'Rosalie' and Breaker of 'Bennie and the Jets' | Billboard". Readability.com. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  8. "American single certifications – John, Elton – Bennie _ the Jets". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2 July 2012. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  9. Jahr, Cliff. "Elton John, Lonely at the Top: Rolling Stone's 1976 Cover Story". Rolling Stonedate=2011-02-02. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
  10. Allmusic. "Elton John: Charts and Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  11. "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  12. "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  13. "WATCH: Elton John and Bernie Taupin's 'Tiny Dancer,' 'Rocket Man' and 'Bennie and the Jets' Just Got New Music Videos". People.com. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  14. "Elton John Premieres Three Music Videos for His '70s Classics". Out Magazine. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  15. "Lescharts.com – Elton John – Bennie and the Jets" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  16. "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Bennie and the Jets". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  17. "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Flavourofnz.co.nz. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  18. "Elton John Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  19. "Elton John Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  20. "Elton John Chart History (Hot Rock & Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved April 18, 2021.
  21. "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  22. "Top 100 Hits of 1974/Top 100 Songs of 1974". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  23. "Top 100 Year End Charts: 1974". Cashbox Magazine. Archived from the original on 27 September 2012. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  24. "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  25. "British single certifications – Elton John – Bennie and the Jets". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 18 October 2019. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Bennie and the Jets in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  26. "American single certifications – Elton John – Bennie & the Jets". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 18 October 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  27. "The Sounds of Science at Beastie Boys store". Sammerch.com. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  28. Dearmore, Kelly (28 May 1998). "He got game – Page 1 – Music – Dallas". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  29. "Mary J. Blige - Deep Inside". YouTube.com. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  30. Lawrence DiStasi (29 July 2011). "DiStasiblog: Mondegreens". Distasiblog.blogspot.com. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  31. It’s the perfect “drunken rom-com scene” song, because it’s okay to sing the wrong words to this song; who even knows what the right words are? "Celebrating 10 Years of 27 Dresses' Insane, Iconic 'Bennie and the Jets' Scene". Vulture. 12 January 2018.