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"Bennie and the Jets"
Single by Elton John
from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
B-side "Harmony"
Released February 4, 1974
Genre Rock
Length 5:10
Label MCA (US/Canada)
DJM Records
Writer(s) Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Elton John singles chronology
"Candle in the Wind"
(1974)
Bennie and the Jets
(1974)
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
(1974)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road track listing
Side One
  1. "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding"
  2. "Candle in the Wind"
  3. "Bennie and the Jets"
Side Two
  1. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"
  2. "This Song Has No Title"
  3. "Grey Seal"
  4. "Jamaica Jerk-Off"
  5. "I've Seen That Movie Too"
Side Three
  1. "Sweet Painted Lady"
  2. "The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1903-34)"
  3. "Dirty Little Girl"
  4. "All the Girls Love Alice"
Side Four
  1. "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock 'n' Roll)"
  2. "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting"
  3. "Roy Rogers"
  4. "Social Disease"
  5. "Harmony"

"Bennie and the Jets" is a song composed by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.[1] The song is written in the key of G major and first appeared on the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album in 1973. "Bennie and the Jets" has been one of John's most popular songs.

The song tells of "Bennie and the Jets", a fictional band of whom Elton John is a supposed fan. In interviews, Taupin has said that the song's lyrics are a satire on the music industry of the 1970s. The greed and glitz of the early '70s 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...

Elton John was set against releasing "Bennie and the Jets" on side one of the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album, and was against releasing it as a single, believing it would fail. The song peaked at number one on the singles charts in 1974."[2] Bennie and the Jets" was also John's first Top 40 hit on the R&B charts.

Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses has stated that he was listening to "Bennie and the Jets" and that inspired him to become a singer.[3]

Contents

Song composition

The song was recorded in France at Château d'Hérouville's Strawberry Studios,[4] where John and Taupin had recorded their previous two albums, Honky Chateau and Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player.

After recording the song in the studio, John and the band worried that it was too plain and unoriginal. According to guitarist Davey Johnstone, "'Bennie and the Jets' was one of the oddest songs we ever recorded. We just sat back and said, 'This is really odd'." Gus Dudgeon, who produced Goodbye Yellow Brick Road as well as most of John's albums up to that point, added the "live from Playhouse Theatre" sound to the track. Dudgeon added applause and audience sounds from John's previous concerts, plus whistles.

While John rarely plays the same song the same way, and often makes subtle or even drastic changes, 'Bennie' is a slight exception. During live renditions, the solo in the middle of the song is played exactly the same way live as it was recorded. An exception to this can be heard on the 1976 live release, "Here and There", where John significantly changes the solo in the bridge. The ending is almost always improvised in a variety of styles (and, at times, for a number of minutes) including classical, swing and, perhaps most notably, boogie-woogie.

Covers

References in popular culture

  • New York Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde was refered to as "Vinny and the Jets"
  • The now defunct Winnipeg Jets NHL team's mascot was named Benny,[8] in reference to this song.
  • The mascot of Australian football club Newcastle United Jets FC is named Benny, again, as a reference to the song.
  • Kickboxing champion Benny Urquidez is nicknamed "Benny the Jet."
  • In the movie 27 Dresses, the two main characters sing "Bennie and the Jets" at a bar, partially incorrectly in jest. They also continue to mention the song after that scene.
  • On the show The Office, Andy Bernard sings "Andy and the Tuna" to the tune of "Bennie and the Jets".
  • The title and slow, vamping style of the Ben Folds song "Hiroshima (B-B-B-Benny Hit His Head)" are a homage to "Bennie and the Jets".
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, the character Lenny remarks that he thought their gang's name would be "Lenny and the Jets".
  • The song also features in the movies Sliding Doors and Running with Scissors, both starring actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
  • The song is in the film My Girl 2, when Anna Chlumsky (Vada) and Austin O'Brien (Nick) go out for a walk at night in Los Angeles. The scene occurs about 49 minutes into the movie.
  • The song is also parodied in an episode of Futurama (as 'Pharaoh And His Pets') in which Bender becomes a pharaoh.
  • The song was used in the opening credits of the 1975 film Aloha, Bobby And Rose written and directed by Floyd Mutrux.

Notes

  1. ^ Bennie and the Jets at allmusic.com
  2. ^ Bennie and the Jets at Billboard's Hot 100 Chart Listing For The Week Of Apr 13 1974
  3. ^ Elton John induction page at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  4. ^ Goodbye Yellow Brick Road at wnew.com
  5. ^ The Sounds of Science at Beastie Boys store
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ VH1 Video on YouTube. Early 1970's performance on the Sonny and Cher Show.
  8. ^ Photo of Benny, Winnipeg Jets mascot.
Preceded by
"Hooked on a Feeling" by Blue Swede
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
April 13, 1974
Succeeded by
"TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" by MFSB featuring The Three Degrees
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