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"Empty Sky"
Song by Elton John

from the album Empty Sky

Released June 3, 1969 (UK)
January 13, 1975 (USA)
Recorded DJM Studios, 1969
Genre Rock, Psychedelic rock, Pop
Length 8:28
Label DJM Records
MCA Records (US/Canada-1975)
Writer Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Producer Steve Brown
Empty Sky track listing
"Empty Sky"

For the Bruce Springsteen song, see The Rising (album).

"Empty Sky" is a song by Elton John with lyrics by Bernie Taupin. It is the first track off his first album, Empty Sky, released in 1969.


Musical structure

It was the first song John ever released on an album. It opens with an unusual congas beat which gets accompagnied by piano and then bass before the drums and guitars kicks off and starts the first verse. They all last throughout the song. It is a very simple song, a somewhat bluesy riff that just goes one note up in the choruses. It also features a backwards guitar solo, giving it a psychedelic feel. Then, all the music fades down to a very low volume, and the vocal is more audible. It is whispered, a very unusual feature, before fading in and exploding in a final jam. The song then ends, clocking as one of John's longest ever recorded at eight and a half minutes.

According to excerpts of John's diary, the music was composed on January 7, 1969.

Lyrical meaning

Like many of Taupin's earliest compositions, it deals with imprisonment and the wish for "freedom". It was written in his teenage years. The song deals with a man who wants to be free as a bird, to be with the others. Many early songs is cathegorized the same, such as the earliest success, "Skyline Pigeon".


When the album came out, John had only done sparse radio performances. It was one of the songs performed there during the rest of the year. In 1970, things started to change, mostly musically, and the album was forgotten. It wasn't until the peak of his career, 1975, that the album saw an American release. It was performed on his 1975-1976 tour of North America as a center-piece. The song would often progress into a live jam, some reportedly 18-20 minutes long. The song has not been performed since.

On that tour appeared both drummer Roger Pope and guitarist Caleb Quaye. They also played on the album, and on this song.




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