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Sacrifice (Elton John song): Wikis


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Single by Elton John
from the album Sleeping with the Past
B-side "Love is a Cannibal"
(first release)
"Healing Hands"
(second release)
Released 1989 (first release)
1990 (second release)
Genre Pop
Length 5:07
Label Rocket Records
MCA Records (US/Canada)
Writer(s) Elton John
Bernie Taupin
Producer Chris Thomas
Certification Silver France, 1990
Elton John singles chronology
"Healing Hands"
"Club at the End of the Street"

"Sacrifice" is a ballad performed by musician Elton John. The lyrics are by Bernie Taupin and music by Elton John. The song appears on the 1989 album Sleeping with the Past. It was first released in October of 1989, then in 1990, and was the second single from the album. It achieved success, particularly in France and UK.


Background and writing

"Sacrifice" is inspired both by the Aretha Franklin song "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" and said to be like a Percy Sledge song by Elton. The influence of Percy Sledge is present in Elton's vocals. The song is beloved by both Elton John and Bernie Taupin and deemed a bookend of sorts to their first hit "Your Song". Bernie has said he is surprised he wrote it, and said in an interview, "I think 'Sacrifice' is one of the best songs we've written." The song is not a typical love song, but rather a song about a breakup of a marriage where the loss of the relationship is "no sacrifice." Taupin was going through marital problems at the time, which served as inspiration for the song.

Although the single was successful, Elton John did not tour Europe in both 1989-1990 to support the Sleeping with the Past album (with exception to one appearance in Knebworth Park on June 30, 1990) touring only in the U.S. and Australia. The 1989 European tour was, instead, in support of the Reg Strikes Back album, with no material representing Sleeping with the Past. In all shows that were done to support Sleeping with the Past in 1989-1990, Elton played this song solo on his RD-1000 Roland Digital Piano.

Music video

The video, which follows the song's lyrics, portrays a man and woman having problems in their relationship after being married and raising a daughter. After they go their separate ways, the man raises his daughter alone.

Cover versions

"Sacrifice" was covered by Sinéad O'Connor for the 1991 Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin tribute album.

The song was also covered by the German music project Gregorian, for their 3rd album.

Chart performances

Sacrifice was initially released as a single in 1989, but stalled at #55 in the UK charts and at #18 in the US charts during January of 1990. By the next year English DJ, Steve Wright, began playing the song on BBC Radio 1, soon followed by many more radio DJs. The song was then re-released as a double A-side single, along with "Healing Hands", and reached #1 in the UK on or about late June or early July, 1990. Thus, it became John's first independent number-one single along with "Healing Hands" on the UK Singles Chart, remaining on the top spot for six weeks, as it became his first hits of the 1990s. With this re-release, Elton John also got his first number one in France and stayed on the chart for 26 weeks.

Track listings

First release
12" single - UK
  1. "Sacrifice" — 5:07
  2. "Love Is a Cannibal" (From the Columbia Motion Picture Ghostbusters II) — 3:53
CD single - U.S.
  1. "Sacrifice" — 5:07
  2. "Love Is a Cannibal" (from the Columbia Motion Picture Ghostbusters II) — 3:53
  3. "Durban Deep"
Second release
12" single - UK
  1. "Sacrifice" — 5:07
  2. "Healing Hands" — 4:22

Certifications and sales

Country Certification Date Sales certified Physical sales
France Silver[1] 1990 200,000 380,000[2]
UK[3] Platinum September 1, 1990 600,000


Chart (1989) Peak
UK Singles Chart[4] 55
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks[5] 3
Chart (1990) Peak
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[6] 7
French SNEP Singles Chart[7] 1
German Singles Chart[8] 36
Irish Singles Chart[9] 2
Norwegian Singles Chart[10] 2
Swiss Singles Chart[11] 23
UK Singles Chart[12] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[5] 18
End of year chart (1990) Position
Australian Singles Chart[13] 47
Preceded by
"Words" by The Christians
French SNEP number-one single
May 26, 1990 - June 9, 1990 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Bo le lavabo (WC Kiss)" by Lagaf'
Preceded by
"World In Motion" by Englandneworder
UK number-one single
June 23, 1990 - July 21, 1990 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Turtle Power" by Partners in Kryme


  1. ^ French certifications (Retrieved September 9, 2008)
  2. ^ Elton John's certifications and singles in France See: "Les Ventes" => "Toutes les certifications depuis 1973" => "JOHN Elton" (Retrieved December 5, 2007)
  3. ^ UK certifications (Retrieved September 9, 2008)
  4. ^ "Sacrifice", UK Singles Chart (Retrieved September 9, 2008)
  5. ^ a b Billboard (Retrieved September 9, 2008)
  6. ^ "Sacrifice", Australian Singles Chart (Retrieved December 13, 2007)
  7. ^ "Sacrifice", French Singles Chart (Retrieved December 13, 2007)
  8. ^ German Singles Chart (Retrieved September 9, 2008)
  9. ^ Irish Single Chart (Retrieved September 9, 2008)
  10. ^ "Sacrifice", Norwegian Singles Chart (Retrieved December 13, 2007)
  11. ^ "Sacrifice", Swiss Singles Chart (Retrieved December 13, 2007)
  12. ^ "Sacrifice" (1990 release), UK Singles Chart (Retrieved September 9, 2008)
  13. ^ 1990 Australian Singles Chart (Retrieved September 3, 2008)


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