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"The Scaffold"
Song by Elton John

from the album Empty Sky

Released June 3, 1969 (UK)
January 13, 1975 (USA)
Recorded DJM Studios, 1969
Genre Pop, Psychedelic rock, Alternative
Length 3:18
Label DJM Records
MCA Records (US/Canada-1975)
Writer Elton John, Bernie Taupin
Producer Steve Brown
Empty Sky track listing
"The Scaffold"
"Skyline Pigeon"

"The Scaffold" is a song by Elton John with lyrics by Bernie Taupin. It is the seventh track off his first album, Empty Sky.


Musical structure

It opens with a bluesy minor-key electric piano, before going into a somewhat quiet, relaxed main riff. A rhythm section plays a steady beat, but is more silent compared to other tracks. It changes between major and minor keys, making the music very confusing.

Lyrical meaning

Taupin wrote the song as a tribute to The Scaffold, a group of comedians, musicians and poets from Liverpool. One of the members were Mike McGear, Paul McCartney's baby brother. The song praises them in the chorus, but the verses are very cryptic and mysterious. One might think that the influence could have been Bob Dylan; the first two verses go:

"In Orient where wise I was
To please the way I live
Come give the beggar chance at hand
His life is on his lip

Three score a thousand times
Were once in Amazon
Where Eldorado holds the key
No keeper holds my hand"

John appeared on some of The Scaffold's album as a musician. Both John and Taupin were big fans.


Along with the previous song on the album, "Sails", this was also performed on John's first solo radio performance. Since then, it hasn't been played in any format.




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