Bennie and the Jets
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Bennie and the Jets

"Bennie and the Jets"
Elton John - Bennie and the Jets.jpg
Single by Elton John
from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
"Harmony"
Released 4 February 1974
Recorded May 1973
Studio Château d'Hérouville, France
Genre Glam rock
Length 5:23
Label
Gus Dudgeon
Elton John singles chronology
"Candle in the Wind"
(1974)
"Bennie and the Jets"
(1974)
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
(1974)

"Bennie and the Jets" (also titled as "Benny & the Jets") is a song composed by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.[1] 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 John's appearance at Live Aid. The track is spelled Benny on the sleeve of the single and in the track listing of the album, but Bennie on the album vinyl disc label.[2]

Single release

"Bennie and the Jets" was featured on side one of the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album, and Elton 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.[3] 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,[4] and had sold 2.8 million copies by August 1976.[5]

"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.[6] 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.[7][8]

Song composition

The song tells of "Bennie and the Jets", a fictional band of whom the song's narrator is a fan. The song is written in the key of G major. 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 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,[9] where John and Taupin had recorded their previous two albums, Honky Château 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. In the Eagle Vision documentary on the making of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, John recalled, "I fought tooth and nail against 'Bennie' coming out as a single." 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.'" While mixing the album, Dudgeon came up with the idea of creating a "live from Playhouse Theatre" sound for the track. He added reverb effects, applause and other audience sounds from John's previous concerts and a loop from the Jimi Hendrix live album Isle of Wight, plus whistles, giving it the "live concert recording" feel that has since become a sort of trademark.[]

John rarely plays the song verbatim to the studio version, 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.

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.[10][11]

Chart performance

Covers

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".[25][26] A scene in the film 27 Dresses shows that this is but one of many mondegreens that listeners have invented for this song.[27]

References in popular culture

  • The original Winnipeg Jets NHL team's mascot was named Benny,[28] partially in reference to this song, but primarily after the original owner of the (WHA) team, Ben Hatskin.
  • The band TV Girl released an EP on 25 July 2011, entitled "Benny and the Jetts". It features four songs, the first of which is also titled "Benny and the Jetts", which describes a girl that the singer once knew who was always listening to the song.[29]
  • In Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which also stars John as himself, the main antagonist, Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) owns two robot dogs named Bennie and Jet and also has taken John as a hostage.[]
  • Axl Rose cited it as a song that meant a lot to him as a teenager: "Early Elton John is the baddest!"[30]

References

  1. ^ Bill Janovitz. "Bennie & the Jets - Elton John | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved .
  2. ^ "Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Vinyl, LP, Album)". Discogs.com. Retrieved .
  3. ^ Karen Bliss (2016-01-21). "The Legacy of Rosalie Trombley, Radio Pioneer Immortalized in Bob Seger's 'Rosalie' and Breaker of 'Bennie and the Jets' | Billboard". Readability.com. Retrieved .
  4. ^ "American single certifications - John, Elton - Bennie _ the Jets". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved .If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.
  5. ^ Jahr, Cliff. "Elton John, Lonely at the Top: Rolling Stone's 1976 Cover Story". Rolling Stonedate=2011-02-02. Retrieved .
  6. ^ Allmusic. "Elton John: Charts and Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 2013.
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2011.
  8. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2011.
  9. ^ "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road at". Entertainment Weekly. 19 August 2008. Archived from the original on 20 November 2009. Retrieved 2011.
  10. ^ "WATCH: Elton John and Bernie Taupin's 'Tiny Dancer,' 'Rocket Man' and 'Bennie and the Jets' Just Got New Music Videos". People.com. Retrieved 2017.
  11. ^ "Elton John Premieres Three Music Videos for His '70s Classics". Out Magazine. Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ "Lescharts.com - Elton John - Bennie and the Jets" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  13. ^ "The Irish Charts - Search Results - Bennie and the Jets". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  14. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Flavourofnz.co.nz. Retrieved .
  15. ^ "Elton John Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  16. ^ "Elton John Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  17. ^ [1][dead link]
  18. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. Retrieved .
  19. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1974/Top 100 Songs of 1974". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved .
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 October 2014. Retrieved .
  21. ^ "The Sounds of Science at Beastie Boys store". Sammerch.com. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 2011.
  22. ^ Dearmore, Kelly (28 May 1998). "He got game - Page 1 - Music - Dallas". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 2011.
  23. ^ "VH1 Video on YouTube. Early 1970s performance on the Sonny and Cher Show". Youtube. 14 February 2008. Retrieved 2011.
  24. ^ "BØRNS covers Elton John: Bennie and the Jets. Independent SF, 3/12/15 - YouTube". M.youtube.com. Retrieved .
  25. ^ "mondegreens - misunderstood song lyrics". Corsinet.com. Retrieved .
  26. ^ Lawrence DiStasi (2011-07-29). "DiStasiblog: Mondegreens". Distasiblog.blogspot.com. Retrieved .
  27. ^ Kris Norton (30 May 2014). "Top 12 Most Hilarious Misheard Lyrics".
  28. ^ "Photo of Benny, Winnipeg Jets mascot". Winnipegjetsonline.com. Retrieved 2011.
  29. ^ "TV Girl Bandcamp Site for 'Benny and the Jetts'". Tvgirl.bandcamp.com. Retrieved 2014.
  30. ^ Wall, Mick (January 2002). "Eve of destruction". Classic Rock #36. p. 95.

External links


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