Meaning of Sacrifice by Elton John
The Meaning Behind “Sacrifice” by Elton John
Elton John is one of the most successful and influential artists of all time, with a career spanning over five decades and countless hits. Among his many classics, one song stands out for its emotional depth and timeless appeal: “Sacrifice”.
“Sacrifice” is a ballad that was released in 1989 as the second single from John’s 22nd studio album, Sleeping with the Past. The song was written by John and his longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin, who have been working together since 1967. Chris Thomas, who has also worked with legends like The Beatles, Queen, and INXS, produced the song.
The song deals with the theme of love and the sacrifices we sometimes have to make in relationships. The lyrics depict a relationship on the verge of collapse, where both partners struggle to find common ground and hold on to what they once had. John sings that it’s no sacrifice at all, it’s just “two hearts living in two separate worlds”.
The song was inspired by John’s own personal experiences in his life. In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2019, Elton John stated that “Sacrifice” was written during a time when he was fighting to save his own marriage. John’s wife, Renate Blauel, whom he married in 1984, was reportedly struggling with the media attention and scrutiny that came with being married to one of the biggest pop stars in the world.
The song also draws inspiration from John’s own relationships with his parents. John’s parents divorced when he was young, and he has said that he struggled to find parental guidance in his life. This theme of sacrifice and loss is evident in the lyrics where John sings, “Cold, cold heart / Hardened by you / Some things look better, baby / Just passing through”.
The song was initially released as a single in 1989 but did not achieve much success. It peaked at number 55 in the UK and number 18 in the US. However, in mid-1990, the song gained popularity after being played by several radio DJs in the UK. The song was then re-released as a double A-side single, along with “Healing Hands”, another song from the same album. This time, the song reached number one in the UK, becoming John’s first solo chart-topper there. It also topped the charts in France and numerous other countries.
The song received critical acclaim for its melody and lyrics, but also some criticism for its production and sentimentality. David Giles from Music Week wrote, “Probably the best track from his slightly disappointing recent LP. Elton’s in subdued, wistful mood — it’s a ballad, and that’s where his strength lies those days — but it bears the stamp of true songwriting genius, the innate sense of which chord goes next to make the most interesting tune.” On the other hand, Iestyn George of Record Mirror described “Sacrifice” as “a hackneyed old ballad written by Bernie Taupin (also responsible for one of Cliff Richard’s recent aberrations) which is blown out of all proportion in the production suite”.
Yasmeen Ghauri, a supermodel, and Chris Isaak, a singer-songwriter, appeared in Alek Keshishian’s music video for the song “Sacrifice.” The video 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.
The song has been covered by many artists over the years, such as Sinéad O’Connor, Gregorian, Don Henley and Vince Gill, and Karen Elson. The song has also been sampled by Dua Lipa and Elton John himself in their collaboration “Cold Heart”.
“Sacrifice” is a song that resonates with many listeners who have experienced love and loss in their lives. It is a song that showcases John’s talent as a singer and songwriter, as well as his vulnerability as a human being. It is a song that reminds us that sometimes love requires sacrifice, but sometimes it doesn’t. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them below.