“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” is a song written by English singer-songwriter Elton John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin. It was released as the first single from Elton John’s 1974 album Caribou; it was released that year during the latter half of May in the United Kingdom, and on 10 June in the United States. The song found further success in 1991 in a version recorded live as a duet between John and George Michael which reached number 1 in the UK and US.
1974 Elton John version
Lyrics and music
In the song, Elton sings to someone he has helped and from whom he is now experiencing rejection:
I took a chance and changed your way of life
but you misread my meaning when I met you
closed the door and left me blinded by the light
don’t let the sun go down on me
although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see.
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free
but losing everything is like the sun going down on me.
It was written with the other songs on the album during a ten-day period in January 1974.
The chorus of the song is supported with a horn arrangement by Del Newman, and features backing vocals of the Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston, and Toni Tennille. Also on the song are percussion accents provided by Ray Cooper and a mellotron played by Dave Hentschel.
“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” charted on 1 June 1974 in Great Britain, making it to number 16 and reached the Top 10 after four weeks. On 10 August, the song’s two-week stay at number 2 ended. In the U.S., it was certified Gold on 6 September 1974 by the RIAA. In Canada, it reached number 1, becoming his fifth chart topper in that country.