Christmas Ads, “Your Song” and Music from Moulin Rouge!

A couple of years ago I decided to write about the Randy Crawford song One Day I’ll Fly Away (link here) which featured in the 2016 John Lewis Christmas ad. It led me to share the version performed by Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann’s lavish movie Moulin Rouge!. Her male co-star and love interest in that movie was Ewan McGregor, my favourite Scottish actor.

One of the film’s very memorable duets was Elephant Love Medley, compiled from 13 different love songs – If you are around my age, you will recognise all of them. They came just too thick and fast when I watched the song being performed first time around, but once home, and with the newly purchased CD in the player (it was 17 years ago now), it was easier to identify them. The final song used for the medley, later on performed in full by Mr McGregor, was Elton John’s Your Song. Lo and behold, it’s the song the John Lewis people have used for their newly released 2018 Christmas ad. Two songs from the film Moulin Rouge! in three years – I’m starting to suspect the agency that put these things together are fans!

As luck would have it, I also wrote about Your Song two years ago, as it followed on nicely because of the Moulin Rouge! connection. Long term visitors to this place might recognise what is to follow from back then, but worthy of another outing I feel:

Originally published November 2016

Your Song was originally released back in 1970, and although I know it well, I had been too young back then to really appreciate those great lyrics by Elton’s long-time collaborator, Bernie Taupin. By the time I was a teenager in 1973, Elton John was one of the biggest singer/composer/musicians on the planet, his albums “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” having received massive critical acclaim. But, at that time my focus was very much on my oh so good-looking teen idols, the Donnys and the Davids. Elton by this time had embraced the full glam-rock persona, with ever more outrageous outfits, glasses and footwear, but not someone I saw as a potential teen idol.

elton
One of Elton’s outrageous outfits!

This is a roundabout way of saying that it was not until going to see Moulin Rouge! in 2001 that I truly appreciated the sentiment of Your Song. Maybe it’s the old romantic in me, but what a wonderful thing I thought, to have a song written specially for you which includes the line: “How wonderful life is, while you’re in the world”. Unlike Pattie Boyd, who seems to have had oh so many songs written about how wonderful it was to have her in the world, I am pretty sure no-one has ever written a song for me. At best there may have been a limerick or rhyme in a Valentine card at some point, but still perhaps time if Mr WIAA decides to take up the art of song-writing in later life! The really ironic thing is that his real-life profession is actually mentioned in the song, but in a bit of a derogatory fashion. Yes it is a great source of mirth in our house that one of the lines from Your Song goes as follows: “If I were a sculptor (bit of aside laughter at the ridiculousness of the suggestion), but then again, no”. It turns out that Bernie Taupin decided it would be preferable being “a man who makes potions in a travelling show” than to be a sculptor, although I beg to differ.

Your Song by Elton John:

So, “What’s It All About?” – It’s good in later life to revisit songs you may not have truly appreciated first time around, because you were just far too busy swooning over your latest teen idol, who happened to have great hair, teeth, waistcoats and headwear. (That would be Donny Osmond in his trademark purple cap then!) I sadly did not appreciate Your Song first time around, so was glad to rediscover it properly after watching Baz Luhrmann’s lavish film.

Until next time, here is the Moulin Rouge! version of the song, Baz Luhrmann style. Both have their merits but it’s the simple pared down version by Elton for me now – Unlike Pattie Boyd I may never have any songs written for me, or about me, but in the meantime a nice piece of sculptural jewellery will do nicely. The man who makes potions in a travelling show is not the one for me!

Your Song Lyrics
(Song by Elton John/Bernie Taupin)

It’s a little bit funny this feeling inside
I’m not one of those who can easily hide
I don’t have much money but boy if I did
I’d buy a big house where we both could live

If I was a sculptor, but then again, no
Or a man who makes potions in a traveling show
I know it’s not much but it’s the best I can do
My gift is my song and this one’s for you

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world

I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss
Well a few of the verses well they’ve got me quite cross
But the sun’s been quite kind while I wrote this song
It’s for people like you that keep it turned on

So excuse me forgetting but these things I do
You see I’ve forgotten if they’re green or they’re blue
Anyway the thing is what I really mean
Yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen

And you can tell everybody this is your song
It may be quite simple but now that it’s done
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

20 thoughts on “Christmas Ads, “Your Song” and Music from Moulin Rouge!”

  1. In general, I’m not a fan of Elton’s songs, but I have a soft spot for a few that were on his first album, with “Your Song” being a favourite back in the early ’70s. Though it’s a love song, and I guess it’s supposed to be upbeat, I always found it to have a sad undertone or maybe that’s just a carry-over from circumstances back then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Marie – I know you do because I’ve just looked back and spotted that you were the first to leave a comment when I wrote about the song 2 years ago – Can you believe it’s been that long?

      You are right though, I don’t know if it’s the piano or just the lyrics but it does have a sad undertone. A tale of unrequited love I think.

      Hope all well with you?

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    1. Ah the punishing touring schedule – Poor old Elton is throwing in the towel but we’ll no doubt see him out and about on short tours in the years to come. He has a young family so the school run is taking priority nowadays I think. Would be funny to roll up at school for the annual concert and find Elton in the audience. “Any parents willing to come up and sing?”

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  2. I went on a date seeing Moulin Rouge! (2001), a film that is associated with that memory. The soundtrack was released when I was in high school so got quite a bit of airplay at the time. One Day I’ll Fly Away and Your Song are good covers, I was pretty impressed by the singing of Kidman/ McGregor! I agree Elton John’s is the best Your Song though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not sure if going to see Moulin Rouge! for a first date was a good idea – Great film I thought with great music, but a lot to live up to on the romance stakes! I did love Ewan’s version of Your Song at the time, but it’s Elton’s original version for me now, no question.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. She wanted to see it but in retrospect not a good date movie. I tried to hold her hand mid-movie and made a fool of myself and it was really awkward after that. But an important learning experience when I was young! And we all have/need those bad dates I guess 🙂

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        1. Poor you – First dates at the cinema can be tricky. I was once asked to go and see a film with a boy who I always thought of as really “cool”. I was nearest to the aisle so went to get the ice creams at the interval (we used to have those!) – As it was dark I didn’t notice that one of the seats had been left down so on the way back fell over it, and covered him in ice cream. Mortified or what!

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  3. As you can probably guess I’m not too keen on Elton (nor on John Lewis ads!) but all power to him for his early material as mentioned by John. Ooh, my ego loves the thought of having a song written for/about me! In the early days of going out with Mr SDS, he did compose a little something on his guitar using the chords which spell out the three initials of my name. Very good it was too. No lyrics!

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    1. This was a bit of lazy blogging as just re-sharing a post I’d written before, but was taken by the fact two of the JL ads in the last three years have featured show stopping songs from Moulin Rouge. I remember you told us last time that you’d had a piece of music “written” for you on the guitar – Guessing there were a fair few C chords in there! Hard to believe that was 2 years ago now though – Time flies past so quickly on the blogosphere and back then I was still in my job, and my mum was doing ok. How things change.

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      1. Oh Alyson, I just went back and found the original post and my comment and I said practically the same thing – how predictable am I – sorry! I had forgotten what I’d written and not checked. Oh well at least I didn’t contradict myself 🙂
        Time does indeed pass incredibly quickly and it’s a shock to realise sometimes that it’s years rather than the months it feels like which have passed. How much can change in that time too, as you say. Sobering stuff. Here’s to some stability for a while.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. No need to be sorry, I am the one who should be apologising for having reposted the same blog from 2 years ago. You are right though, at least you didn’t contradict yourself!

          As for the changes that have happened since that time, so many, and it’s kind of thrown me. I will always have fond memories of 2016 as it was the year I discovered blogging and really enjoyed the whole “journey”. 2017 was a weird year as I threw in the towel at work, so said farewell to colleagues I’d worked with for 30 years. 2018 has been spent trying to look after my mum whose health really failed this year – Had a sad afternoon going through her flat, finding all those personal items that conjure up fond memories for me. Going to be hard deciding what to do with everything, but it’ll have to be done. Let’s hope 2019 is a better one for all of us (then again looking at all the political shenanigans, I have my doubts) – A bloggers summit might be just the thing to cheer us all up!

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  4. I don’t normally have any truck with sentimental Christmas ads, but the first time I saw that Elton John ad, I choked up. I’m not going to watch it again in case it becomes a regular thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve not been a fan of Elton’s voice for a long time but as we ended up back at the beginning, it all just worked. Having checked out what his childhood was like they’ve stayed true to his life story. Now that you’re a dad of a small boy it will have really resonated. That kind of ad always got to me when DD was a youngster.

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