20 songs that were inspired by famous people

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Elton John – “Candle in the Wind”

The original version of “Candle in the Wind” that Elton John released in 1973 was about Marilyn Monroe. And there is simply no disputing that fact. In the lyrics themselves he mentions the starlet by name, both her stage name and her given name.

He repeats, “Goodbye Norma Jean,” a few times (Norma Jean was Monroe’s birth name), and then later in the song he says a line that ends with, “more than just our Marilyn Monroe.” This song was a tribute to a woman who died too young and under tragic circumstances. And the fact that he repeatedly used her name (both her stage and given) makes it easy for us to identify the inspiration behind the lyrics.

However, that’s not the end of this story as John repurposed the song for Princess Diana after her tragic death in 1997. Not only was the song sung at her funeral, but he called the princess “England’s rose” in the song, replacing the Norma Jean lyric.

While the song at its core remained relatively unchained, there were notable revisions made that allowed the song to be a tribute to the beloved princess. Essentially each song stands on its own as a tribute to two women who left this world too soon.

Although they sound the same, the slight adjustments in the lyrics give each one a special meaning depending on which of the women is being honored. Overall, it is a beautiful song, no matter which version you are listening to, and it is clear that Elton John knew what he was doing when he worked on both versions of “Candle in the Wind.”