Believe/Song for Guy

Writers - John/Taupin
First released - 2017
Original album - Nightlife 2017 reissue Further Listening 1996-2000 bonus disc
Producer - Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

In September 1997, British ITV aired a special titled An Audience with Elton John, in which Elton answered questions posed by celebrities and performed a number of his songs, including duets with his guest stars—the Spice Girls, Sting, and the Pet Shop Boys. Neil and Chris performed with Elton an ingenious medley of his hits "Believe" and "Song for Guy." It started out with the melody of "Song for Guy," which flowed into the first verse of "Believe," sung by Elton. Neil then sang the second verse of "Believe," which then segued back into "Song for Guy" ("Life isn't everything…."), which Neil and Elton sang together. Chris of course played keyboard throughout. A studio rendition of their performance—which they may have mimed to during the show itself—remained unreleased on CD for two decades, finally surfacing in 2017 as a bonus track with the reissue of Nightlife.

The choice of these two songs may seem odd (I wonder if the idea for this particular medley was Elton's or the Boys'—naturally, I suspect the latter) until you realize that "Believe" contains a not-too-subtle dig at those who loudly espouse so-called "family values" in its lines "Fathers and sons make love and guns/Families together kill someone without love—I believe in love." (Bernie Taupin's original lyrics were "Father and son," singular, but Neil changes it to "Fathers and sons," plural, when he sings the line, which I honestly consider an improvement.) And "Song for Guy" was written in memory of a young man who died prematurely—a courier for Elton's Rocket Record Company, killed on the job in a motorcycle accident. The song seemed to take on even greater poignance in the post-AIDS era. It's not surprising, then, that Elton and PSB would find common ground in such a medley.

A commercial VHS tape of An Audience with Elton John was released several months after its original broadcast. Up until 2017, that was the only official release of this collaboration.

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