The Real Meaning Behind Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer’

Everyone loves “Tiny Dancer.”

As we all remember (or can’t forget), Cameron Crowe paid homage to “Tiny Dancer” in Almost Famous (in fact, it wasn’t certified Gold until a few years after the film’s release). The likes of Dave Grohl, Tim McGraw and Ben Folds all love to cover it. Even Donald Trump loves to play it at political rallies (and has since been asked to stop by Elton).

Everyone loves it, but what is it about?

A literal dancer? A seamstress? A lover of someone in the band?

First, it’d help to know who wrote the lyrics. It wasn’t John, but long-time collaborator Bernie Taupin.

In the liner notes, the song is dedicated to Taupin’s first wife, Maxine Fiebelmann. Get this: she’d travel with the band, fixing their costumes and clothes while on tour.

Case closed, right?

Not quite.

Taupin would later backtrack on that implied meaning a bit…

“In regards to the true meaning of the song,” Bernie said in an audio clip on his website. “… That’s always been misread.”

“The song is in fact dedicated to her,” Bernie said of his first wife, Maxine. “But not written about her.”

It was in an old Rolling Stone interview with Gavin Edwards where Bernie claims to have given the “definitive answer.”

“We came to California in the fall of 1970, and it seemed like sunshine just radiated from the populace. I was trying to capture the spirit of that time, encapsulated by the women we met — especially at the clothes stores and restaurants up and down Sunset Strip,” Bernie elaborated. “They were free spirits, sexy in hip-huggers and lacy blouses, and very ethereal, the way they moved. They were just so different from what I’d been used to in England. And they all wanted to sew patches on your jeans. They’d mother you and sleep with you – it was the perfect Oedipal complex.”

So there ya go. It’s dedicated to Maxine, not about here. In reality, it’s about America as interpreted by two English blokes who’d never left England.

“Why ‘Tiny Dancer’?” Bernie asks. “I suppose that’s just poetic license. Sounds better than ‘small dancer’ or ‘little dancer.'”

Yes, it does!

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