Songfacts®: You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.
In Susan Black's book Elton John in His Own Words
, Elton says of "Levon": "It"s about a guy who just gets bored doing the same thing. It's just somebody who gets bored with blowing up balloons and he just wants to get away from it but he can't because it's the family ritual." (thanks, Alexander - London, England)
The name "Levon" came from Levon Helm, the drummer and one of the lead singers of The Band. Elton and his lyricist, Bernie Taupin, were big fans of The Band.
This is a great example of Taupin's complex, often obscure writing style. He and John made a great team because Elton could interpret his lyrics very well, giving life to the characters in the songs.
Since this runs 5:37, Elton's record company wanted to cut this down for the single so that more US radio stations would play it. Elton refused, insisting it be released full-length.
The actual New York Times page 1 headline that included the phrase "God Is Dead" is dated March 24, 1968; the full headline read, "'God Is Dead' Doctrine Losing Ground to 'Theology of Hope'." The phrase also appeared in a major (page 3) article on January 7, 1970. Smaller pieces dated January and April 1966 that feature the phrase in their headings can also be found. None were on Christmas Day, but the January ones are close! (thanks, Tony - Westbury, NY)
The cover art for the album was hand-embroidered on a Levi's jacket. On the back, the track listing was hand-stitched. This kind of artwork has become scarce in the age of digital design.
Jon Bon Jovi covered this for the tribute album Two Rooms. Elton played piano on some of Bon Jovi's recordings. (thanks, Brett - Edmonton, Canada)
Sir Elton and his partner David Furnish became parents to a son born on Christmas Day 2010 to a surrogate mother in California. They named him Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, which is why the baby boy ended up in this Songfact. It is assumed the name "Levon" was chosen because of the song's line, "He was born a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas day."