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The Bitch Is Back

by

Elton John



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Elton is the "Bitch." One day when he was in a foul mood, complaining about anything and everything, Bernie Taupin's wife, Maxine, saw him and said "Uh-Oh, the bitch is back." Bernie Taupin writes Elton's lyrics and thought it was a great phrase. He wrote lyrics around it and Elton put it to music.
A lot of radio stations refused to play this because it said "bitch." When it became a hit, a lot of these stations began playing it, but some aired an edited version with the word "bitch" blanked out. This version sounded really dumb because the word is repeated over and over.
Elton: "It is kind of my theme song."
Tower of Power supplied the horns. They are a popular R&B group who did very well in the early '70s with hits like "You're Still A Young Man" and "So Very Hard To Go." Their horn section has played on albums by Santana, Little Feat, Rod Stewart, America, Huey Lewis and many others. Founding member Emilio Castillo told us:
"This is what we do, it's like sweat. It's what we do naturally and the thing that makes us so special. There aren't a lot of horn sections in the world, certainly not a lot of horn sections that have been together doing it as long as we have, that play a signature style like we do. We have a definite style to the way we approach section work, we clip our notes, we get very tight, we've got to have this ESP going between the guys as far as how to interpret certain horn licks." (Check out our interview with Emilio Castillo. You can learn much more at his website, towerofpower.com.)
Elton recorded the album in the mountains of Colorado at the Caribou studios owned by Jim Guercio, who was famous for his work with the bands Blood, Sweat & Tears and Chicago. The album was named after the studio.
They finished the album in about a week because Elton and his band had to leave for a tour.
When Hillary Clinton went to bookstores to promote her autobiography in 2003, a conservative group called The Free Republic staged "audio protests" by playing this and other unflattering songs at her signings.
Elton John performed this with Rihanna at the third annual Fashion Rocks Concert in 2006. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Lita Ford covered this and incorporated it into the title of her 2013 live album The Bitch is Back... Live. Turning the song into a guitar-rocker with help from her producer Gary Hoey, Lita felt the song was appropriate to her, as she had returned to the music industry after taking time off to raise her two children.
Elton John
Elton John Artistfacts
More Elton John songs
More songs that were banned
More songs that are autobiographical
More songs with Tower Of Power horns
More songs featuring a horn section
More songs with titles that are also a figure of speech
More songs covered by the Glee cast

Comments (16):

I must say that this has to be one of the best websites on the www. Jake
- John, Van Buren, AR
I remember Joan Rivers and Elton doing this on her new show in 1986. It's always been one of my favorites - especially when played very loud in the car!
- Dean, Birmingham, AL
The line "Eat Meat on Fridays" referrs to the then-recent Papal decree ending "meatless Fridays" for the world's Roman Catholics. It was Bernie's comment on how the world was changing.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
The best song on "Caribou" and perhaps the only one worth remembering. Even Elton's producer, Gus Dudgeon, commented that he thought this was the first album on which Elton wasn't giving his all. One of the many awful album tracks on "Caribou" is called "Stinker," and that pretty much sums up the album.
- kevin, Reading , PA
This is the song my mom chose for my brother. We like to play it when he comes home.
- May, Marion Center, PA
Elton John was huge in the 70's and then seemed to fall off the face of the earth for quite a few years. I always thought this album was the beginning of that fall. "Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player" and "Goodbye, Yellowbrick Road" had been such excellent albums that I rushed right out to buy "Caribou" when it came out. I thought it was about the worst album I had ever heard. I kept listening to it, hoping it would grow on me, but it never did. I was never a big fan of this song, either. It would be interesting to listen to the album today and see if it sounds any better now than it did then.
- Mark, McHenry, IL
The song says the word 'bitch' forty-two times.
- Bryan, New York, NY
Song has a great beat too!
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
In 1986, comedianne Joan Rivers hosted her own evening talk show, The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers, on the then-fledgling Fox Television Network, one of the launch shows for the new network. The show's premier included Joan, Elton himself and a couple of other celebrities all singing TBIB together as a welcome for the new television undertaking.
- Leya Qwest, Anchorage, AK
I like how this song starts with a few seconds of scratchy sound. And because it is the first song on the Caribou album, I wonder if people who bought it on vinyl thought they had a defective record.
- Bill, southeastern part of, FL
I sing this whenever my sister comes home.
- AJ, Cleveland, GA
Dusty Springfield sang backing vocals on this song. 25 years later, Elton John sang at her funeral.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
I think the song is a great song, and it does seem to describe elton John's personality sometimes. I mea, you know how he can have hissy fits over the stupidest things. I think it's a great and funny song, and it's another one of those songs that you can rock out to.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
Tina Turner covered this one on the Two Rooms album, which is absolutely perfect. She did change the lyrics, however - not singing "high in the evening sniffing pots of glue", but "high just thinkin' bout the things I do".
- Mike, Seattle, WA
This is one of my favorite songs, if only for the fact that it cracks me up every time I hear it!
- Christina, Ramstein, Germany
this sounded great when he played this on the Sharon Osbourne show.
- Scott Baddwin, edmonton, England
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