Act of War

Album: Ice On Fire (1985)
Charted: 32

Songfacts®:

  • With lyrics by Elton's longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin, this song uses war as a metaphor for a stormy interpersonal relationship. It was the era of the Cold War, when the United States and Russia had nuclear weapons ready for attack. Explosions appear in the song to encourage the theme, and the video opens with the United States president answering his phone near the "button" which would supposedly launch the missiles. The jelly beans he eats are a reference to Ronald Reagan, the real president at the time who enjoyed the treats.
    It's a catchy and upbeat tune from a resurgent Elton John, perhaps with an anti-nuclear sentiment similar to "99 Luftballons," but it couldn't get traction in America, where the song was ignored.
  • Elton duets with Millie Jackson on this song, taking the role of a straight man. Jackson is an R&B star well known in the black community, but just under the mainstream radar. Like Tina Turner, who was first offered the duet but turned it down, Jackson has impressive looks and a stunning voice, and she could have crossed over to the Pop world had things gone a bit differently. In our interview with Millie Jackson, she explained: "Didn't happen. Don't care. In America I think in order to be a pop star you've got to have management. And I always managed myself. I was never looking to become that crossover pop star. Let white folks cross over to me. I call myself the poor people's queen. Because once you get to the top there's only one way to go."

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