Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding

Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)


  • Elton wrote the music for this song after thinking about what he would want played at his funeral. Parts of it are very dirge-like.
  • Running 11:08, this opens with the "Funeral For A Friend" section, an instrumental that transitions into "Love Lies Bleeding," an angry song about a broken relationship with a lyric by Elton's songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin. They started as separate songs, but when producer Gus Dudgeon fused them together, Elton liked what he heard and made sure they stayed together. The "Funeral For A Friend" part contains lots of transitional segments that Elton came up with to assure a smooth segue.
  • This song starts the journey on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, opening the double album. It's a slow build, fading up from silence with an ethereal soundscape that plays for 30 seconds before the synthesizer notes come in. It fades back down at 1:40, which is when Elton's piano arrives, soon joined by the drums (Nigel Olsson), guitar (Davey Johnstone), bass (Dee Murray), and more synth. Elton doesn't start singing until 5:49.

    It's a powerful introduction to a very substantial album. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is Elton's best-selling studio album and one that influenced generations of musicians - Brandi Carlile says she took it everywhere. The album has plenty of hits ("Bennie And The Jets," the title track, "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)"), but also a number of other tracks that endured as favorites in Elton's live shows and on rock radio: "All The Girls Love Alice," "Grey Seal" and "Candle In The Wind" (not released as a US single until 1987) among them.
  • Bernie Taupin called the "Love Lies Bleeding" lyric "a statement of what touring and rock and roll does to the family life." At the time, he was married to his first wife, Maxine Feibelman.
  • The opening synthesizer part was played by Dave Hentschel, a producer and engineer who was one of the few people who could program and play the instrument. Hentschel worked at Trident Studios in London, which owned a Moog synthesizer he would operate for bands who recorded there. When the ARP company introduced a competing model, the ARP 2500, Trident's owner bought one and had Hentschel learn it. When "Rocket Man" was assembled at Trident, producer Gus Dudgeon had Hentschel use the ARP to add some space sounds to the mix.

    Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was also overdubbed and mixed at Trident, so when they needed synth, they again called on Hentschel. Using a 16-track tape machine, he recorded short portions of two other tracks from the album, "The Ballad of Danny Bailey" and "Candle In The Wind," which he layered together with other elements to create the intro. The whole piece was then spliced to the beginning of the song - Elton didn't hear it until it was finished.
  • Since this song is over 11-minutes long, it was not released as a single. Still, it became a very popular song on FM radio, partly because it wasn't played very often, and also because it gave DJs a chance to take a bathroom break or smoke a cigarette.
  • If you listen to the 1970 Procol Harum song "Piggy Pig Pig" you may hear some piano parts that resemble what Elton played on "Funeral For A Friend." That track was produced by Chris Thomas, who produced some of Elton John's albums in the '80s and '90s.
  • On the album, "Funeral For A Friend" and "Love Lies Bleeding" are listed as one track, but with separate credits. There is no official delineation as to where one track ends and the other begins.
  • The progressive rock group Dream Theater (who are known as Dream Theatre in Europe) covered this song on their 1995 album A Change of Seasons. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Danny - Franklin, GA

Comments: 46

  • J.g. from U.s.A part in this song sounds a lot like the ending half of Layla from Derek and the Dominoes
  • Cameron Hamill from SydneyGreat song facts! I also notice that on the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour there's pre-recorded howling winds and breaking thunder sounds.
  • Dios Moagi from Tzaneen, South AfricaI have so much respect for Bernie Taupin! Such a great songwriter.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenI played this song to death when I was dumped. But unlike EJ, I didn't hope she was happy.
  • Eric from Columbus, OhioThis song has quite a bit of meaning for me. I'd always been an EJ fan, and had first heard this on an album radio station in Boston in the mid 80s...instantly fell in love with it. A few years later I started dating a girl who also turned out to be a big EJ fan. On one of our early dates, this song came on the radio just as we pulled into the parking garage. I was thinking how I would like to sit and listen when she said "Can we just stay here and listen to this song?" 12 minutes in musical heaven! I was absolutely floored by how much of a connection we had over this song, and music in general. We ended up not working out...I left town for a job (stupid, stupid, stupid!!!), and had a lot of growing up to do. But every time I hear it, I still think of her and that time. Still think about you now and again, Karen....
  • Johnnysynth from Land's End, UsaThe synthesizer is an ARP not a Moog.
  • Andy from AuustraliaThis song has a great build up. After I bought the album in early 74 I played both LPs back to back several times and this track quickly stood out and became my favorite. Many times in that first month I'd put it on just before I left for work, my first job, and I could not leave until the track ended. I kept being late in the era when you had to clock on. Things were getting out of hand so I chanced explaining my addiction to my boss - relieved that it wasn't laziness, I think, he sided with me, understood, and kept me on. I still love the track.
  • Angela from San Diego, CaI've never heard it mentioned, but Love Lies Bleeding is the common name of a flower! Because of the multi-layered sequencing, we only play "Love Lies Bleeding" live; with permission it might be neat to play a recording of "Funeral" first (so we can take a break at the same time, rather than simply swapping out songs). It's Elton's greatest contribution to hard rock, yet even with the heartbreak his ebullient cheer shines on through. Synth player James Newton-Howard's scores pop up in about a hundred movies!
  • John4521 from Newcastle, United KingdomThanks to this site for getting me on to the Dream Theater version, Awesome!!! Also check out Tokyo Joe's live rendition on the album 'Live, Loud & Clear'.
  • Stephen from Melbourne, AustraliaHow did they do the wind noise and the chiming bells at the very start of the song?
  • Joe from Grants Pass, OrThis is the best line-up Elton ever had !!!
  • Kent from Greensburg, PaThe first part of this song sounds a lot like Pink Floyd!
  • Joe from Grants Pass, OrWhat about Davy Johnstone, Eltons right hand man/arranger ? Awesome dude !!
  • Grush from Ny, NyI heard this song on the radio one day while I was driving home to my mom's house from community college. I had no idea it was Elton John until much later in the song obviously but I was riveted. I stayed in my car in the cold and listened to the whole song. I asked my mom if she knew the song and she said yes and that it was a favorite of my fathers.
  • Jax from Philadelphia, PaThis is a great song musically, but I don't really understand what the lyrics mean. Someone want to explain it to me?
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxThe song embodies what my wife's cousin did to her husband after 22 years of marriage. Women can scream all they like about what scum men are, but when it comes to selfish, cowardly acts, they can match them, blow for blow.
  • David from Austin , FlIt was 1974 and my Mother and Father were in the midst of a horrible divorce. I was 14 and I knew that life as I knew it was over. My Dad moved into his new "bachelor pad" and bought a quadraphonic sterio system and a few albums the guy at the shop suggested. This album was one of them.

    I don't think my Dad ever listened to it but I played it relentlessly. It changed everything I knew about what music could be. In some ways it helped me through that terrible time as I could escape completely into the music. Funereal for a friend and Loves Lies Bleeding was my favorite. I think they represented how I felt about the loss of my family life, my youth and my innocence.
  • Tallmark from Minneapolis, MnNever a big EJ fan, as a teen I bought Goodbye Yellow Brick road for the title song...hadnt heard Funeral/LLB until the first spin (yes it was on vinyl)...totally blew me away!! It remains the only EJ album/CD I own; and I couldnt listen to the entire album in one setting...but that track gives me chills! I never understood him grinning while playing this in concert, but when I found out he wrote for his own funeral, the grinning made sense (sort-of).
  • Jim from Nipomo, CaI went to Halloween party in Crown Point, IN, in 1979 that opened with Funeral For a Friend. It was in a large dark warehouse-type building. On one end of the building two large doors swung slowly open to revealed heads lights of an old hearse. The music played as the hearse eerily drove in. Zombie-like "pall bearers" exited the vehicle to pull a casket out of the back. They carried it to the center of the stage where at the precise time a "body" sat up and continued to sing Love Lies Bleeding. It was the perfect Halloween party.
    -Monk, Nipomo,CA
  • Paul from Marysville, WaI agree with Brad from Tennessee: the live version from Here and There is better. But I recommend the original single-CD version. The double disk set which was released years later was remixed and the song suffers.

    If you can, get both: the double disk version also contains John Lennon's last public peerformance. He lost a bet with Elton and had to pay up by sitting in with the Elton John Band for three songs their Thanksgiving '74 show at Madison Square Garden.
  • Joel from Carrollton, TxThis is not only my favorite Elton John song, but it's also my favorite song, period. I love the beginning, but that spot where the two songs come together sounds so good, I have to stop what I'm doing to focus on it. When the piano comes in all by itself at the beginning of LLB, that's the way piano is supposed to sound. Then when Davey Johnston's guitar riff comes in, it just doesn't get any better than that for me. I think the reason this song is at the top of my list is not just because of how great it sounds, but also how interesting it is. It is so well orchestarted and flows so well that I could hear this song every day and never grow tired of it.
  • Pianowizzy from Denver, CoTo be honest, this song just makes me cry because I could not bear the thought of him dying. T_T
  • Guy from Benson, NcAniwya, those aren't flutes you hear at 8:10. It's all keyboards.
  • James from Yucaipa, CaGreat song.One of my favorites by Elton John.Over 11 minutes of pure musical enjoyment especially when love lies bleeding kicks in.11-14-08
  • John from Cloumbus, OhOK, so I love this song, and I'll grant that I know nothing about music, but does this song sound to anyone else like Yngwie Malmsteen's "Cavallino Rampante" at approximately one minute in?
    Again, I know nothing about music, and Yngwie's song is probably a cover, but something about the notes sounds to me to be quite similar. Does anyone else sense that?
  • Colin from London, United KingdomThis is my favourite Elton John track. It WAS released as a single in the UK (12" only) in 1978-9, as DJM (his old company) continued to cash in on old material from the days before Rocket Records was set up. Elton's other long medley ("We All Fall In Love Sometimes/Curtains") was on the "B" side.
  • Brad from Franklin, TnThe live version on "Here and There" is even better. Elton's energy and ever-so-slight raw voice is exhilarating. The entire CD is a must-have for any Elton fan.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhCharles, I too, was known in school as the "Elton" freak, and 30 years later, at class reunions the subject still comes up...and Elton's still around so apparently we know talent when we hear it! These two songs melded together make a masterpiece & I never tire of hearing them, either.
  • Guy from Wellington, New ZealandAbsolutely agree about the hairs on the back of the neck when Love Lies Bleeding kicks in. I love that whole album actually but this brilliant composition is probably my fave. Rock on Elton!
  • Jim from Boston, MaTruly, a masterpiece. But what really gets me on this song, and on all the other songs on this album (especially "Grey Seal"), is the amazing bass playing. Dee Murray has to be one of the most underrated/unknown bass players of all time.
  • Peter from Boulder, CoThe bridge was the theme music for the Keith Olberman show when he was a sportscaster in LA. Now he's a poltical talk show host, I think on MSNBC.
  • Stephen from Trenton, MeThough Funeral For a Friend and Love Lies Bleeding were not originally intended to go together, these were back in the days of album sequencing. Elton thought it was strange to go straight from an instrumental into Candle in the wind, then Bennie and the Jets, then Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. So he took this rock song Love Lies Bleeding and, noticing that he could easily connect the two in the key of A , He stuck them together. It's also interesting to note that it is very difficult to explain the chord progression of Funeral for a Friend with conventional harmony. Truly a masterpiece.
  • Rafael from Pasadena, CaI remember that I was a junior in High school when this came out. I COULD NOT get it out of my head and I rode my bike what must have been 10 miles to a record store in Glendale California and bought the album.

    I kept playing it over and over and I never got tired of it. I still have the album although I graduated to CD's and now my IPOD.

    It gives me chills to hear it.
  • Joshua from Twin Cities, MnDavid Hentschel also produced the first few Genesis albums after Peter Gabriel left the group.
  • Quin from Alpine, UtAnother classsic by Sir Elton John. The first time I heard it, I was stunned. When Love Lie Bleeding kicks in, the hair on my neck sticks up everytime.
  • Cameron from Bainsville, CanadaThis is the best song by Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin. I love the whole instrumental thing at the beginning, how it almost switches into different songs, till it gets to Love Lies Bleeding. And the lyrics are just great on that, and how Elton sings them. Me and my band were gonna try and learn this song. I wish my keyboardist (or any of us guitarists) were even close to as good as that.
  • Amadeus from Newport Beach, CaDave Hentschel was the engineer on the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album (the album was produced the late Gus Dudgeon).

    Hentschel, a composer/musician himself, did a lot of the ARP synthesizer (believe it was the called the 2600) work for Elton, playing it on earlier tunes such as "Rocket Man".

    Not many know that Hentschel actually COMPOSED the first half of "Funeral For A Friend" (the part prior to Elton's first piano entrance).

    And sorry, Anwiya, those are NOT flutes during the piano solo of "Love Lies Bleeding", but Hentschel's ARP synth again.
  • Chad from Eagan, MnProbably one of my favorite songs ever that wasn't written by Zeppelin, the Stones or Springsteen. A very beautifiul and complicated song that goes from the very slow and dark up to the very quick and thunderous. I basically bought "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" for this one song. Also, this song is what turned me on to progressive rock.
  • Mike from Nashville, TnThis is by far the best opening sequence for a concert that I have ever heard. From a dark arena to Funeral for a Friend, and then the lights come up and Elton kicks into Love Lies, I have chills now just thinking about it. This song is awesome!!
  • Matt from Dallas, Txdeffinately one of Elton and Bernie's many masterpieces...and yes, Anwiya from sterling Heights, those are flutes...not sure whoes playing them though...
  • Mark from Lincoln, NeDefinitely my favorite EJ song, by far. I get a chill everytime I hear the piano segue from Funeral into Love Lies Bleeding. I will never get tired listening to this epic prog-rock classic.
  • Anwiya from Sterling Heights, MiDoes anyone know if that is flutes playing around 8:10?
  • Charles from Bronxville, NyI hadn't listened to Elton since Tumbleweed. I was a party and heard Love Lies Bleeding and thought "Who the Hell is this?!!" I then became known in high school as the Elton John freak. Still love the man.
  • Kelli from New Milford, Ctthis is one of my favorites of elton johns like dan said you should definitly check out dream theaters version its really good and is a bit more electric guitary its amazing!
  • Chris from Port Hawkesbury, CanadaAn ARP synthesiser is what was used on this and most of his other 70s music. They were Moog's direct competitor back then.
  • Dan from T.c, Mimy personal favorite by elton john, check out the dream theater cover of this tune on the ep a change of seasons
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