Hercules

Album: Honky Chateau (1972)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This fun track is an early Elton John / Bernie Taupin collaboration, which appears to be based on the old joke about the wimp who has sand kicked in his face at the beach by a muscle man, who then walks off with his girlfriend. Although he wrote the lyrics - as always - it is difficult to imagine country boy Bernie allowing himself to be subjected to such treatment, but the likely inspiration is that it is a joke directed at Elton himself, who was a self-deprecating type even way back then. Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, the singer-songwriter took his showbiz name Elton from saxophonist Elton Dean who played with Bluesology, and Long John Baldry, the band's leader. He changed it legally to his real name by notice in the June 11, 1972 edition of the London Gazette - an official British Government publication.
  • The second verse of "Hercules" contains the lines:

    Ooh well I like women and I like wine
    And I've always liked it that way


    That was indeed the case at that time and for some time later when in spite of music industry whispers provoked by his own at times candid comments about his sexuality, Elton married the German sound engineer Renata Blauel. They divorced four years later when Elton decided that neither the lovely Renata, nor any woman, was for him.

    Confirmation of the actual inspiration for the song was given by Elton himself when prior to a live performance at Sydney, Australia in 1984 - the year he married Renata - he told the audience that it was indeed about his middle name. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2

Comments: 2

  • Tim from Tampa, FlSomeone reminded me recently that "Sometimes a cigar really is a cigar". I always thought this song was about a cat named "Hercules", who belonged to the girl. Oh well, it looks like I've been smoked again. I love this site. :)
  • Angela from San Diego, CaOH my---how can you neglect to mention he legally made his middle name "Hercules" at the same time? I enjoyed learning it was done in the London Gazette later the same year this record came out---in January, as his records often did---like my hubbie did!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum

Dave Pirner of Soul AsylumSongwriter Interviews

Dave explains how the video appropriated the meaning of "Runaway Train," and what he thought of getting parodied by Weird Al.

Jay, Peaches, Spinderella and other Darrining Victims

Jay, Peaches, Spinderella and other Darrining VictimsSong Writing

Just like Darrin was replaced on Bewitched, groups have swapped out original members, hoping we wouldn't notice.

Gavin Rossdale On Lyric Inspirations and Bush's Album The Kingdom

Gavin Rossdale On Lyric Inspirations and Bush's Album The KingdomSongwriter Interviews

The Bush frontman on where he finds inspiration for lyrics, if his "machine head" is a guitar tuner, and the stories behind songs from the album The Kingdom.

Marc Campbell - "88 Lines About 44 Women"

Marc Campbell - "88 Lines About 44 Women"They're Playing My Song

The Nails lead singer Marc Campbell talks about those 44 women he sings about over a stock Casio keyboard track. He's married to one of them now - you might be surprised which.

Emmylou Harris

Emmylou HarrisSongwriter Interviews

She thinks of herself as a "song interpreter," but back in the '80s another country star convinced Emmylou to take a crack at songwriting.

80s Music Quiz 1

80s Music Quiz 1Music Quiz

MTV, a popular TV theme song and Madonna all show up in this '80s music quiz.