I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues

Album: Too Low For Zero (1983)
Charted: 5 4
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Songfacts®:

  • Elton's lyricist Bernie Taupin wrote this song as a love letter to his wife at the time, Toni Russo, who is the sister of the actress Rene Russo. In the album credits, Bernie wrote, "Hey Toni, this one's for you." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jim - Dunedin, FL
  • Discussing the meaning of the song, Bernie Taupin said: "I wrote this in Montserrat, an island that, tragically, no longer exists. Basically, it's a letter home with a small tip included about making the most of time, not wishing it away just because you can't be with the one you love. Time is precious; read books, paint a picture, bake a cake. Just don't wallow, don't be content."
  • Too Low for Zero was the first Elton John album since Blue Moves in 1976 with Bernie Taupin as the exclusive lyricist. During their time apart, each had success working with other artists. Taupin collaborated with Alice Cooper, and Elton turned to Gary Osbourne for lyrics.
  • Stevie Wonder played harmonica on this track. Even if all he did was play harmonica, Wonder could have earned a decent living. Some other tracks he played the instrument on include "I Feel For You" by Chaka Khan, "A Little More Time With You" by James Taylor and "There Must Be An Angel (Playin' With My Heart)" by Eurythmics.
  • This song contains one of the few lyrics that Bernie Taupin regrets. He said: "The whole 'loving you more than I love life itself' is something I would never say now. It's kind of a crass sentiment and totally false. It's quite another thing to love someone deeply with your whole heart without stooping to this kind of lie. I loathe giving songwriting advice, but were I pushed, I'd say, 'Never say you love someone more than life or that you'd die for someone in a song.' It's just such a disservice to your own spirit. I'd like to think that I'd lay down my life for my children, but until you're faced with the reality, it's kind of a moot point. Rambling, I know, but relative nonetheless."
  • The Too Low For Zero album has special meaning for Elton, as it reunited him with Taupin and is also where he met his first spouse, Renate Blauel, who was an engineer on the sessions. Elton cites this song as his favorite from the set, telling Rolling Stone, "It's just a great song to sing. It's timeless."
  • Russell Mulcahy, who also directed Elton's "I'm Still Standing" video, did the "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" promo, which is set in the 1950s.

Comments: 13

  • Ian Wilkins from United KingdomThis song came out as I joined the Army in 1983. Unlike the video my girl didn’t wait! I’ve got had a wonderful life, great wife and two fantastic kids so I am good. Still love this song.
  • Kirk from San DiegoThis song makes me think of the one I so wanted, and now no longer have. I want her back so much it hurts.
  • Miles from Vancouver, CanadaThis whole song rings true with this horrible COVID-19 which just won't go away. On the other hand, when Elton sings, "Don't wish it away/Don't look at it likes it's forever", I wish it were that easy. Nevertheless, it's a beautiful song and one of my favorites from Elton.
  • Missing Him from Maumee,ohioJust listened to this song,it was perfect timing. In 8 days it will be year since I lost my husband of 34 years. Elton John was one of his favorites,it was like he wanted me to hear it.To know it's ok to miss him but not to stop doing things. Don't just go though the motions, actually enjoy what life has to offer.
  • Powerful from Lansing, MichiganWhat a powerhouse partnership. Mr. Taupin and Mr. John. Love this song especially.
  • Onercflyer from St. Louis, MoOddly enough, this song came out just as I was heading to Korea for a year without my wife and 4 month old daughter. Talk about two people who cried and cried. Then, if I remember right, the video was even of a service man leaving. I came back to my beautiful wife and my little girl who didn't know me. So, when my wife and I hear or play this song, it still brings tears to our eyes and has a very special place in our hearts and that was 29 years ago.
  • Nomy from Chicago, IlI loved this song from the first time I heard it,but it took 27 years for it to apply directly to my life...sigh
  • Jeff from Boston, MaThis is my favorite period of Elton John's body of work - after he stopped trying to be Andy Warhol, but before he and Phil Collins allowed their talent for pop music to degenerate into a cloying pile of unlistenable Disney-approved pablum.
  • George from Calumet City, IlThis song is just so good. One of my all-time favorites from Elton.
  • Naomi from Philadelphia, PaI love this song! I've loved it since i was a child.....when I really listened to the lyrics, i just cried, especially when Elton says, 'Wait on me girl/ Cry in the night if it helps / But more than ever I simply love you / More than I love life itself' i cried my freakin' eyes out....lol I LOVE YOU ELTON!!!!!!
  • Shawn from Green Bay, WiMaybe my favorite Elton John song, which makes it one of my favorite songs of all time. Like most great love songs, it is simple and beautiful at the same time. I really feel the second verse is one of the greatest written verses in music history. I can't imagine a verse summing up love any better than that one.
  • Mchael from Winston-salem, NcThis along with 'Sad Songs Say So Much' are classic Elton songs from the 80's. His two disc greatest hits CD set is a must for any true music fan.
  • J from Pittsburgh, PaI went to the Rock 'N Roll Hall Of Fame on 08/12/08. On my way there, I heard this song on the radio. I waited to hear the name of the song, and was pleasantly surprised to find it was an Elton song. I like a lot of his songs
    (including (1) Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding; (2) Levon; (3) Bennie and the Jets; (4) Candle In The Wind; (5) Crorodile Rock; (6)Daniel; (7) Don't Go Breaking My Heart (which I also heard earlier that morning); (8) Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me; (9) Goodbye Yellow Brick Road; (10) Philadelphia Freedom; (11) Rocket Man (which was playing outside the Rock 'N Roll Hall Of Fame), (12) Someone Saved My Life Tonight; and(13) Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word).

    This song was stuck in my head, CONSTANTLY RINGING, for about a month. It was the first time I had ever heard it, but it stuck to me like glue.

    This is in my music hall of fame, and right behind it are Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, Levon, and Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me.
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