Little Jeannie

Album: 21 At 33 (1980)
Charted: 33 3

Songfacts®:

  • This was one of the few Elton John hits that he didn't write with his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin. The lyrics came from his friend, the songwriter Gary Osborne. In 1978, Elton wrote the songs for his album A Single Man with Osborne, while Bernie Taupin worked on the Alice Cooper album From The Inside. Elton's 21 At 33 album contained tracks from both Osborne and Taupin, and most of Elton's subsequent output would have words by Bernie. Looking back at his time away from Taupin, Elton said that while there was some friction between them, it was not a breakup, but more of a sabbatical, as Elton was in London and Bernie was in Los Angeles. He says their time apart was needed, and points out the while Elton did score a hit with "Little Jeannie," he never wrote a hit song for another artist. Taupin, on the other hand, wrote huge hits for Starship ("We Built This City") and Heart ("These Dreams).
  • In this song, Elton has it bad for Little Jeannie and can't stand seeing her being mistreated by other guys. The song's lyricist Gary Osborne says that he did have someone in mind when he wrote the words, but he won't reveal her identity. Jeannie is not her real name.
  • Running 5:15, this is fairly long for a pop hit. It's also unusual in that the title only shows up in the verses, not the chorus. The hook is, "And I want you to be my acrobat," a very memorable line.
  • Bill Champlin, who joined the group Chicago the following year, sang backing vocals on this track along with Dee Murray. The instrumentation is:

    Richie Zito - guitar
    Reggie McBride - bass
    Nigel Olsson - drums
    Jerry Hey - flugelhorn
    Jim Horn - saxophone, piccolo flute
    Chuck Findley - trumpet, trombone
  • This was Elton's fifth #1 single on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Comments: 4

  • Tony from Vero Beach, FlSteve, I always thought - for god knows whatever reason - that Elton was making a reference to the archetypal "acrobat" character (played by the young Genevieve Bujold) in the classic French film "King of Hearts" (1966). One art inspiring another. Could easily be wrong, though - but that's what it always makes me think of.
  • Anton from EarthHave grown to love this song more than ever did when it was new. After Sacrifice, Guess That's Why Call It The Blues, and Someone Saved My Life Tonight, this is probably favorite Elton song, but almost entirely due to the ending, where backup singers are counterpointing Elton's singing with:

    You stepped into my life from a bad dream
    Making the life that I had seem
    Suddenly shiny and new

    For some unknown reason, this lyric always forcefully impacts this one now. Was not the case 30 year ago.
  • Steve from WellingtonThe Lyrics read "I want you to be my acrobat, I want you to be my lover" but not sure what "acrobat" means as a sentiment of love for a girlfriend, does it possibly have a different meaning other than a Circus performer?
  • Robin from Milford, NjThough I love Elton with all my heart and always will, I never cared for this song, it was missing Bernie.
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