Nobody Wins

Album: The Fox (1981)
Charted: 42 21
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • "Nobody Wins" is one of Elton John's most personal songs, but it's one of the few he didn't co-write. The music is adapted from a French song called "J'veux d'la tendresse" ("I Want Tenderness"), written by Jean-Paul Dréau and released by the female singer Janic Prevost in 1980. Elton heard the song when he was in St. Tropez, France and asked his lyricist, Gary Osborne, to write a new set of English lyrics to the melody. In conversations with Elton, Osborne learned of the cold and distant relationship he had with his father, and used that as the basis for the lyric. When the love falls apart, nobody wins.
  • This was released on The Fox, Elton's first album issued by Geffen Records. Many of the songs, including this one, took shape while he was still under contract to MCA with Gary Osborne writing his lyrics. When he moved to Geffen, the label had him reunite with Bernie Taupin, who co-wrote four songs on the album. The Fox sold poorly by Elton standards, but his reunion with Taupin paid off on his next album, Jump Up!, which contained the John/Taupin hit "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)" as well as a #1 Adult Contemporary hit with lyrics by Osborne: "Blue Eyes."
  • This was one of the first songs to use a LM-1 drum machine, which was introduced in 1980 at a cost of $5000 (about the price of an economy car). The LM-1 was the first programable unit to use real drum samples, which drummers could appreciate. On "Nobody Wins," Toto's drummer Jeff Porcaro did the programming. Roger Linn, who designed the machine, told Songfacts it was the most effective use the machine. "Few know it's a drum machine because of Jeff's extraordinary drumming skills," said Linn.

    On the album, Porcaro is not listed, with Linn credited for the drum programming. This is likely due to contractual issues.
  • Elton recorded the song in French with the original lyrics, which was released in that country.
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