Oscar Wilde Gets Out

Album: The Diving Board (2013)
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  • Lyrics
  • This song finds Elton singing about the Victorian playwright Oscar Wilde looking back after his release from Reading Gaol (what Americans call "jail"). Wilde was sentenced for two years of hard labor in 1895 for homosexual offenses with Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas. Standing handcuffed on his way to prison in the pouring rain he quipped, "If this is the way Queen Vic treats her convicts, she doesn't deserve to have any."

    When Wilde was publicly derided at Clapham Junction while being transferred to Reading Gaol, he saw a parallel between his plight and the mockery of the arrested Jesus Christ, which is referenced in this song. He was released in 1897 and moved to France under an assumed name. He wrote there his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life. Wilde died destitute in Paris just three years after his release.
  • This was the first track that Elton recorded for his The Diving Board album after Bernie Taupin had given him the lyrics. "We meet once a year for work," Elton explained to The Sun regarding their songwriting partnership. "He gives me a bunch of lyrics and I have no idea what he's written about. Then he buggers off and I go into the studio and write the songs. Then I play them back to him."

    Elton added that he chose to put music to this one first, as he thought it was an interesting title.
  • Here are some more songs on our database that were inspired by Oscar Wilde and his works:

    "So Light is Her Footfall." The song title was lifted from the Oscar Wilde short story The Canterville Ghost.

    "Broken Love Song" by Peter Doherty. Some of the song's lyrical ideas for this song were inspired by The Ballad of Reading Gaol.

    "Dark Entries" by Bauhaus. Tells the story of Dorian Gray, the title character of Wilde's only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

    "The Ocean" by U2. Dorian Gray is mentioned in the lyrics. ("A picture in grey. Dorian Gray. Just me by the sea.")

    "Resist" by Rush. The line, "I can resist everything except temptation," is a quote from Wilde's play Lady Windermere's Fan.

    Also the Rolling Stones made a promotional film for their song "We Love You" that was based on the film The Trials Of Oscar Wilde with Mick Jagger as Wilde,and Marianne Faithfull as Bosie.
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