Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)

Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
Charted: 7 12

Songfacts®:

  • Elton's songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, wrote the lyrics. Taupin called it his "first attempt to write a rock and roll song that was totally English." Until then, most of his songwriting focused on American culture.
  • This song is about Taupin's teen years going to British dance clubs, where fights were common. Many of Taupin's songs are written to relate to Elton's life, but not this one - it's unlikely that Elton would be fighting in a club.
  • In the liner notes to Elton John's boxed set, it explains that he recorded his vocal while leaping around and "going crazy." It was the first time Elton recorded a vocal standing up, and he made the most out of it.
  • There is a rather clever reference to getting drunk in the lyrics: "Get about as oiled as a diesel train."
  • The song features in the 2010 Ricky Gervais film Cemetery Junction. Gervais told The Guardian why he wanted to use it: "I got permission from Elton John to use this track for the opening credit sequence two years before we started writing the film. I'd always wanted to use the song and it fits the mood and themes of the movie perfectly. Growing up seemed to revolve around Saturday nights. You'd worked hard for someone else all week and now it was your time."
  • Part of the recording sessions for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road took place in Jamaica. Bernie Taupin explained to Rolling Stone: "The climate was hospitable, but the natives weren't. To use the terminology of the time, it was not a 'good vibe.' I remember a lot of barbed wire around the studio and armed guards. We spent a lot of time congregating around the pool area of the hotel, feeling there was safety in numbers. The Stones did manage to record there, but in retrospect I think they had a mobile unit with them. The only thing I remember trying to record was 'Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting.' It was an aborted attempted, just atrocious." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Nickelback and Kid Rock teamed up for a 2003 cover of this song. Other acts to record it include Flotsam and Jetsam, W.A.S.P., Fall Out Boy and The Who.
  • Fall Out Boy recorded this for the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 40th Anniversary edition, released in 2014. Lead singer Patrick Stump produced it with Peter Asher, who was in charge of the project. In a Songfacts interview with Asher, he said: "That one I worked with Patrick Stump, who's someone I greatly admire. He's, of course, a very good producer himself. He's produced a number of successful bands himself, so that was really just me and him, sitting down over in his house here in LA and talking through the song and trying out some ideas and so on. Then, the rest of the band came in, and we did record that with the band because we wanted the live drums and stuff, but we had a sketch already recorded of some programmed stuff that he and I had done at his house."
  • Elton would sometimes let fans come onstage and gather around his piano when he performed the song. That ended on March 1, 2018 when an overanxious fan kept touching him when he played it at a concert in Las Vegas. Elton stormed off the stage, and when he returned, declared, "No more coming on stage on 'Saturday Night.' You f--ked it up."

Comments: 29

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenI lived in an apartment complex in the late 80s and it seemed like domestic disputes would break out every Saturday night at multiple locations in the complex. It got so bad that the police department began stationing a car just outside the complex for fast response. I always thought of this song when I saw the blue and red lights flashing outside my window.
  • Tony Melchiore from Mount Laurel, Nj United StatesThe one song that described my youth!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 7th 1973, Elton John appeared in concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California...
    He performed a sixteen song set, the fourteenth song was "Saturday Night's Alright (for Fighting)"...
    At the time the song was at position #16 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; two days later on September 9th, 1973 it would peak at #12 {for 2 weeks} and also spent 12 weeks on the Top 100...
    His next eight releases would all reached the Top 10 with half of them peaking at #1; "Bennie & the Jets" for 1 week, "Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds" for 2 weeks, "Philadelphia Freedom" for 2 weeks, and "Island Girl" for 3 weeks...
    But he just missed having six of the eight reach #1 when "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me" both peaked at #2...
    At the concert that night he was introduced by Linda Lovelace, the star of the X-rated 'Deep Throat' movie.
  • Kat from Adelaide, AustraliaI agree with Colin from New Egypt - The Who did do an absolutely cracking version of this song! Better than the original? I think so, but I guess there'd be a lot of Elton fans that would disagree with that! Interestingly, Elton did a version of The Who's Pinball Wizard, for the Tommy movie which is also a cracking version of that song, and a lot of would say was better than the original, too.
  • Crystal from Hartselle, AlAww I liked the nickleback version too!
  • Dan from Kingston, CanadaI'm truly sorry and I apologize to everyone on behalf of all us embarassed Canadians that Nickelback recorded and butchered this song. It was a travesty by possibly one of the worst bands of all time - and to do it to an Elton John song - even worse !!
  • Joe from Grants Pass, OrDavie Johnstone is the BEST
  • Bill from Lodi, CaI challenge anyone to sing this song with the same intensity as Elton John without jumping around! It takes an incredible amount of vigor to perform at this pace and it requires a good amount of lung capacity, this is one intense ass song! (of course I'm talking about the original, not this live YouTube clip)

    It's too bad Sir Elton didn't do more hard rock stuff, he actually has a great type of voice for it.
  • Elaine from La Plata, MdThe title of my favorite episode of "Gilmore Girls" is based on this song--called "Friday Night's Alright for Fighting'.
  • Drew from B\'ham, AlThe first time I ever heard this one, I thought it was by either the Rolling Stones or the Clash. I hadn't any idea that Elton John rocked out like this. Keep it up, Elton!
  • Mark from Austin, TxOn the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album, this song is preceded by "Your Sister Can't Dance (But She Can Rock And Roll)." To me, that song always sounded like a sped up trial run of this song.
  • Shiznit from Portland,nickelback also did a cover of this song
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, Canada"Yes elton was leaping about while laying the vocals down but only to push the band to play faster."

    Doubtful. The music would have been all recorded by the time he did the vocals. In a studio, after a 'guide track' is recorded, everything is usually re-recorded one instrument at a time, for instance to minimize microphone bleeding (the snare drum's mike picks up the guitar, if they're both going at once.) And the band plays at the same tempo from the start to the end of the song, if they start playing faster (1) they have to start over again, and (2) they will likely fire the drummer. Unless you're like, the Tragically Hip, and it doesn't really matter if your tempo goes up and down, because you're not expected to be talented if you're playing grunge rock.
  • Nunzio from Darwin, AustraliaThis & Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies bleeding are his best 2 Rockers...
  • John from Jasper, CanadaYes elton was leaping about while laying the vocals down but only to push the band to play faster.
  • John from Jasper, CanadaElton went to Bernie and asked him to write a song about about what goes on in the english pubs(on a sat night?).This was the result.
  • N.i. from Baltimore, MdThis is one of Elton's hardest rockin' songs, and it's great. (I like his ballads, too, for the record.)
  • Craig from Melbourne, AustraliaElton trying to do a Stones type song.
  • Jonothan from Adelaide, AustraliaI agree with Colin from New Egypt, The Who's cover of this song is an absolute cracker! good song, even better by the Who.
  • Guy from Wellington, New ZealandHey, Frank -- the lines "I'm a juvenile product of the working class/Whose best friend floats in the bottom of a glass" aren't that hard to understand. The "best friend" he's referring to is alcohol. It's called a metaphor ;-7 Cheers
  • Pytlak from Bakersfield, CaHey Mike, this is very similar to the Who's style. It is much more of a hard rock song than Elton John's previous songs such as Daniel, Rocket Man, Tiny Dancer ect.
  • Alex from Naples, FlThe Who covered this for an Elton John tribute album. In 1972, Elton John opened for them at shows, and Townshend liked him and his music so much he dedicated a song that night to the entire band.
  • Daniel from Springfield, MaOne time I listened to this song blitzed and it was the most amazing song I'd ever heard. When the first verse kicked in it was like "WWWOOOWWW!!!" I was never the same. This to me is the greatest song ever made. Bernie Taupin and Mr. John are simply brilliant. GREAT SONG! GREAT!!!! And by the way Colin, the Who can kiss my @$$, no one could top THIS original!
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaThis came out when I was in high school and would go out drinking beer with my guy friends. It was a great feel-good rock-out kinda song! We didn't really take the English working class lyrics too seriously--it's a nice portrait of that life, but mostly it's just a wonderful rockin' song.
  • Frank from Westminster, ScI'm always surprised when I see lyrics from EJs songs written out. Half of the time, I have no clue what he's singing. BTW: How do you float at the bottom of a glass?
  • Colin from New Egypt, NjThe Who did a much better version
  • Mike from Germantown, MdI can't see a band like the Who covering this.
  • Joshua from Twin Cities, MnThis song was covered by The Who in 1991 and appears as the last track on the last CD in their Thirty Years of Maximum R&B boxed set. In The Who's version, the lyrics are sung much more clearly by Roger Daltrey than in Elton's original, and the final chorus is followed by Pete Townshend singing the chorus of another Elton John song, "Take Me To The Pilot".
  • Matt from Los Angeles, CaGreat song. Should've been the basis for the sequel to "Saturday Night Fever".
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