Although it has words - "Life... Isn't ever-y-thing" - this Elton John composition can rightly be classed as an instrumental. Guy Burchett was a messenger for Elton's label, Rocket Records. According to reviewer Claude Bernadin, Elton wrote and recorded this piece on the afternoon of Sunday, August 18, 1978. He had felt it was a song about death, and only learned the next day that Guy had been killed that very afternoon in a motorcycle accident.
The single was released November 28, 1978. Backed by "Love Sick," it was Elton's first UK top 5 hit for six years. In America, however, it was Elton's first single since "Step Into Christmas" not to chart. Elton's label, MCA Records, didn't do much promotion for the track, since getting instrumentals played on US radio was a steep climb. This tweaked off Elton, since it was a very important song for him, and he wanted to get an instrumental on the US charts. He says it was one of the reasons he left MCA, which he later realized was a mistake.
The album version runs to a lengthy 6 minutes 53 seconds, although there have been various edits including a CD single released in 2000, running to 3 minutes 52 seconds. This is the Sunstorm Radio Edit by Hurley and Todd; another version, the Sunstorm Mike Koglin Remix, also by Hurley and Todd, was likewise put out in 2000, and runs to 8 minutes 12 seconds.
"Song For Guy" shows an introspective, thoughtful Elton, obviously reflecting on his own mortality.
Suggestion credit: Alexander Baron - London, England, for all above
The A Single Man album was the first one he made without lyricist Bernie Taupin, which was tough for both parties, but a necessary break. "We never discussed it, we just let it go, and it hurt," Elton told Rolling Stone in 2013. "It hurt him and it hurt me, but we both had the resilience and the intelligence to know that if we didn't let each other write with other people, it would be the end of our relationship."
Groovus Maximus from Boston, MaAmazing, tragically underrated song... I can listen to it over and over, as it washes over me with melancholy, nostalgic waves of emotion, the simple bossa nova beat supporting layers of swirling piano & synthesizer -- genius! Great headphone track, truly one of Elton's best. I do believe, though, that the mantra Elton repeats at the end is "Life... is a temporary thing, is a temporary thing, is a temporary thing" (pronounced in that clipped sort of British way we Yanks all love!) -- makes more sense considering the subject matter, doesn't it?