- Elton John clearly tried to make his cover of The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” psychedelic.
- That style is out of his wheelhouse.
- The tune was a No. 1 hit in the United States.
Elton John put his own spin on The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and it’s an artistic failure. He makes the song so much longer without adding anything except a few misguided touches. Despite this, the tune became a massive hit in the United States.
Elton John didn’t translate The Beatles’ ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ into his style
John is a musical genius … sometimes. While he’s given us pop classics like “Bennie and the Jets,” “Your Song,” and “Candle in the Wind,” he’s also released some trash like “Island Girl” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” He did not bring his A-game to his clever of “Lucy on the Sky with Diamonds.”
John is, first and foremost, a piano player. He probably could’ve thought of an interesting way to translate “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” for the piano, but instead he just tries to capture the psychedelic mood of the original tune. John is very talented but psychedelia is just out of his range. Trying to make better psychedelic music than The Beatles is like trying to outrun Usain Bolt: only the most talented should even attempt it.
Elton John made his cover roughly twice as long as The Beatles’ original song
John also extended his cover way beyond its welcome. The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is three minutes and 28 seconds long. John’s rendition is six minutes and 17 seconds long. Considering this is a radio pop song and not a movie, three minutes is a huge change.
John mostly extends the song by singing it way too slowly. It’s like he’s so reverential of the original that he has to savor each moment of it. That reverence is appreciable on some level but it makes his cover a slog. He also makes the song longer by adding some reggae breakdowns that are enough to make you wonder why John ever tried making reggae music in the first place.
How the cover of ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ performed on the pop charts
John’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was a huge hit. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks, staying on the chart for 14 weeks in total. The cover appeared on some editions of the album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. That album peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for seven weeks, remaining on the chart for 43 weeks in total.
According to The Official Charts Company, John’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” reached No. 10 in the United Kingdom and stayed on the chart for 10 weeks. On the other hand, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy reached No. 2 and stayed on the chart for 24 weeks.
John’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was a huge hit even if it didn’t deserve its success.