50 Years Ago, Elton John Wrote This Beloved Christmas Song In Just One Day


Step back into Christmas with Elton JohnStep back into Christmas with Elton John

The holiday season comes with a long, celebrated list of songs to get into the festive spirit. They come from across generations but 1973 was a year defined by a Christmas carol craze. So, on the heels of some big successes already landed that year, Elton John set to work on a Christmas song, which proved itself a worthy addition to the growing list of holiday songs and still proves itself 50 years later.

‘73 was a busy year for John. In that one year, he released Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player at the top of the year and it rocketed to the top in the U.K., the U.S., and Australia. By October, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was out, becoming an instant critical hit and, like its predecessor, topping domestic and international charts. But John had one more victory to snatch and he set it up in just one day.

Elton John jumped into the Christmas craze in record time

Elton John got millions excited to Step into ChristmasElton John got millions excited to Step into Christmas
Elton John got millions excited to Step into Christmas / YouTube screenshot

Others were releasing hits that year, as well. Queerty made special note of “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” by Wizzard and Merry Christmas Everyone by Slade, both British. They were very popular across the pond, supported by a renewed enthusiasm for Christmas music.

John ended up wanting to ride that wave, on top of everything else he accomplished that year. “Let’s do a Christmas record! we thought,” he recounted years later.

But time was running out. Per tradition, he worked with songwriter Bernie Taupin, hurrying off to London’s Morgan Studios on Sunday, November 11. They began writing the song – not even recording it yet – in the morning. By the afternoon, they were done.

It takes a Christmas village

It took just one recording session to write and completeIt took just one recording session to write and complete
It took just one recording session to write and complete / Everett Collection

Liner notes about “Step into Christmas” confirms that both the song and its B-side were recorded in just one session, with John aiming to make it channel the spirit of Phil Spector’s 1960s recordings.

“Part of what made Phil Spector records were the rooms, the musicians and the ambiance,” John explained, who also embraced the “wall of sound” technique mastered by the Ronettes, who also put out popular Christmas songs.

Step into Christmas rocketed to the top of the charts and still enjoys a solid following today / TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved

Elton John’s “Step into Christmas” enjoyed high positions on charts in the U.S., U.K., and more, at one point peaking at No.1 on the Billboard Christmas Singles list. Even three decades after its release, it was listed as the ninth-most-played Christmas song in the U.K. But its momentum still hasn’t faded, as in September 2021, was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America after reaching 500,000 units sold.

All it took was one day.


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