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October 26, 2017

Diamond Moments: 'I’m Still Standing'

We are selecting Diamond Moments from Elton's 50-year career to celebrate the November 10th release of Elton’s ultimate greatest hits collection, Diamonds.

Elton’s second single from his 1983 album ‘Too Low For Zero’ established his rightful place on the 1980s charts and its title has become a catchphrase for his career.

I’m Still Standing, issued in May (US) and July (UK) 1983, reached #4 on the UK Singles Chart and #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Having also placed on the Billboard Adult Contemporary and Rock charts, it topped the Canada and Switzerland singles charts and reached the Top 10 in five other countries.

'I'm Still Standing' – 1983. (Director: Russell Mulcahy; editor: Stephen Priest; choreographer: Arlene Phillips)

I’m Still Standing, like the entire album on which it sits, was recorded at George Martin's AIR Studios on the Carribean island of Montserrat and saw the reunification of Elton’s “classic” band from the 1970s. For the first time in nearly ten years, Elton was joined in the studio by guitarist Davey Johnstone, bassist Dee Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson, with the three band members also adding their signature backing vocals to the track.

With this track, the quartet added a new rocker to Elton’s arsenal of hit singles, joining such emphatic standards as Crocodile Rock, Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) and The Bitch Is Back. In fact, I'm Still Standing was the fastest paced world-wide single that Elton had released to date, overtaking Honky Cat by three beats per minute and those other songs by far more.

I’m Still Standing was very well received by the press as well as the public. Upon its release, the New Musical Express said the song was Elton’s “best record since Your Song” and in 1991 a USA Today survey found it to be the favourite song of America’s Marine pilots.

But it was perhaps the video that garnered the most attention and certainly helped establish Elton firmly in the burgeoning MTV culture. Directed by the acclaimed Australian director Russell Mulchay, the video was primarily shot in one day at the InterContinental Carlton hotel in Cannes and in Nice, France – coincidentally within sight of one of Elton’s current homes.

We had two days to do it, the first day of which we did the helicopter shot. And there were some other scenes that Russell went to do on his own – some dance sequences. He, unfortunately, fell off the edge of the pier with the camera and all the day’s film in it. So we had to do the whole lot in one day. It was a hell of a lot to do but the French kids were marvelous.
Elton (1983)

The song has entered the Elton lexicon and is often used as a headline for interviews and articles in magazines and newspapers.

As Bernie explains, “It’s perhaps one more example of the original idea being interpreted by everyone into something quite different. I think people see it as an anthem based on Elton’s strong sense of survival in the face of adversity. Which, believe me, is perfectly fine by me – and in fact it’s probably infinitely more interesting than what it was originally written about. Which, if my memory serves me correctly, was a sort of kiss-off to an old girlfriend. You know the sort of thing: ‘Don’t you worry about me, I’ll be perfectly fine.’ Unlike George Jones’ She Thinks I Still Care, where in fact he really did…I really didn’t.”

I’m Still Standing has been a part of Elton’s concerts, band and solo, since 1983 and is included in the set list for his current Million Dollar Piano residency at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. The video that accompanies the song during that performance, different than the official video above, was designed by Sam Pattinson and shows various clips of Elton on stage and in promotional videos against a backdrop of an animated keyboard and other music-related graphics, offering the viewer on a visual smorgasbord of his career.

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