Elton John

Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding

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Song Review by Donald A. Guarisco

This two-part composition opens the double-album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road on a suitably epic note. "Funeral For A Friend" is a stunning instrumental that John penned one day while pondering what music he would want played at his funeral. What he came up with was a powerful fusion of classical and rock elements where a gentle, lyrical motif is developed and energized until it builds into a powerhouse full of emotion and bombast. After hitting its peak, it seamlessly transitions into "Love Lies Bleeding," a song that applies a pulse-pounding approach to ballad-styled subject matter. The lyrics of this song are an angry take on the breakup song that uses death metaphors to convey its narrator’s anguish: "And love lies bleeding in my hand/Oh, it kills me to think of you with another man." The melody adds the swagger of rock song through verses that swing in a restless fashion and a chorus that hits a bombastic note of rock and roll catharsis. Elton John’s recording of this epic medley makes it a full-on production piece through an arrangement that blends lushness and firepower in equal measure: "Funeral For A Friend" builds from mournful synthesizer lines into a piano-pounding frenzy that borders on prog-rock and "Love Lies Bleeding" features John snarling out the lyrics over a backing that pits throbbing piano lines against wailing guitar riffs over the relentless churning of the rhythm section. It all added up to a four-star feast of rock fireworks that showed off the full range of the musical skills Elton John could summon in the studio. "Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" was too long for a single release but got plenty of airplay on FM stations that were predisposed toward rock epics and remains a fiery favorite whenever John performs it in concert.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 1973 Def Jam / Island / Rocket Group Pty LTD / Universal 11:09
No Image 1983 DJM Records 0:00
To Be Continued... 1990 MCA 11:07
Classic Rock Box: WNEW-FM 25th Anniversary Box 1992
Various Artists
PolyGram 11:06
Dream Ticket 2004 WAB
No Image Rock