Elton John

Tiny Dancer

Composed by Elton John / Bernie Taupin

Song Review by

Given new life and significance by its inclusion in the film Almost Famous (2000) -- an excellent rock & roll movie -- "Tiny Dancer" experienced something of a rebirth during the turn into the 21st century. Not that the popular song ever really left the radio waves, but it benefited from this fresh look. The warm Stonesy ballad served as a unifying plot element, a moment of family-like comfort and camaraderie for the motley crew of rock stars and groupies on a tour bus during an emotionally raw time in the tour. Out of this context of the film, one could be forgiven for writing the song off as a melodramatic bit of navel-gazing from a rock star, an ode to his "blue jean baby" on the road with him. In the scene, however, "Tiny Dancer" seems to be a tender ballad, and a catchy singalong as well. Sure, it's a tribute to a groupie, and -- along with yet another of Elton John's aching and graceful melodies and heartfelt performances -- that is what makes it sweet; it's a heartfelt love song, not the usual rock/groupie braggadocio along the lines of "American Band" or a sordid play on perception of rock stars' exploits like "Stray Cat Blues."

Bernie Taupin makes like a pop-poet here, with sharp-eyed details from the road mixed with silly-yet-romantic characterizations of women ("tiny dancer"?), as the narrator falls in love with one out of the spotlights: "Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band/Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you'll marry a music man/Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand/And now she's in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand/Hold me closer tiny dancer/Count the headlights on the highway/Lay me down in sheets of linen/You had a busy day today."

As always, John provides a stunning melody and country-pop arrangement, augmented by Paul Buckmaster's lush and dramatic strings. Clocking in at over six minutes, the sweep of the song is epic, with electric and pedal steel guitar licks and a choir of backing vocalists. Despite its length, "Tiny Dancer" just missed cracking the Top 40. The music offsets rather than accents any sappiness from the lyric. And as the film demonstrates, a sickly sweet pop song in just the right context can be a magical thing.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Madman Across the Water 1971 Def Jam / Island / Rocket Group Pty LTD 6:17
Your Songs 1985 MCA 6:14
Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 1986 Island / Def Jam / motownmoe.com / Polydor / Universal 6:16
To Be Continued... 1990 MCA 6:15
My Girl 2 1994
Original Soundtrack
Epic 6:14
Almost Famous 2000
Original Soundtrack
Dreamworks SKG 6:15
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 6:17
The Greatest Hits 1970-2002 2002 Island / Universal 6:18
The Ultimate Chick Flick Love Songs 2003
Various Artists
Warner Music 6:12
Dream Ticket 2004 WAB
Acoustic, Vol. 5 2005
Various Artists
Echo / Echo Label / V2 6:14
Chronicles 2005 Island 6:17
Rocket Man: The Definitive Hits 2007 UMVD / Universal Distribution 6:16
Rocket Man: Number Ones 2007 Island / Mercury 6:17
No Image 2007 Universal Distribution 6:14
Rocket Man 2007 Mercury 6:18
Best Movie Album in the World Ever 2008
Various Artists
EMD Int'l 6:14
Gnomeo and Juliet 2011
Original Soundtrack
Buena Vista 6:16
5 Classic Albums (1970-1973) 2012 Island / Mercury 6:17
Now That's What I Call Movies 2013
Various Artists
Sony Music 6:12
Diamonds 2017 Island / Mercury / Universal 6:15
70s Mixtape
Various Artists
UMe / Universal 6:13
Classic Elton John Polygram
No Image Rock
Rock & Romance Collection
Various Artists
Time Life 6:17
Rock Icons
Various Artists
Universal 6:16
Tiny Dancer Mercury 6:15
Tumble Weed Collection Mercury 6:03