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Elton John Rockets to Number One

"Candle in the Wind 1997" breaks first-week single sales record

October 1, 1997 12:00 AM ET

After topping sales charts all over Europe, Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" broke the record for first-week sales of a single in the U.S., according to SoundScan. The single, which John recorded as a benefit after singing it at Princess Diana's funeral, sold 3.4 million copies during the week ending September 28 to enter the singles chart at No. 1. The previous record during the time SoundScan has been tabulating sales belonged to Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," which sold 632,000 copies in its first week on the charts.

John's new album, "The Big Picture," got a significant boost from the resulting publicity, selling 101,000 copies to debut at No. 9 on the album sales chart. The No. 1 spot went to Boyz II Men's new album, "Evolution," which sold 211,000 copies. Other notable albums entering the chart included EPMD's "Back in Business" (which debuted at No. 16), Bjork's "Homogenic" (No. 28), the Sundays' "Static & Silence (No. 33), Jackson Browne's "The Next Voice You Hear: The Best of Jackson Browne" (No. 47) and Stereolab's "Dots and Loops" (No. 111).

Rounding out the Top Ten were LeAnn Rimes' "You Light Up My Life - Inspirational Songs" (with 200,000 copies sold); Mariah Carey's "Butterfly" (171,000); Brooks & Dunn's "The Greatest Hits Collection" (120,000); Master P's "Ghetto D" (109,000); Fleetwood Mac's "The Dance" (108,000); Busta Rhymes' "When Disaster Strikes..." (106,000); Puff Daddy's "No Way Out" (104,000), and Aqua's "Aquarium" (100,000).

Country artists also benefited from publicity this week -- though not as much as Elton John. In the wake of CBS' broadcast of the Country Music Association Awards, several country albums -- including Tim McGraw's "Everywhere," George Strait's "Carrying Your Love With Me" and Brooks and Dunn's and Trisha Yearwood's greatest hits collections -- saw significant sales gains. Also benefiting from the telecast was LeAnn Rimes, whose new album sold only 5,000 fewer copies than it did last week.

Not all the news was good, however. In its fifth week on the charts, Oasis' "Be Here Now" falls to No. 34, a precipitous decline.

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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