The song was written and recorded by John at London’s DJM studios in the spring of 1968; although its lyrics are credited to Bernie Taupin, John revealed he actually penned the lyrics in his memoir.
The track was actually among the six finalists under consideration for the U.K.’s Eurovision Song Contest entry in 1969, with the winning song — as chosen by British viewers — performed at the annual event by Lulu. “I Can’t Go on Living Without You” finished in last place of the six finalists. Ahead of the vote, Lulu performed the song on her BBC1 show Happening for Lulu on February 1st, 1969. As John wrote of the performance in his diary: “Went into the office. General reaction to Lulu — not very good.”
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More than 50 years after it was recorded, John’s own version of “I Can’t Go on Living Without You” is being released for the first time on Jewel Box, with the track getting a “2020 polish” courtesy of producer Mark “Spike” Stent.
The eight-CD Elton: Jewel Box, out Friday, begins with John’s 1965 work in his early band Bluesology and goes all the way to his Academy Award-winning song “(I’m Gonna) Love Me” from the soundtrack of his 2019 biopic Rocketman. There are 148 songs in total and several of them have never been released or even bootlegged prior to this box.