Elton John has more famous songs than just about any other man on the planet, but somehow his very first hit, “Your Song,” has proved to be his most enduring composition. The song exploded onto radio in 1970 and really hasn’t left. “I wrote it when I was 17, hence the extraordinary virginal sentiments,” Bernie Taupin said. “It’s a gem. It’s like a good dog, always there . . . I’ve heard it sung a million times.”
He’s exaggerating only slightly. Elton has performed “Your Song” at nearly every one of his concerts over the past 43 years. It’s often the final encore, though he opens many of his solo acoustic shows with it. Setlist.FM says he’s played it 1,861 times, but the real number is surely well over 2,000. Assuming it’s only 2,000 times, that means he’s spent five and a half days of his life singing “Your Song.”
Here’s an incredible video montage of Elton performing the song from 1970 through the late 1990s. It’s great fun to watch his hair begin to thin, get covered up by hats, go gray, and then magically come back fuller and browner than ever. The costumes become more and more elaborate, until they disappear completely in the Nineties. His voice also deepens, particular after major throat problems in 1986, but he never half-asses the performance.