Daniel was written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. This arrangement is by Bob Hooper.
The lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin, Elton’s writing partner. When Elton wrote the music for it, he chopped off the last verse because he thought the song was already too long. This completely changed the meaning of the song, as the deleted verse explained that “Daniel” was a Vietnam Vet who returned home to the farm after the war, couldn’t find peace, and decided to leave America and go to Spain. With the last verse chopped off, it became a fairly vague story of two brothers who part ways.
This was written and recorded on the same day. Taupin wrote the lyrics one morning at the recording studio and brought them downstairs to Elton, who put music to it and recorded with the band that day.
This was part of a very productive song writing period for Taupin and John. In an effort to quickly record songs for the album, they wrote 12 songs over a 2 day period. This was one of them.
The record company didn’t want to release this as a single because they thought it was too long and somber to be a hit. Elton had other ideas, and insisted they release it as a single before the album came out. The record company did, but with very little promotion and it became a hit anyway.
According to Elton John: The Definitive Biography, here’s how the album got its title – While in Los Angeles, Elton was introduced to the legendary comedian Groucho Marx. They hit it off, but Groucho was always giving Elton a hard time about his name, insisting that he must have it backwards and really be John Elton. After Groucho refused to lay off the name thing at a party, Elton threw up his hands and said jokingly: “Don’t shoot me, I’m just the piano player.”
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