Andy Sullivan: Against the Grain
Elton John and Bernie Taupin wr0te “Step Into Christmas” . The song was recorded November 11, 1973, at Morgan Studios in Willesden, London. It was released November 23, 1973. In 2009, “Step Into Christmas” was listed as the ninth most-played Christmas song of the 200’s in the U.K. In December 2021, the song was certified double platinum by the British Phonographic Industry for sales and streams of 1,200,000 units. In September 2021, the song was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales and streams of 500,000 units.
1973 was an epic year for Elton John, with the release of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road making him a globally renowned and revered superstar. For the love and support he received after its release, he wanted to say “thnk you” to his fans as an audible version of a Christmas card.
“Let’s do a Christmas record!” said Elton who recalled the song’s creation years later. “In those days we made records all the time. Bernie absolutely loves Christmas songs, so he was all for it”.
For the first time, they decided to write a standalone Christmas single. Elton and Bernie wanted to recall the Ronnettes’ honey-sweet vocal, paying homage to the band’s producer Phil Spector, who had influenced both significantly.
“We wanted to pay homage to Phil Spector. Part of what made Phil Spector records were the rooms, the musicians and ambiance”, explained Elton, with Kiki Dee providing uncredited background vocals. If you’re asking who she is, go listen to “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton. She’s the female vocalist on the song.
At the time of release, “Step Into Christmas” only reached #24 in the charts in the UK, but later re-entered the charts in 2019, where it peaked at #8. Across the pond, there was more success for the song, hitting the #1 spot on the Billboard Christmas Singles charts in the U.S. (www.smoothradio.com)
How much do I love the Christmas originals I’ve chronicled the past two weeks? The first song I added to My Christmas Favorites playlist was “Last Christmas” by Wham! The second? “Step Into Christmas”. One more week until Christmas means one more of my personal Christmas original favorites to chronicle. Which song gets that distinction? You’ll have to come back here next week and find out! Check out my podcast Blendertainment at the links below.