“Bennie And The Jets” is the third track from Elton John’s seventh studio album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, which was released in 1973.
The glam rock song tells a story of a fictional band by the name of “Bennie And The Jets”, where John is a fan of a group. John describes the fame of the group, as well as placing emphasis on the glitz and greed of the time in the lyric: “We’ll kill the fatted calf tonight, so stick around / you’re gonna hear electric music, solid walls of sound”. The group’s wardrobe is also a focus, with Taupin describing the flashy wardrobe Bennie: “She’s got electric boots, a mohair suit / You know I read it in a magazine, oh”.
In a 2014 Rolling Stone interview, Taupin revealed how he viewed the band in his head:
“I saw Bennie and the Jets as a sort of proto-sci-fi punk band, fronted by an androgynous woman, who looks like something out of a Helmut Newton photograph.”
John also spoke about the song in the same Rolling Stone interview:
“When I saw the lyrics for ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ I knew it had to be an off-the-wall type song, an R&B-ish kind of sound or a funky sound. The audience sounds were taken from a show we did at the Royal Festival Hall years earlier. The whole thing is very weird.”
When listening to “Bennie And The Jets”, the song sounds as if it has been recorded live – an intentional decision made by the song’s producer Gus Dudgeon. On Elton John’s website, Dudgeon explained his process and reasoning for adding this element to the song:
“For some weird reason, Elton happened to have hit the opening piano chord of the song exactly one bar before the song actually started […] this chord kept coming on which you normally wouldn’t expect to hear. I turned to engineer [David Hentschel] and I said, ‘What does that remind you of? … It’s the sort of thing that people do on stage just before they’re going to start a song.’ Just to kind of get everybody, ‘Okay, here we go, ready?’ For some reason that chord being there made me think, ‘Maybe we should fake-live this.'”
The music video for “Bennie And The Jets” was uploaded to John’s official YouTube channel on the 22nd May 2017. At the end of June 2023, the video had a total of 13 million views.
“Bennie And The Jets” is certified Gold in the UK and 2x Platinum in the US.
In 2023, “Bennie And The Jets” was part of Elton John’s setlist at his Glastonbury performance, which also marked his final ever UK show.
“Bennie And The Jets” contains a mondegreen (a misunderstood or misinterpreted word or phrase, resulting from the mishearing of lyrics in a song), and it occurs in the lyric “she’s got electric boots, a mohair suit”, which is often misheard as “She’s got electric boobs, and mohair shoes”.
Read the lyrics to “Bennie And The Jets” here.
*All information accurate at the time of publishing (30th June 2023).