A Single Man is the twelfth studio album by British singer/songwriter Elton John, released in 1978. This is the first album where John would collaborate withGary Osborne, who wrote the lyrics.


 [hide*1 Background


It is the first of John's albums to not feature longtime collaborators Bernie Taupin (lyricist) and Gus Dudgeon (producer). As Gary Osborne was an unknown at the time, many people misinterpreted the album's title to imply that John wrote the entire album himself. The only returning members of his band are percussionist Ray Cooper and guitarist Davey Johnstone; the latter only played on one song on the album. Paul Buckmaster would not appear on another Elton John album until Made in England.

Unlike previous compositions in which lyrics came first, John began writing melodies at a piano and an album unintentionally became of it.

This was John's first in which he started singing in a lower register.


The hit "Song for Guy" was a tribute to Guy Burchett, a young Rocket messenger who was killed in a motorcycle accident. The song was a near-global success, charting high everywhere except the US and Canada, where John's label, MCA Records, didn't feel that it had hit potential, due to the recent success of the instrumental "Music Box Dancer".

The songs "Return to Paradise" and "Song for Guy" are used in the 1980 film Oh! Heavenly Dog.


The photo for the front cover was taken in the Long Walk, which is part of Windsor Great Park in Berkshire. The inside cover shows John in a Jaguar XK140 FHC.

In the US, A Single Man was certified gold in October 1978 and platinum in November of the same year by the RIAA.


A Single Man was John's first album ever to be officially released in the former USSR, though his previous releases had been smuggled into the country in various forms. It was released following the success of his A Single Man in Concert shows in Moscow and Leningrad, though it differed in two ways from its release elsewhere. Firstly, the album was re-titled Poyot Elton John ["Elton John sings" in Russian]. Secondly, on some prints, both "Big Dipper" and "Part-Time Love" were removed, due to the subject matter of the songs. Curiously, John had performed "Part-Time Love" at the USSR shows without objection from Soviet officials.

Later releases[edit]Edit

The 1998 reissue has five bonus tracks, the first two being the 1978 flop-single "Ego", and its B-side "Flinstone Boy". The next two tracks are the B-sides of "Part-Time Love" and "Song for Guy" ("I Cry at Night" and "Lovesick" respectively), and the last track, "Strangers", originally B-side of his 1979 disco-album title track, "Victim of Love". Some releases of his 1980 album, 21 at 33, also have "Strangers" as a bonus track.

Promotion and live performances[edit]Edit

At the time of release, John performed some songs from the album on shows such as Countdown (miming "Georgia" and "Madness"), Top of the Pops (miming "Part-Time Love" and performing "Song for Guy"), Bruce Forsyth's Big Night (performing "Part-Time Love"), Parkinson (performing "Song for Guy") and Rockpop (miming "Return to Paradise" and "Part-Time Love"). He performed two solo sets: one for MCA personnel at the Century Plaza Hotel on 14 October 1978 (performing "Shine on Through", "Return to Paradise" and "Song for Guy") and the other at a RTL studio on 20 October 1978 (performing "Part-Time Love", "Shooting Star" and "Song for Guy"). John's tour in 1979 included songs from the album ("Part-Time Love" and "Song for Guy").

Since that period, songs other than "Song for Guy" have not been performed.

Track listing[edit]Edit

All songs by Elton John and Gary Osborne, except where noted.

Side one[edit]Edit

  1. "Shine on Through" – 3:45
  2. "Return to Paradise" – 4:15
  3. "I Don't Care" – 4:23
  4. "Big Dipper" – 4:04
  5. "It Ain't Gonna Be Easy" – 8:27

Side two[edit]Edit

  1. "Part-Time Love" – 3:16
  2. "Georgia" – 4:50
  3. "Shooting Star" – 2:44
  4. "Madness" – 5:53
  5. "Reverie" (John) – 0:53
  6. "Song for Guy" (John) – 6:35

Bonus tracks (1998 Mercury reissue)[edit]Edit

  1. "Ego" (John, Bernie Taupin) – 4:00
  2. "Flinstone Boy" (John) – 4:13
  3. "I Cry at Night" (John, Taupin) – 3:16
  4. "Lovesick" (John, Taupin) – 3:59
  5. "Strangers" (John, Osborne) – 4:46


Song Format
"I Cry at Night" "Part-Time Love" 7" (US/UK)
"Lovesick" "Song for Guy" 7" (US/UK)




Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[4] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[5] Gold 100,000
Netherlands (NVPI)[6] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[7] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[8] Platinum 1,000,000^

  • sales figures based on certification alone ^shipments figures based on certification alone


Chart positions[edit]Edit

Chart (1978–79) Peak position
Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart[9] 8
Canadian RPM Albums Chart[10] 12
Dutch Mega Albums Chart[11] 16
French SNEP Albums Chart[12] 2
Italian Albums Chart[13] 13
Japanese Oricon LP Chart[14] 74
New Zealand Albums Chart[15] 5
Norwegian VG-lista Albums Chart[16] 4
Spanish Albums Chart[17] 12
Swedish Albums Chart[18] 26
UK Albums Chart[19] 8
US Billboard 200[20] 15
West German Media Control Albums Chart[21] 17

Year-end charts[edit]Edit

Chart (1978) Position
Australian Albums Chart[9] 82
Canadian Albums Chart[22] 93
French Albums Chart[23] 6
Chart (1979) Position
Australian Albums Chart[9] 28
Italian Albums Chart[13] 43
UK Albums Chart[24] 82

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