Elton said this in the sleeve notes of the 7" single:
- "...As I was writing this song one Sunday, I imagined myself floating into space and looking down at my own body. I was imagining myself dying. Morbidly obsessed with these thoughts, I wrote this song about death. The next day I was told that Guy (Burchett), our 17 year-old messenger boy, had been tragically killed on his motorcycle the day before. Guy died on the day I wrote this song."
The song opens with an octaved solo piano. Shortly after the intro, a percussion section comes in, with additional wind chimes and synthesizers layered in as the melody repeats. The song is instrumental until the end, in which the line ' "Life isn't everything" 'is repeated over the primary melody line of the song.
It stands as one of the few songs written by John alone.
This song has been a live staple in Europe where it is well-known. In 1992, Elton played it together with Your Song to close some concerts. It was also one of his most successful singles in his homeland, peaking at #4 in January 1979, and remaining on the chart for ten weeks. It wasn't released in the U.S. until March 1979 where it barely made the charts, peaking at #110. It was a modest success, though, on the American adult contemporary charts, where it peaked at #37 in the spring of 1979.
The single version cut one and a half minutes from the song. On The Very Best of Elton John, this is mistaken as the duration when it is actually the album version that appears.
The song is also used in the seventh episode of "Diamonds in the Sky", the BBC, Channel 9 Perth 1979 co-production about the history of commercial aviation and is also played frequently in the 1980 Disney movie "Oh Heavenly Dog" starring Chevy Chase and Jane Seymour and directed by Rod Browning.