"Tiny Dancer" is a 1971 song by Elton John with lyrics by Bernie Taupin. It appears on John's fourth album, Madman Across the Water, and was released as a single in 1972. In the U.S. it was certified Gold on 19 May 2005, and Platinum on 19 August 2011 by the RIAA.
The song was written by Taupin to capture the spirit of California in 1970 encapsulated by the many beautiful women he met, because there are so many band seamstresses in California. A common misconception concerning this song is that it was written for Maxine Feibelman, Bernie Taupin's first wife. Rather, the song was simply dedicated to her on the album Madman Across the Water.
Another common misconception is that the song references Billy Joel in the line "Piano man he makes his stand". The Billy Joel song was based on experiences that occurred in 1972. Tiny Dancer was recorded in 1971.
The song features a piano-based melody during verses and an arrangement that at the start features pedal steel guitar and light percussion but, transitioning subtly halfway through one of the choruses, by the end is driven by Paul Buckmaster's dynamic strings, along with a barely heard backing choir.
Due to the song lacking a strong hook, "Tiny Dancer" was initially a non-starter as a single in the US, reaching only #41 on the U.S. pop chart, and was not even released as a single in the UK. The song fared better in Canada, where John had much of his early commercial breakthrough success, peaking at #19. It was also a hit in Australia, peaking at #13. Eventually, the song slowly became one of John's most popular songs even in the territories that initially failed to embrace it, and the full-length version is now a fixture on North American, UK and Australian adult contemporary and rock radio stations.
It was ranked No. 397 on the 2011 List of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
- "Tiny Dancer" has been covered by Lani Hall in the 1970s, by the Red Hot Chili Peppers with John Frusciante on vocals since the early 1990s, by Dave Grohl on The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn.
- In 2002, Ben Folds covered "Tiny Dancer" for his live album, Ben Folds Live. The song was later released as a promo single.
- Country music artist Tim McGraw covered the song on his 2002 album Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors. McGraw also performed the song, with Elton John, at the American Music Awards.
- In 2008, a version was released by Italian DJ Marco DeMark and singer Casey Barnes. It was later remixed by Deadmau5 & Moto Blanco.
- In 2009, DJ Ironik and Chipmunk created a remix of the song, featuring John singing the chorus, which peaked at No.3 in the UK Singles Chart.
- Corey Taylor played this song at his Sonisphere Festival Knebworth solo performance as the opening number.
- A sample of the "Tiny Dancer" chorus is featured in a mash-up by Girl Talk called "Smash Your Head" (from the 2006 album Night Ripper).
- A version featuring Mary Black, Paddy Casey and Declan O'Rourke was recorded in Galway, Ireland in 2012 as a charity single.
- A country version of this song was created by Disk Eyes Productions for a 'Gone Country' series featuring the songs of Elton John in 2005.
- On 8 April 2013, Caroline Glaser performed "Tiny Dancer" before a live audience and celebrity judges in her National TV debut on the hit show "The Voice."
- John performed the song on the first series of The Old Grey Whistle Test. The performance has been released as part of The Old Grey Whistle Test - Volumes 1-3 Box Set.
- In the song S.O.S. (Rescue Me), Rihanna sings "Just hold me close boy 'cause I'm your tiny dancer."
- A reference to this song was made in sitcoms Friends and Will and Grace. In both shows, the same joke was used where a character (Phoebe in the former, Grace in the latter) confuses the lyrics as "Hold me closer, Tony Danza".
- The song was featured in 1980 in "The Americanization of Ivan" episode of WKRP in Cincinnati. References to the song were made throughout the show, and was featured during the closing credits.
- The cast of Almost Famous (2000) sings along to the song while riding in the tour bus. It is also featured as instrumental incidental music in a phonic reference to Penny Lane.
- The song was featured in a Budweiser TV commercial starring Peter Stormare and Andrew Sensenig that premiered during Fox Broadcasting's telecast ofSuper Bowl XLV on 6 February 2011.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt performed the song in a lip-syncing competition against Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Merchant on Fallon's Late Night show.
- In the season 2 episode of "The Office" called "The Dundies," Michael Scott sings the song but changing he words to "You have won a tiny Dundie," an office award, before bar patrons mock him, calling out "Sing it, Elton!" Later the "Tiny Dancer" chorus plays over the final scene as Jim Halpert watches Pam Beesly and Angela Martin drive away.