Elton John – Island Girl

First Hit #1: November 1, 1975

Speaking of Elton John, he continues his string of fun singles with Island Girl, which is about an exceptionally tall prostitute. Some have suggested that the prostitute is a man – and they edit the song’s Wikipedia stub – possibly because John is gay anyway and they assume he has no imagination. Never mind that he’s also singing from the perspective of a young black man, another thing Elton John is not, or that it’s actually much more interesting than the question of gender suggests. There’s a back story here, one that’s not really brushed on in the song but is quite interesting. Apart from the island girl apparently being really good at sex, why is she in New York? We get clues – something about a racket boss, something about making it in the white man’s world – but her motivations are a mystery. And there’s a weird implication that she’s killing her customers. But through it all we have a hopelessly naive – and grammatically unstudied – kid trying to rescue her from her life. There’s never any indication that she wants to be rescued, but it’s all filtered through that childish naivety which twists the story further. It’s a song that asks more questions than it gives answers, and it puts a kicking synthesizer solo in the middle so you can somewhat rock out.

It’s a fascinating song, and it’s disappointing to think that “well Elton John is gay so it’s about some gay thing” overshadows the much more interesting questions the songs poses, and the personalities which are brought forth in the track. The gender question doesn’t matter, the story is interesting no matter what.

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