The song was released in the U.S. in October 1970 as the B-side to "Take Me to the Pilot". Both received airplay, but "Your Song" was preferred by disc jockeys and replaced "Take Me to the Pilot" as the A-side, eventually making both the UK and U.S. top ten charts.
Recently Mike Skinner's cover of the song was in turn covered by Champagne Circuit:, the lyrics in this version were tailored to coincide with John's brother who was incarcerated and Big Dave who was after him, this version became an internet phenomenon and achieved thousands of hits on youTube.
The lyrics express the romantic thoughts of an innocent. Taupin offers a straightforward love-song lyric at the beginning: "It's a little bit funny this feeling inside / I'm not one of those who can easily hide / I don't have much money but boy if I did / I'd buy a big house where we both could live." At times the self-deprecating narrator stumbles to get out his feelings, which despite being a melodramatic device, Allmusic calls "effective and sweet": "So excuse me forgetting but these things I do / You see I've forgotten if they're green or they're blue / Anyway the thing is what I really mean / Yours are the sweetest eyes I've ever seen / And you can tell everybody this is your song / It may be quite simple but now that it's done."
The song was part of a stockpile of songs John and Taupin wrote in 1969 while living together. John pinpoints his composition of the music to October 27. Supposedly, it took him only ten minutes. Taupin had penned the lyrics earlier that day over breakfast. John cites the song as one of his favourites, and plays it at many of his concerts. In an interview, he commented that "[he doesn't] think [he has] written a love song as good since".
"Your Song" was praised by critics upon release and in subsequent years. Allmusic has stated that it "is a near-perfect song". John Lennon stated the song is "the first new thing that's happened since we [The Beatles] happened. Rolling Stone called the song a "pretty McCartneyesque ballad". In 2004 Rolling Stone included the song in their 2004 list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time at #136.
The song heralded the era of singer/songwriters when it became a hit in 1970. Artists like James Taylor and John Denver would soon achieve fame with similar heartfelt songs featuring a prominent vocal and a soft piano or guitar.
Other artists who have covered the song include:
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