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Monday, October 11, 1999 Published at 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK


Elton's candle burns in Canada

Sir Elton's tribute is a slow-burning success in Canada

For a song about the fragility of human life, sales of Sir Elton John's tribute to Diana Princess of Wales, Candle In The Wind 1997, have proved remarkably robust - in Canada at least.

The single is enjoying a staggering 107th week in the Canadian Top 10, currently at number eight.

The song dominated the number one slot in the country for 45 weeks and was still in the top three some 17 months after its release.

[ image: Sir Elton singing at Westminster Abbey, September 1997]
Sir Elton singing at Westminster Abbey, September 1997
The continued chart success of the Sir Elton's song perhaps owes less to the sentimentality of Canadians, than to the size of the population.

With barely 30m people, a record requires only relatively modest sales to ensure a high chart placing.

In the UK the song, which Sir Elton performed at the Diana's funeral on 6 September 1997, became the fastest-selling record of all time.

The single grabbed the number one slot on the first day of its release, with more than 650,000 copies snapped up in 24 hours.

After just one week record shops had shifted more than 1.5m copies of the star's reworked tribute to Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe.

[ image: Marilyn Monroe was the song's original heroine]
Marilyn Monroe was the song's original heroine
In its 24 weeks in the British hit parade, five of which it spent at number one, the track notched up sales of more than 5m.

Around the world, upwards of 33m sales of the charity single were made, boosting the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund to the tune of more than £20m.

The single even outsold Bing Crosby's seemingly unassailable record-breaker, White Christmas.

In 24 months on the Canadian chart, only 1m copies of Candle In The Wind 1997 have been sold.

Pressing of the recording ended in January 1998, but a surplus of production means that Canada's record stores are still awash with discs waiting to be bought.

Despite the spectacular sums it raised for charity, both Sir Elton and his long-time collaborator Bernie Taupin are keen to put the song in its proper perspective.

Lyricist Taupin was forced to overhaul the song's original words - its attack on media intrusion deemed inappropriate in the wake of Diana's death.

The version sung by Sir Elton at Westminster Abbey is somewhat clumsy, yet it fitted the national mood.

[ image: Celine Dion: A funeral favourite]
Celine Dion: A funeral favourite
Sir Elton was also quick to draw a line under the song. "I think it's time to give it a rest," he said in 1998.

It seems Canada has not yet had its fill, though its citizens cannot be accused of having the monopoly on mawkishness.

Canadian exports Bryan Adams and Celine Dion have both enjoyed considerable success around the world.

Adams spent 16 weeks at number one in the UK with his sentimental ballad (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, which became the best-selling song of 1991.

Some Canadians have put the chart success of Candle In The Wind 1997 down to copies being purchased to be played at funerals.

In a recent survey it was found that Britons favour Celine Dion's Titanic hit My Heart Will Go On. The track is preferred over Candle In The Wind 1997 and even Engelbert Humperdinck's Release Me.

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