“Someone Saved My Life Tonight” is one of Elton John’s most anguished songs — as it’s about coming back from the brink of two anguished and desperate situations in which Elton John actually found himself. He survived both thanks to lyricist Bernie Taupin … who then essentially wrote this song about himself.
In the late ’60s, John was playing in musician Long John Baldry’s band when he met a woman named Linda Woodrow at a club. Planning to marry, they moved into an apartment in North London and took in Taupin as a roommate. In the notes for the John/Taupin tribute Two Rooms (via SongFacts), John explained, “I went out and got drunk with Long John Baldry and Bernie, and John said I shouldn’t get married. I knew he was right,” Elton explained, alluding to how he’s now openly homosexual, “but I didn’t know how to get out of it, so I just got drunk and went home and said I’m not getting married.”
Taupin added in Two Rooms that John’s suicide attempt while they were flatmates also inspired “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.” Taupin “smelt gas” one day, and went into the kitchen. “And there’s Elton lying on the floor with the gas oven open. My immediate thing should have been ‘Oh my god, he’s tried to kill himself.’ But I started laughing because he’d got the gas oven open, he was lying on a pillow and he’d opened all the windows.”
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).