Stacks of 45’s – Border Song/Bad Side of the Moon

Holy Moses I have been deceived

When I was young before I had cassettes, the only good way of making a playlist of songs was to stack 45s on the turntable. I would arrange for them to play my favorite songs in my favorite order. These posts are about records I had in my stacks.

“Border Song” is an enduring classic in the vast discography of the legendary British singer-songwriter Elton John. Lyrics written by Bernie Taupin while Elton composed the music and added the last verse, this song was first released as a single in 1970 and subsequently featured on Elton John’s eponymous second studio album.

Its unique blend of gospel, soul, and pop, coupled with its deeply spiritual lyrics, has solidified its place as one of Elton John’s early masterpieces. This essay delves into the song’s history, musical style, lyrical themes, and its lasting legacy. “Border Song” emerged during a dynamic period in Elton John’s career. Released at the turn of the 1970s, it marked the artist’s growing prominence on the international music scene.

While Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics, Elton John composed the music and added the last verse, which showcases their collaborative process. This additional verse further contributes to the song’s depth and emotional impact.

His self-titled album, which featured this track, played a pivotal role in establishing him as a major force in popular music. “Border Song” stands out for its eclectic musical style. The song seamlessly fuses elements of gospel, soul, and pop, with Elton John’s piano-driven melodies forming the core.

The influence of gospel music is particularly striking, evident in the song’s use of a gospel choir and the emotional depth of John’s vocals. The uplifting and spiritual aura of the track is a testament to its unique sound. Bernie Taupin’s lyrics in “Border Song” explore themes of spirituality, faith, and the quest for meaning. The ‘border’ referred to in the song is often interpreted as a metaphor for the boundary between life and death.

  • Elton John – piano, lead vocals
  • Madeline Bell – backing vocals
  • Tony Burrows – backing vocals
  • Roger Cook – backing vocals
  • Brian Dee – organ
  • Lesley Duncan – backing vocals
  • Kay Garner – backing vocals
  • Colin Green – guitar
  • Tony Hazzard – backing vocals
  • Clive Hicks – guitar
  • Barry Morgan – drums
  • Dave Richmond – bass
  • The choir led by Barbara Moore
  • Arranged and conducted by Paul Buckmaster

The lyrics convey a sense of hope, as the protagonist seeks solace and purpose in the face of life’s trials and tribulations. Lines like “Holy Moses I have been deceived” underscore a sense of disillusionment, while the chorus, with its repeated refrain “Holy Moses,” serves as a plea for guidance and redemption. The song’s ability to address profound existential questions through its lyrics is a testament to the songwriting prowess of Taupin and the interpretive skills of Elton John.

“Border Song” achieved moderate chart success, reaching number 92 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 34 on the UK Singles Chart. Its enduring popularity is evident through the numerous cover versions recorded by artists such as Aretha Franklin and Eric Clapton, who were drawn to the song’s emotive power and spiritual resonance.

The song’s B-side, “Bad Side of the Moon” also written by John and Taupin), was subsequently covered by April Wine, whose version is on the album On Record and was released as their second single from that album, and by Toe Fat, whose version appears on their self-titled debut album and was also released as a single. The song became a big hit in Canada, reaching No. 16 there.

It remains a cherished track in Elton John’s extensive catalog. It continues to be a staple of his live performances, captivating audiences with its emotional depth and timeless message. Its legacy is a testament to the enduring power of music to connect with listeners on a profound level, inviting them to explore themes of faith and spirituality through the medium of song.

“Border Song” by Elton John is a gospel-inspired classic that has left an indelible mark on the world of popular music. Its blend of musical styles, poignant lyrics, and spiritual themes has ensured its enduring appeal. Through its rich history and timeless sound, “Border Song” stands as a testament to the artistic brilliance of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Border Song

Holy Moses I have been removed
I have seen the spectre he has been here too
Distant cousin from down the line
Brand of people who ain't my kind
Holy Moses I have been removed

Holy Moses I have been deceived
Now the wind has changed direction and I'll have to leave
Won't you please excuse my frankness but it's not my cup of tea
Holy Moses I have been deceived

I'm going back to the border
Where my affairs, my affairs ain't abused
I can't take any more bad water
Been poisoned from my head down to my shoes

Holy Moses I have been deceived
Holy Moses let us live in peace
Let us strive to find a way to make all hatred cease
There's a man over there
What's his colour I don't care
He's my brother let us live in peace
He's my brother let us live in peace
He's my brother let us live in peace

Further Reading


Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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