WCSX Classic Cuts
Elton John: “Philadelphia Freedom”
The Hook: An R&B-based track with strings added separately by noted arranger Gene Page.
Album: Released as a standalone single, it first appeared on Elton John’s Greatest Hits, Volume 2
Writers: Elton John and Bernie Taupin
Stats: Topped the Billboard Hot 100
Background: Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote “Philadelphia Freedom” for their friend Billie Jean King’s pro tennis team of the same name. Guitarist Davey Johnstone and drummer Nigel Olsson say it was only natural when they turned to someone outside to help them capture that city’s famously soulful string sound.
Guitarist Davey Johnstone and drummer Nigel Olsson on Elton John’s r-and-b-based “Philadelphia Freedom.” OC:…real r-and-b. :18
Johnstone: “Gene Page, the string arranger, did the strings on that and we weren’t even at the string session. We cut the track for that up in Caribou Ranch, then Gene Page wrote the arrangement, which when we heard all it, it was like, ‘Wow, it’s strange, but great. Sounds wonderful.’
Olsson: “That was the first song that we ever did with no drum fills.
Johnstone: “We wanted to keep it real straight, real r-and-b.”