Elton John – Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)

This song was one of my favorite Lennon tribute songs.

This song is a tribute to John Lennon, who was murdered in 1980. Elton John’s songwriting partner Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics, but Elton certainly felt a connection to the song, as he was good friends with Lennon and is the Godfather of Lennon’s second son, Sean. Elton appeared onstage with John at his final concert in 1974.

Empty Garden peaked at #13 in the Billboard 100, #8 in Canada, #14 in New Zealand, and #51 in the UK in1982

Some of the other songs that are tributes to John are Queen – Life Is Real, George Harrison – All Those Years Ago, Paul McCartney – Here Today, Bob Dylan – Roll On John, and Paul Simon – The Late Great Johnny Ace.

From Songfacts

In the John/Taupin songwriting partnership, Bernie writes the lyrics first and Elton then puts them to music. When writing for the Jump Up album, Elton had some melodies handy and asked Taupin to write words to those, which he did. Taupin has described those songs as “awful” and said, “it’s a very messy album.” “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny),” however, was written their traditional way with the lyrics first, and Taupin has said that it’s the only good song on the album.

When he performed this at a sold-out Madison Square Garden show in August 1982, Elton was joined onstage by Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon.

 

Empty Garden

What happened here
As the New York sunset disappeared
I found an empty garden among the flagstones there
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And now it all looks strange
It’s funny how one insect can damage so much grain

And what’s it for
This little empty garden by the brownstone door
And in the cracks along the sidewalk nothing grows no more
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And we are so amazed, we’re crippled and we’re dazed
A gardener like that one no one can replace

And I’ve been knocking but no one answers
And I’ve been knocking most of the day
Oh and I’ve been calling, oh hey hey Johnny
Can’t you come out to play

And through their tears
Some say he farmed his best in younger years
But he’d have said that roots grow stronger, if only he could hear
Who lived there
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
Now we pray for rain, and with every drop that falls
We hear, we hear your name

And I’ve been knocking but no one answers
And I’ve been knocking most of the day
Oh and I’ve been calling, oh hey hey Johnny
Can’t you come out to play

And I’ve been knocking but no one answers
And I’ve been knocking most all the day
Oh and I’ve been calling, oh hey hey Johnny
Can’t you come out, can you come out to play, Johnny
Can’t you come out to play in your empty garden, Johnny
Can’t you come out to play in your empty garden, Johnny
Can’t you come out to play in your empty garden, Johnny
Can’t you come out to play in your empty garden, Johnny
Can’t you come out to play in your empty garden, Johnny
Can’t you come out to play in your empty garden, Johnny