Elton John – “Levon” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Elton John’s “Levon” spins a tale of a man trapped by tradition and expectation. The titular Levon seems to be caught between the allure of wealth and the personal toll it takes. It’s a story about dreams deferred and the generational push and pull, with Levon’s son Jesus representing a new hope that seeks to soar beyond his father’s grounded existence. The song is steeped in the cultural context of its time, reflecting on the fading American Dream. Elton John, with Bernie Taupin’s lyrical prowess, created “Levon” not just as a narrative but as a commentary on life’s often unfulfilled promises and the search for meaning within them.

Curious about Levon and his war wounds? Why is his child named Jesus? If these questions tug at your thoughts, keep reading. The story woven into the song “Levon” by Elton John is rich and reflective, with layers that peel back to reveal the heart of the American spirit.

“Levon” Lyrics Meaning

From the first line, we’re introduced to a character who carries his past like a badge of honor or maybe a heavy crown. The war wound represents both Levon’s pride and his burdens. His son, named Jesus, could be seen as a beacon of hope, a savior of sorts from a life of monotony. But there’s a twist—Jesus is sent to the best schools, an attempt perhaps to ensure he doesn’t end up like Levon, counting money in a garage.

As we navigate the song, we see the contrast between father and son. Levon, who likes his money, represents a generation that finds value in wealth and material success. Yet, this success has him rooted in one place, “by the motorway,” a symbol of paths not taken, lives not lived.

Jesus, on the other hand, is literally elevating himself with balloons, dreaming of Venus—a metaphor for reaching for the stars, for something beyond the conventional. While Levon is slowly dying (metaphorically or literally), Jesus wants to escape, to live, to not let Levon’s fate be his own.

The repetition of “he shall be a good man” feels almost like a mantra or a prayer, a hope that Levon places on Jesus, wishing him to break the mold, even as Levon himself is stuck “in tradition with the family plan.”

The Story Behind “Levon”

“Levon” came to life in an era of disillusionment. It was a time when the American Dream was being questioned, the Vietnam War was in full swing, and cultural shifts were creating new divides. In this backdrop, Bernie Taupin presented a character study of Levon—a man whose dreams and aspirations were perhaps curtailed by the arrival of his son, societal expectations, and the relentless passage of time.

Elton John, with his haunting melodies, brought Taupin’s words to life, capturing the essence of the era and the emotions of the characters. This song emerged from a duo at the peak of their creative powers, reflecting a shared state of mind that was inquisitive, reflective, and somewhat melancholic.

Understanding the mindset of Taupin and John during this period helps us see “Levon” not just as a story about a man and his son but as a narrative woven into the fabric of its time—a timeless piece that continues to resonate because of its universal themes of hope, ambition, and the quest for a life beyond the one we’re handed.