Music Friday: The Sun Rolls High Through the Sapphire Sky in Disney’s ‘Circle of Life’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you fabulous songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we feature the Oscar-nominated “Circle of Life,” the 1994 Disney collaboration between two musical powerhouses — lyricist Tim Rice and composer Elton John.

circleoflife1

Written for the blockbuster animated film The Lion King, “Circle of Life” is about nature’s way of taking from — and giving back — to the earth. Rice, a brilliant wordsmith, uses a precious gemstone to paint a vivid picture of a planet in harmony. In the memorable opening scene, a newborn lion cub, Simba, is held aloft by the monkey Rafiki, atop Pride Rock — against a sapphire blue sky.

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John sings, “There’s far too much to take in here / More to find than can ever be found / But the sun rolling high through the sapphire sky / Keeps great and small on the endless round.”

“Circle of Life” was one of three Lion King titles to be nominated for the 1994 Academy Award for Best Song. The Oscar ended up going to “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” another Rice/John tour de force.

Even though “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” took the award, John has said that he preferred “Circle of Life.” He characterized Rice’s lyrics as “brilliant” and he often performs the song in concert.

“Circle of Life” has two versions, one sung by Carmen Twillie in the film’s opening scene, and the pop version performed by John with the support of the London Community Gospel Choir. John’s version became a Top 20 hit in both the U.S. and the UK.

Interestingly, both Rice and John were knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, Rice in 1994 and John in 1998. Rice is best known for writing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. John has had 58 Billboard Top-40 singles and has sold more than 300 million records worldwide.

The video below of John and the London Community Gospel Choir performing “Circle of Life” has been viewed 13.67 million times. We provide the lyrics below because we know you will be singing along…

“Circle of Life”
Lyrics by Tim Rice. Music by Elton John. Performed by Elton John.

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There’s more to be seen than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done

Some say eat or be eaten
Some say live and let live
But all are agreed as they join the stampede
You should never take more than you give

In the circle of life
It’s the wheel of fortune
It’s the leap of faith
It’s the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life

Some of us fall by the wayside
And some of us soar to the stars
And some of us sail through our troubles
And some have to live with the scars

There’s far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round

Images: Screen captures via YouTube

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