Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (song)
|"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"|
|Single by Elton John|
|from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road|
|B-side||"Screw You (Young Man's Blues)"|
|Released||7 September 1973 (UK)|
15 October 1973 (US)
|Studio||Château d'Hérouville, France|
|Elton John singles chronology|
"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is a ballad written by English musician Elton John and songwriter Bernie Taupin, and performed by John. It is the title track on John's album of the same name. The titular road is a reference to L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz film and book series.
The song has been widely praised by critics; some consider it a strong contender for John's finest song ever. Rolling Stone listed the song at No. 390 of its 500 greatest songs of all time in 2010. In the US, it was certified gold on 4 January 1974 and platinum on 13 September 1995 and 2× platinum on 2 March 2020 by the RIAA.
The lyrics, written by Taupin, contain autobiographical elements, referring to his childhood on a farm in Lincolnshire. The song expresses a desire to get back to one's "roots", a common theme of Taupin's early lyrics.
In 2014, Taupin reflected, "It's been said many times, but Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is a cinematic album. The lyrics to the title track do say that I want to leave Oz and get back to the farm. I think that's still my M.O. these days. I don't mind getting out there and doing what everybody else was doing, but I always had to have an escape hatch."
In 2020, he added, "I don't believe I was ever turning my back on success or saying I didn't want it. I just don't believe I was ever that naïve. I think I was just hoping that maybe there was a happy medium way to exist successfully in a more tranquil setting. My only naiveté, I guess, was believing I could do it so early on. I had to travel a long road and visit the school of hard knocks before I could come even close to achieving that goal."
Release and reception
The song was released in 1973 as the album's second single and entered the top ten in both the United Kingdom and the United States. It was one of John's biggest hits, and quickly surpassed his previous single, "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting", in both sales and popularity, following its release.
"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" received generally positive response from music critics. Janis Schacht of Circus describes it as "delicate and beautiful". AllMusic writes that the song is "a vocal triumph" and a "pinnacle of its style". Billboard stated that the song's "sonic impression is still strong and haunting" and the "blending of voices with strings on the bridges is beautiful," although the lyrics are sometimes difficult to understand. Cash Box described the song as "soft, melodic pop that’s going to impress folks all over again as to [John's] performing abilities," going on to say that "Bernie Taupin’s lyrics are again highly poetic and blend perfectly with Elton's music." Record World called it "a gorgeous John-Taupin tune that rivals their very best compositions" with a "beautiful melody woven through a standout lyric."
In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it No. 390 in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
In 2018, The Guardian ranked the song number six on their list of the 50 greatest Elton John songs, and in 2022, Billboard ranked the song number four on their list of the 75 greatest Elton John songs.
In Canada, the single reached No. 1 on the RPM 100 national singles chart on 22 December 1973 and held the position for one week, making it John's third No. 1 in the year 1973 in that country (following "Crocodile Rock" and "Daniel"). On the US Hot 100, it went to No. 2, behind both "Top of the World" by the Carpenters and "The Most Beautiful Girl" by Charlie Rich. On the US Easy Listening chart, it rose to No. 7 and spent 18 weeks on the charts. In Ireland, it reached No. 4; in the UK it peaked at No. 6.
The song's flip side was originally titled "Screw You", although the US release re-titled the song "Young Man's Blues" so that it would not offend American record buyers.
John's One Night Only: The Greatest Hits Live at Madison Square Garden featured this song performed as a duet with Billy Joel.
"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is still regularly included in John's live performances, and John named his farewell tour after the song, naming it the Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour.
- Elton John – piano, vocals
- Davey Johnstone – Leslie electric guitar, backing vocals
- Dee Murray – bass, backing vocals
- Nigel Olsson – drums, backing vocals
- Del Newman – orchestral arrangement
Charts and certifications
Weekly singles charts
- ^ Pitchfork Staff (22 August 2016). "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s". Pitchfork. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
Taupin's words of ambivalence, when paired with an ascendant pop melody worthy of Broadway...
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- ^ Simpson, Dave (13 September 2018). "Elton John's 50 greatest songs – ranked!". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
- ^ "The 75 Best Elton John Songs: Staff List". Billboard. 24 March 2022. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
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- ^ "Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart". Billboard.
- ^ "Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
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- ^ "Australian Chart Book". Austchartbook.com.au. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
- ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". 23 March 1974. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
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- ^ "Elton John Chart History (Hot Rock & Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved April 18, 2021.
- ^ "Image : RPM Weekly – Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
- ^ "National Top 100 Singles for 1974". Kent Music Report. 30 December 1974. Retrieved 15 January 2022 – via Imgur.
- ^ Hung, Steffen. "Forum – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
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- ^ "American single certifications – Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
- 1973 songs
- 1973 singles
- Elton John songs
- Songs with music by Elton John
- Songs with lyrics by Bernie Taupin
- Song recordings produced by Gus Dudgeon
- Cashbox number-one singles
- RPM Top Singles number-one singles
- Pop ballads
- Rock ballads
- 1970s ballads
- DJM Records singles
- MCA Records singles
- Songs about fame
- Songs about roads
- Glam rock songs