Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (song)
|"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"|
|Single by Elton John|
|from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road|
|Released||15 October 1973|
|Format||Vinyl record (7" and 12")|
|Recorded||May 1973 at Château d'Hérouville, France|
|Elton John singles chronology|
"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is a ballad performed by musician Elton John. Lyrics for the song were written by Bernie Taupin and the music composed by John for his album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Its musical style and production were heavily influenced by 1970s soft rock. It was widely praised by critics, and some critics have named it John's best song.
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 surpassed the previous single, Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting, in sales and popularity quickly following its release. In the US, it was certified Gold on 4 January 1974 and Platinum on 13 September 1995 by the RIAA.
The Yellow Brick Road is an image taken from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. In the movie, Dorothy and her friends are instructed to follow the yellow brick road in search of the Wizard of Oz, only to find that they had what they were looking for all along. The road leads to the Emerald City in the land of Oz, often referred to as a metaphor for "The road that leads to life's fantasies" or "The road that leads to life's answers." The lyrics describe wanting to go back to a simpler existence after living what the narrator thought was the good life, but realizing they had simply been treated like a pet.
The Wizard of Oz was reportedly the first film that Elton John's songwriting partner Bernie Taupin had ever seen, and he used the imagery in the lyrics relating to his own life as his desire to "get back to [his] roots".
"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". In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it No. 380 in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
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").> It entered the US charts at No. 62, the highest debut of that week and in seven weeks rose to the No. 2 spot (8 December 1973), where it stayed for three weeks. In Ireland, it reached No. 4; in the UK it peaked at No. 6.
The song's flip side is a song called "Screw You", though the US release re-titled the song "Young Man's Blues" so as not to offend American record buyers.
John's One Night Only: The Greatest Hits Live at Madison Square Garden had this song done as a duet with Billy Joel.
"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is still regularly included in John's live performances, although since 1997 he has transposed the key of the song downward (from F major to E-flat major) due to no longer being able to sing its high falsetto chorus.
On 12 November 2010, he performed the song live at Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas.
- 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
Weekly singles charts
In popular culture and cover versions
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On rapper Raekwon's 2009 album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II, RZA, a close friend of John's, sampled the song on the track "Kiss the Ring". John has allowed few other instances of sampling of his music.
The song was featured in David O. Russell's film American Hustle and the film's soundtrack. It also features in the 1990s British television series "Our Friends in the North" and Thomas Vinterberg's 2016 film "The Commune".
An instrumental version of the song as featured on an episode of Japanese variety show AKBingo!, during comments about "heart-warming" story from Ali Takajo's grandfather.
In July 2008, Ben & Jerry's created a limited-batch ice cream flavor, Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road, in honor of an Elton John performance in Vermont. Sales proceeds were donated to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
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"Top Of The World" by Carpenters
|Canadian RPM 100 number-one single
22 December 1973
"The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" by Charlie Rich
"Top of the World" by Carpenters
|Cash Box Top 100 number-one single
8 December 1973
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