Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (song)

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"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"
Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.jpg
Single by Elton John
from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
B-side"Screw You (Young Man's Blues)"
Released7 September 1973 (UK)
15 October 1973 (US)
RecordedMay 1973
StudioChâteau d'Hérouville, France
  • 3:14
Producer(s)Gus Dudgeon
Elton John singles chronology
"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting"
"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"
"Step into Christmas"

"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.[2] Rolling Stone listed the song at No. 390 of its 500 greatest songs of all time in 2010.[4] 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.[5]


The lyrics, written by Taupin, contain autobiographical elements, referring to his childhood on a farm in Lincolnshire.[6] The song expresses a desire to get back to one's "roots", a common theme of Taupin's early lyrics.[7]

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."[8]

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."[7]

Release and reception[edit]


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.

Critical response[edit]

"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" received generally positive response from music critics. Janis Schacht of Circus describes it as "delicate and beautiful".[9] AllMusic writes that the song is "a vocal triumph" and a "pinnacle of its style".[2] 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.[10] 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."[11] Record World called it "a gorgeous John-Taupin tune that rivals their very best compositions" with a "beautiful melody woven through a standout lyric."[12]

In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it No. 390 in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[13]

In 2018, The Guardian ranked the song number six on their list of the 50 greatest Elton John songs,[14] and in 2022, Billboard ranked the song number four on their list of the 75 greatest Elton John songs.[15]

Chart performance[edit]

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,[16] 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.[17] On the US Easy Listening chart, it rose to No. 7 and spent 18 weeks on the charts.[18] In Ireland, it reached No. 4; in the UK it peaked at No. 6.[19]


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.

Live performances[edit]

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.[20]


Charts and certifications[edit]


  1. ^ 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...
  2. ^ a b c Mason, Stewart. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 June 2006.
  3. ^ Block, Fang (22 November 2019). "Handwritten Lyrics to Iconic Elton John Songs to be Auctioned by Bonhams". Barron's. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  4. ^ "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road ranked 390th greatest song". Rolling Stone. 11 December 2003. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  5. ^ "Gold & Platinum – RIAA". Record Industry Association of America. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  6. ^ Lifton, Dave (26 May 2019). "How Bernie Taupin Rejected Fame on 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Townsquare Media. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  7. ^ a b Beviglia, Jim (2020). "Behind The Song: Elton John, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"". American Songwriter. Savage Ventures. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  8. ^ Greene, Andy (14 March 2014). "Elton John and Bernie Taupin Look Back At 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road'". Rolling Stone. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  9. ^ "Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  10. ^ "Top Single Picks" (PDF). Billboard. 20 October 1973. p. 62. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  11. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. 20 October 1973. p. 24. Retrieved 11 December 2021.
  12. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. 27 October 1973. p. 1. Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  13. ^ "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 390th greatest song". Rolling Stone. 11 December 2003. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  14. ^ Simpson, Dave (13 September 2018). "Elton John's 50 greatest songs – ranked!". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  15. ^ "The 75 Best Elton John Songs: Staff List". Billboard. 24 March 2022. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  16. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart". Billboard.
  18. ^ "Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  19. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 284/6. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  20. ^ "'Farewell Yellow Brick Road' tour announced – Elton John". Elton John. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  21. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  22. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". 23 March 1974. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  23. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  24. ^ "Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  25. ^ "flavour of new zealand – search listener". Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  26. ^ "Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". VG-lista.
  27. ^ ""Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" on the South African Singles Chart". Springbok Radio. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
  28. ^ "Elton John: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  29. ^ "Elton John Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  30. ^ "Elton John Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  31. ^ "Elton John Chart History (Hot Rock & Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved April 18, 2021.
  32. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly – Library and Archives Canada". 17 July 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  33. ^ "National Top 100 Singles for 1974". Kent Music Report. 30 December 1974. Retrieved 15 January 2022 – via Imgur.
  34. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Forum – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  35. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1974/Top 100 Songs of 1974". Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  36. ^ "British single certifications – Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 30 November 2021.
  37. ^ "American single certifications – Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 5 March 2020.