"Roundabout" is a song by the English progressive rock band Yes. It is the first single released from their fourth studio album, Fragile (1971). "Roundabout" has become one of the best-known songs by Yes. The song was released as a shortened single with the track "Long Distance Runaround" in January 1972. It peaked at No. 13 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and number 10 on the Cash Box Top 100.
Written by singer Jon Anderson and guitarist Steve Howe during The Yes Album Tour, the lyrics are obscure, and have been the subject of much debate on music discussion sites. The most commonly accepted interpretation is that the lyrics are about the personal life of Jon Anderson and his hoped-for return home after the tour ends.
The song begins with an acoustic guitar solo in E minor from Steve Howe. This lasts for about 40 seconds. Thereafter, Chris Squire's bass enters along with Bill Bruford's drums. Howe continues his guitar part in octaves, leading up to Anderson's entrance and the first verse. The first two verses continue in this manner. The bridge ("In and around the lake...") starts after the second verse. Anderson and Howe continue their parts. The keyboard enters thereafter before Squire and Bruford. A vocal harmony from Anderson, Howe, and Squire tops off the bridge.
The third verse starts with the first theme and the bridge is repeated with the second. After the second bridge a third theme begins. The vocal harmony established in the bridge continues. The acoustic guitar intro repeats, but with the addition of an intricate keyboard part. Thereafter, an organ solo from Wakeman accompanied by the electric guitar occurs. The theme is the same as the bridge. The song ends with a repetition of the first verse and bridge. The outro goes back to the key of E major with another acoustic guitar solo from Howe in similar fashion to the original intro.
An edited version was released as a single in 1972, with the track "Long Distance Runaround" on the B-side. It peaked at No. 13 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and reached No. 23 on the Dutch Top 40.Billboard ranked it as the No. 91 song for 1972. The full-length, album version was used a B-side in 1973 and a live version was released as a bonus single in copies of Classic Yes in 1981.
"Roundabout" has become one of the best-known Yes songs; it has been performed at nearly every concert since November 1971 and is their most played song live. It was used as the theme music for BBC concert programme "Sounds for Saturday". "Roundabout" was used in the 1999 film Outside Providence. In 2003, on the DVD commentary of School of Rock, actor Jack Black states that Wakeman's solo is his personal favourite keyboard solo. "Roundabout" is a playable track in the music game Rock Band 3, but has an extra harmonic at the beginning of the song. The song is referenced in the Season 4 episode of The Venture Bros. "Perchance to Dean", in which a similar melody is played like the ending to the actual track. In 2012, "Roundabout" was used as the ending theme song for the first season of the modern anime adaptation of the Japanese manga JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. According to the director, "Roundabout" was one of many songs JoJo author Hirohiko Araki listened to when he first wrote the story. "Roundabout" was featured on the re-released version of Grand Theft Auto V'sLos Santos Rock Radio tracklist.