Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973) – Elton John

This title track of the classic album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road follows up my post from last month of the opening of the record – Funeral For a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road above just about any other song immerses me into the wellspring of my upbringing. For me this album and song is my musical heritage since it certainly builds on nostalgia for a childhood and culture left in the past.
I remember when I was prepubescent and calling a major radio station in Sydney and recommending that they play this song for my father, which they did. I once had an audio recording of the lovely brief conversation I had with the radio presenter.

To my ears, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is one of the greatest albums in contemporary music and this title track certainly leads the way. Elton John was at the height of his songwriting prowess when he laid this down. It is widely regarded as his Magnum Opus.
What’s staggering to recall is Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics in two and a half weeks, with John composing most of the music in three days while staying at the Pink Flamingo Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica. They ended up recording the album in France.

When are you gonna come down?
When are you going to land?
I should have stayed on the farm
I should have listened to my old man

You know you can’t hold me forever
I didn’t sign up with you
I’m not a present for your friends to open
This boy’s too young to be singing
The blues, ah, ah

So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can’t plant me in your penthouse
I’m going back to my plough

Wikipedia purports: The lyrics by Bernie Taupin deal with a toy boy saying farewell to his drug-addled socialite sugar daddy / mama and longing for his country roots.
Now, if that doesn’t throw a spanner in the dewy-eyed works. I didn’t know that until researching this song. Still, I’ll remember Goodbye Yellow Brick Road fondly as I always have for other reasons.
The song was the second single from the album and was one of John’s biggest hits, and quickly surpassed his previous single, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting“, in both sales and popularity.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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13 comments on “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973) – Elton John
  1. Badfinger (Max) says:

    This is one of his best songs. They really clicked together writing this one. He couldn’t lose for a 4-5 year stretch.

    • It’s in my top 10 songs by him. I think artistically and creatively it’s in his top 3. I also can’t think of another song in contemporary music which has this kind of music and lyric. Certainly a one-off.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        Contemporary music…no not like this. Tiny Dancer would be my 1st and yea….I would say this would be in my top 3

      • GYBR has a distinctive musical / theatrical feel to it and so does the whole album. It’s a masterpiece, pure and simple. Bit synchronous with Born to Run for Springsteen how it could be interpreted in its event-ness.
        I know Tiny Dancer is your top. Is that because of its effect in ‘Almost Famous’? What’s your background there?

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        I liked Tiny Dancer before that BUT…that only helped it. What a powerful scene that made. For me that was the best scene of a great movie with a lot of good scenes.

      • I’m watching the scene now on YT. It was semi-autobiographical of Crowe’s stint at RT.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        I’ve read where he combined 3-4 bands in composite. Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, Eagles, and Humble Pie.
        Something about that scene really moves me.

      • In the movie you mean. Ok. perhaps he did. I don’t know much about howw any of them operated on the road.

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        Wild, Wild, and Wild lol. The “Golden God” reference is something Robert Plant said.

      • In the bus..where is that said?

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        No that is a different scene…not on the bus…but it’s said when the guitar player is jumping off a roof into a pool I believe.

  2. I love this song and album, which I agree is one of the greatest in contemporary music, if not all time.

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