|"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"|
|Single by Elton John|
|from the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road|
|Released||15 October 1973|
|Format||7- & 12-inch records|
|Studio||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 was composed by John for his seventh studio album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Its musical style and production was 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 film adaptation of Lyman Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz. In that film, Dorothy and her three misfit 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 a good life but realizing he has simply been treated like a pet by his rich socialite lover.
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"). 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 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.
John named his farewell tour after the song, naming it "Farewell Yellow Brick Road."
Weekly singles charts
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". Additionally, it is featured in Lars Von Trier's film "Breaking the Waves".
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.
Rock band Queens of the Stone Age covered the song for the 2018 tribute album Revamp: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin.