The spotlight's hittin' something that's been known to change the weather
We'll kill the fatted calf tonight so stick around
You're gonna hear electric music solid walls of sound
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is the seventh studio album recorded by British pop rock musician Elton John. It was released through DJM Records in the United Kingdom, and MCA Records in the United States, on 5 October 1973.
Elton originally wanted to produce the album in Jamaica, but logistics issues surrounding the world championship boxing match between Joe Frazier and George Foreman stymied that. So he settled for returning to Château d'Hérouville in France, where he had produced Honky Château and Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player. Once settled, it took barely more than two weeks to produce.
It wasn't intended to be a double album, but Elton and writing partner Bernie Taupin wrote enough good songs to do so; they wrote 22 songs, and used 18 of them.
The album was a roaring success in the United States, where it topped the Billboard 200 album chart in its fourth week of release, staying there through the Holiday season; it would top the year-end Billboard 200 chart for 1974, and go eight-times Platinum. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, it would top the charts and go Platinum there as well.
Four singles were released from the album: "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting", the Title Track, "Bennie and the Jets", and "Candle in the Wind". "Bennie" would be his second #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, while "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" would hit #2; both would go double-Platinum as singles. All four were hits in the UK (respectively, #7, #6, #37, and #11).note
When the album was first pressed to CD, it was pressed to a single disc, as the combined albums could fit in the "Red Book" CD-DA format. Remasters in 1992 and 1995 were also pressed to a single CD. A 30th anniversary edition in 2003 split the album back into its original two-disc format, with the second disc including three B-sides and an acoustic version of "Candle in the Wind".
Two versions were made for a 40th anniversary re-release in 2014, both with the remastered original single CD as the first disc. The deluxe edition included a new second disc with some covers (which feature the likes of Ed Sheeran, Wale, and Fall Out Boy, among others) and a selection of recordings from a concert at Hammersmith Odeon in 1973. The super deluxe edition had a different second disc that had the covers along with the previous bonus tracks and other older Elton John songs, two more discs with a wider selection of songs from the Hammersmith Odeon concert, and a DVD featuring an abridged documentary with Elton John and Bernie Taupin originally filmed in 1973.
A documentary about the creative process behind the making of the album was featured in the TV series Classic Albums.
- "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" (11:09)
- "Candle in the Wind" (3:50)
- "Bennie and the Jets" (5:23)
- "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (3:13)
- "This Song Has No Title" (2:23)
- "Grey Seal" (4:00)
- "Jamaica Jerk-Off" (3:39)
- "I've Seen That Movie Too" (5:59)
- "Sweet Painted Lady" (3:54)
- "The Ballad of Danny Bailey (19091934)" (4:23)
- "Dirty Little Girl" (5:00)
- "All the Girls Love Alice" (5:09)
- "Your Sister Can't Twist (but She Can Rock 'n' Roll)" (2:42)
- "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" (4:57)
- "Roy Rogers" (4:07)
- "Social Disease" (3:42)
- "Harmony" (2:46)
"Saturday night's all right for troping, get a little action in"
- Added Alliterative Appeal: "Social Disease"My bulldog is barking in the backyard
- The Alcoholic:
- "Social Disease"For I just get ugly and older
I get juiced on Mateus and just hang loose
And I get bombed for breakfast in the morning
I get bombed for dinner time and tea
- "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting".I'm a juvenile product of the working class
Whose best friend floats in the bottom of a glass
- "Social Disease"
- Alliterative Name: "Roy Rogers".
- Alliterative Title: "Jamaica Jerk-Off", "All the Girls Love Alice", "Funeral for a Friend".
- As the Good Book Says...: "Bennie and the Jets" references the Parable of the Prodigal Son:We'll kill the fatted calf tonight, so stick around
- Ballad of X: "The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-1934)"
- B-Movie: "I've Seen That Movie Too"I'm not the blue print for all of your B films
- Break Up Song: "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" is about a country boy breaking up with his rich girlfriend/sugar mama.
- Bury Your Gays: "All the Girls Love Alice," the ballad of a teenage lesbian prostitute who tragically dies young.
- Call to Agriculture: "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"You can't plant me in your penthouse
I'm going back to my plough
- Camp Follower: "Sweet Painted Lady" depicts prostitutes "getting paid for being laid" by sailors on leave, whom never even care or think of their conquests once they go back to sea.
- Country Mouse: "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"I should've stayed on the farm, I should've listened to my old man.
- Cryptically Unhelpful Answer: "I've Seen That Movie Too".Baby you're crazyIf you think that you can fool meBecause I've seen that movie tooThe one where the players are acting surprisedSaying love's just a four-letter wordBetween forcing smiles, with the knives in their eyesWell their actions become so absurd
- Dancing Is Serious Business: "Your Sister Can't Twist (but She Can Rock 'n' Roll)".
- Drowning My Sorrows: Referenced in "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"What do you think you'll do, then?
I bet that'll shoot down your plane
It'll take you a couple of vodka and tonics
To set you on your feet again
- Epic Instrumental Opener: The 11-minute-long "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" has an entirely instrumental first half.
- Epic Rocking: "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" tops eleven minutes and "I've Seen That Movie Too" is nearly six minutes long.
- Face on the Cover: Elton standing full frontal, even with his name on the back of his sweater.
- Fake Band: Bennie and the Jets in "Bennie and the Jets".
- For Doom the Bell Tolls: "Funeral for a Friend" has bells resounding.
- Freudian Excuse: The titular protagonist of "All the Girls Love Alice" has her teenage rebellion attributed to "a simple case of Mummy Doesn't Love Me Blues."
- Genre Roulette: The album switches from Progressive Rock ("Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding") to melodic piano ballads (the title track) to minimalistic Glam Rock ("Bennie and the Jets") to Stonesy rockers ("Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting") to Beatle-esque numbers ("Harmony") to soft rock ("Candle in the Wind") to Reggae ("Jamaica Jerk-Off") to boogie blues-rock ("Dirty Little Girl") to proto-disco-soul ("Grey Seal") to pseudo-doo-wop ("Your Sister Can't Twist (but She Can Rock 'n' Roll)") to country ("Roy Rogers", "Social Disease") to '20's jazz ("Sweet Painted Lady") to cinematic pieces like "The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-1934)" and the aptly-named "I've Seen That Movie Too".
- Grief Song: "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding"; the instrumental first half was written as an example of the kind of music Elton would like to have played at his funeral. "Candle in the Wind", which was written as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe who died 11 years before this song was recorded.
- Homage: "Candle in the Wind", written for Marilyn Monroe (whom Elton refers to by her original name: Norma Jean), which would become a Repurposed Pop Song in 1997 when Elton wrote it to commemorate the sudden death of Princess Diana. That version effectively became the best-selling single of all time for a while, surpassing even "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby. Nowadays "White Christmas" is back to being the best-selling one.
- Instrumental: "Funeral for a Friend".
- Intentionally Awkward Title: "Jamaica Jerk-Off".
- Lower-Class Lout: Played for Laughs with "Social Disease", where a drunk lower-class person is being described.
- Lust Object: "Candle in the Wind", where Elton describes Marilyn Monroe as being more than just a sex symbol.Hollywood created a superstarAnd pain was the price you paidEven when you diedOh the press still hounded youAll the papers had to sayWas that Marilyn was found in the nudeGoodbye Norma JeanFrom the young man in the 22nd rowWho sees you as something as more than sexualMore than just our Marilyn Monroe
- Meaningful Rename: "Candle in the Wind" addresses Marilyn Monroe by her real name, Norma Jean Baker. This is because the song looks at the person behind the myth.
- Name and Name: "Bennie and the Jets".
- Nice Shoes: Elton wears plateau shoes on the album cover.
- Ode to Intoxication: "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting".
- Off to See the Wizard: The title and album cover are a shout-out to The Wizard of Oz.
- One-Man Song: "The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-1934)", "Roy Rogers".
- One-Woman Song: "Sweet Painted Lady", "Dirty Little Girl", "All the Girls Love Alice", "Your Sister Can't Twist (but She Can Rock 'n' Roll)".
- One-Word Title: "Harmony".
- Overly Long Title: "Your Sister Can't Twist (but She Can Rock 'n' Roll)".
- The Phoenix: Mentioned in (and illustrating) "Grey Seal".
- Portal Picture: Elton on the cover is stepping into a wall-size poster.
- Repurposed Pop Song: "Candle in the Wind" would be re-used again in 1997 after the death of Princess Diana. Elton John re-released the single and modified the lyrics somewhat to make the references about her instead of Marilyn Monroe.
- Rock-Star Song: "Bennie and the Jets".You're gonna hear electric musicSolid walls of soundSay, Candy and Ronnie, have you seen them yet?But they're so spaced out, Bennie and the JetsOh, but they're weird and they're wonderful
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: The title track.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
- Spell My Name with an "S": "Bennie and the Jets" is spelled "Bennie" on the single sleeve, but "Benny" on the album sleeve.
- Stiff Upper Lip: "Roy Rogers":Nine o'clock mornings
Five o'clock evenings
I'd liven the pace if I could
I'd rather have ham in my sandwich than cheese
But complaining wouldn't do any good.
- Stylistic Suck: The audience in "Bennie and the Jets" is clapping behind the beat.
- This Is a Song: "This Song Has No Title," which interestingly enough doesn't appear in the lyrics either.
- Title Track: "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road."
- "Untitled" Title: "This Song Has No Title".
- Word Salad Lyrics: Bernie Taupin himself says that he doesn't know what the lyrics to "Grey Seal" mean. Sounds cool, though.