March 22, 2014| « back

GYBR Song-by-Song: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road


Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Song Title: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Song Length: 3:14
Song Writers: Elton John/Bernie Taupin

Elton John – Piano, Vocals
Davey Johnstone – Leslie Guitars, Backing Vocals
Dee Murray – Bass, Backing Vocals
Nigel Olsson – Drums, Backing Vocals
Del Newman – Orchestral Arrangement

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, the fourth song on Elton’s seventh studio effort, was nearly the album’s title track in a different way: the lyric’s phrase “vodka and tonics” was considered briefly (as was “Silent Movies And Talking Pictures”) before the final decision was made.

Elton wrote Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in January 1973 in Jamaica to a lyric that Bernie had completed beforehand. “When I write I usually get a chord sequence,” Elton explains in the 2001 Classic Albums DVD. “And I stumbled on [the opening chords] by accident. It was the intro that I got first.” Despite its incredibly smooth sound, the track contains one of the more complex structures in any of Elton’s songs, even prompting Davey Johnstone to actually write down the chords during the recording process…a rare undertaking on the guitarist’s part.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was recorded on May 10, at the Château d’Hérouville in France. It was released as the album’s second single on September 21, 1973 in the UK, and soon afterwards in the US. It reached #6 on the British singles charts (spending a total of 16 weeks overall) and #2 in the US, where it remained on the Hot 100 for 17 weeks. The single was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1995, and Rolling Stone magazine listed it amongst their “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” in 2010.

Elton and the band first played Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in concert in 1973, prior to the album’s release, and have performed it on many subsequent tours, including his current one – Follow The Yellow Brick Road. A live version of the song can be found on Elton’s One Night Only – The Greatest Hits CD and DVD (2000).

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road has been recorded by American country music singer Hunter Hayes for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: Revisited & Beyond (available on the 5-disc Super Deluxe and 2-disc Deluxe anniversary editions released on March 24 and 25).