Goodbye Yellow Brick Road - Elton John
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"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" - Elton John (1973)
The musical style and production of Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"was heavily influenced by 1970s soft rock.
Released in 1973 as the album's second single after "Bennie and the Jets", it 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 in sales and popularity quickly following its release. In the US, it was certified Gold in January 1974.
The Yellow Brick Road is an image taken from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. In the movie, Dorothy and her friends are instructed to follow the yellow brick road in search of the magical 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 are about giving up a life of opulence for one of simplicity in a rural setting. Elton has enjoyed a very extravagant lifestyle, while Taupin prefers to keep it low key and his desire to "Get back to his roots"
Bernie Taupin was, at heart, always a country boy, whereas Elton was experiencing with the high life. Elton had begun to abuse drugs and alcohol, and isolated himself from his former friends. After a while, Bernie may have felt out of place around Elton's social scene. He wants to know when Elton "is going to come down" from both drugs and his ego, and feels resentful about being "planted in a penthouse" in the city. He may have also resented being showcased as someone whose talent revolved around Elton rather than having equal merit in their compositions.
The track is essentially a warning from the lyricist to the musician. He insinuates that if he is not appreciated more, Elton can go find a "replacement" out of a pool of "mongrels", in other words, shallow sycophants who would work with Elton as a way to selfishly advance their own career, seeing him opportunistically as a "tidbit on the ground".
"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" has been treated very well by music critics. It has been described as "delicate and beautiful" "a vocal triumph" and a "pinnacle of its style".
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