Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Studio album by Elton John
Released 5 October 1973
Recorded Château d'Hérouville, Hérouville, France, May 1973 using a 16 track tape recorder
Genre Rock, pop rock[1]
Length 76:20
Label MCA (US)
Producer Gus Dudgeon
Elton John chronology
Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Singles from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  1. "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting"
    Released: 16 July 1973
  2. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"
    Released: 15 October 1973
  3. "Candle in the Wind"
    Released: 1974
  4. "Bennie and the Jets"
    Released: 4 February 1974

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is the seventh studio album by Elton John, released in 1973. It is regarded as one of his best and most popular, in addition to being his first double album. It was recorded at the Château d'Hérouville after problems recording at the intended location of Jamaica. Among the 17 tracks, the album contains the hits "Candle in the Wind", "Bennie and the Jets", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" plus "Funeral for a Friend" and "Harmony".

Originally intended as a regular single album, the experience in transferring from Jamaica to the château proved to be conducive to producing such quality material, that it was decided to release the album as a double.[2]

In 2003, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[3] The album was ranked number 91 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time,[4] and number 59 in Channel 4's 2009 list of 100 Greatest Albums.[5] The album has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.[6]


Under the working titles of Vodka and Tonics and Silent Movies, Talking Pictures, 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.[7] He had wanted to go to Jamaica he has said, in part, because the Rolling Stones had just recorded Goats Head Soup there.[8] Production on the album was started in Jamaica in January 1973, though after difficulties with the sound system and the studio piano, coupled with disturbance due to the Joe Frazier and George Foreman boxing match taking place in Kingston, and violent political tension due to the poor economic situation, the band decided to move before any productive work was done.[7][9] Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was recorded in two weeks at the Château d'Hérouville in France, where John had previously recorded Honky Château and Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player.[7] Only a version of "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" was recorded in Jamaica, but that recording was discarded and the final, released version of the song came from the sessions at the château.

According to the album's producer, Gus Dudgeon, the album was not planned as a two-record collection. In total, John and Taupin composed 22 tracks for the album,[7] of which 18 (counting "Funeral for a Friend" and "Love Lies Bleeding" as two discrete tracks) were used, enough that it was released as a double album, John's first (three more such albums followed up to 2011). Through the medium of cinematic metaphor, the album builds on nostalgia for a childhood and culture left in the past. [7][10] Tracks include "Bennie and the Jets", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", [11] the 11-minute "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding", and the Marilyn Monroe tribute "Candle in the Wind". "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" was inspired by memories of a Market Rasen pub Taupin frequented when younger. "Grey Seal", previously the B-side of the 1970 single "Rock n' Roll Madonna", was re-recorded for the album.[12]

"Harmony", the album's final track, was considered as a fourth single, but was not issued at the time because the chart longevity of the album and its singles brought it too close to the upcoming releases of Caribou and its proposed accompanying singles. It was, however, used as the B-side of the American release of the "Bennie and the Jets" single, and was popular on FM playlists of the day, especially WBZ-FM in Boston, whose top 40 chart allowed for the inclusion of LP cuts and B-sides as voted for by listeners. "Harmony" spent three weeks at No. 1 on WBZ-FM's chart in June 1974 and ranked No. 6 for the year, with "Bennie and the Jets" at No. 1 and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" behind "Harmony" at No. 7. "Harmony" was released as a single in Britain in 1980 and failed to chart.


The original 1973 LP, when released on CD, was released on two discs, while the 1992 and 1995 CD remasters put the album on one disc as it was slightly less than 80 minutes.

The 30th anniversary edition followed the original format, splitting the album across two discs to allow the inclusion of the bonus tracks, while a DVD on the making of the album was also included. The album has also been released by Mobile Fidelity as a single disc 24 carat gold CD. The album (including all four bonus tracks) was released on SACD (2003), DVD-Audio (2004), and Blu-ray Audio (2014).[13] These high resolution releases included the original stereo mixes, as well as 5.1 remixes produced and engineered by Greg Penny.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Robert Christgau(B)[15]
Rolling Stone(unfavourable)[16]
Rolling Stone(2004) [17]
Slant Magazine[18]

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road has come to be regarded as John's best and most popular album,[7] and is his best selling studio album. Three singles were released in the US: "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", "Bennie and the Jets" and "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting".

In the US it was certified gold in October 1973, 5× platinum in March 1993, and eventually 8x platinum in February 2014 by the RIAA.

The album was ranked No. 91 on Rolling Stone magazine's 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[4] It was also placed at No. 59 in Channel 4's 2009 list of 100 Greatest Albums.[5]

Track listing

All songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin except "Funeral for a Friend" written by Elton John.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding"   11:09
2. "Candle in the Wind"   3:50
3. "Bennie and the Jets"   5:23
Side two
No. Title Length
4. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"   3:13
5. "This Song Has No Title"   2:23
6. "Grey Seal"   4:00
7. "Jamaica Jerk-Off"   3:39
8. "I've Seen That Movie Too"   5:59
Side three
No. Title Length
9. "Sweet Painted Lady"   3:54
10. "The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909–34)"   4:23
11. "Dirty Little Girl"   5:00
12. "All the Girls Love Alice"   5:09
Side four
No. Title Length
13. "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock 'n Roll)"   2:42
14. "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting"   4:57
15. "Roy Rogers"   4:07
16. "Social Disease"   3:42
17. "Harmony"   2:46
30th Anniversary deluxe edition (2003)
Bonus tracks
No. Title Length
18. "Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again)" (B-side of "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting") 2:52
19. "Jack Rabbit" (B-side of "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting") 1:50
20. "Screw You (Young Man's Blues)" (B-side of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road") 4:42
21. "Candle in the Wind" (2003 acoustic remix by Greg Penny) 3:51
40th Anniversary deluxe edition (2014)
Disc two – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: Revisited & Beyond
No. TitlePerformer Length
1. "Candle in the Wind"  Ed Sheeran 3:19
2. "Bennie and the Jets"  Miguel featuring Wale 5:09
3. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road"  Hunter Hayes 3:07
4. "Grey Seal"  The Band Perry 3:38
5. "Sweet Painted Lady"  John Grant 3:56
6. "All the Girls Love Alice"  Emeli Sandé 3:34
7. "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock 'n Roll)"  Imelda May 2:49
8. "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting"  Fall Out Boy 3:43
9. "Harmony"  Zac Brown Band 2:57
10. "Candle in the Wind" (Live at Hammersmith Odeon 1973)  4:04
11. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (Live at Hammersmith Odeon 1973)  3:07
12. "All the Girls Love Alice" (Live at Hammersmith Odeon 1973)  7:18
13. "Bennie and the Jets" (Live at Hammersmith Odeon 1973)  6:08
14. "Rocket Man" (Live at Hammersmith Odeon 1973)  4:55
15. "Daniel" (Live at Hammersmith Odeon 1973)  4:16
16. "Honky Cat" (Live at Hammersmith Odeon 1973)  7:15
17. "Crocodile Rock" (Live at Hammersmith Odeon 1973)  3:55
18. "Your Song" (Live at Hammersmith Odeon 1973)  4:08
40th Anniversary super deluxe edition (2014)

Note: The version of "Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again)" appears to be taken directly from the 1980 compilation album "Lady Samantha" whereas it features the fade out of applause from the previous track on that album ("Rock 'n Roll Madonna") at the beginning of the track and the intro drum roll from "Bad Side of the Moon" at the end of the track. This is likely an error.

Note: The DVD version of this film edits about 10 minutes from the original 1973 documentary which ran for 56 minutes. Notable edits are all interview segments with John Reid, Dick James, and Elton's mother, as well as footage of Bernie Taupin with his then-girlfriend Maxine and two live clips of "All the Girls Love Alice" and "Crocodile Rock" at the Hollywood Bowl.


According to the album's liner notes:

Additional musicians
  • Producer: Gus Dudgeon
  • Engineer: David Hentschel
  • Assistant engineers: Peter Kelsey, Andy Scott
  • Tape operator: Barry Sage
  • Orchestra contractor: David Katz
  • Arranger: Del Newman
  • Art direction: David Larkham, Michael Ross
  • Artwork: David Larkham, Michael Ross, Ian Beck
  • Liner notes: Gus Dudgeon, John Tobler

Charts and certifications

Weekly charts

Chart Peak
Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart[19] 1
Canadian RPM Albums Chart[20] 1
Danish Albums Chart[21] 4
Finnish Albums Chart[22] 26
Italian Albums Chart[23] 5
Japanese Oricon LP Chart[24] 22
Norwegian VG-lista Albums Chart[25] 5
Spanish Albums Chart[26] 8
Swedish Albums Chart[21] 7
UK Albums Chart[27] 1
US Billboard 200[28] 1
West German Media Control Albums Chart[29] 41

Year-end charts

Chart (1973) Position
Italian Albums Chart[23] 36
Chart (1974) Position
Australian Albums Chart[19] 2
Canadian Albums Chart[30] 37
UK Albums Chart[31] 7
US Billboard Year-End[32] 1

Sales and certifications

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[33] 5× Platinum 350,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[34] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[35] 8× Platinum 8,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Preceded by
Goats Head Soup
by The Rolling Stones
Canadian RPM 100 number-one album
3 November – 1 December 1973
Succeeded by
You Don't Mess Around with Jim
by Jim Croce
US Billboard 200 number-one album
10 November 1973 – 4 January 1974
Succeeded by
The Singles: 1969–1973 by The Carpenters
Preceded by
Dreams Are Nuthin' More Than Wishes by David Cassidy
UK number-one album
22–29 December 1973
Succeeded by
Tales from Topographic Oceans by Yes
Preceded by
Jonathan Livingston Seagull (soundtrack)
by Neil Diamond
Australian Kent Music Report number-one album
18 March – 7 April 1974
Succeeded by
Band on the Run
by Paul McCartney & Wings


  1. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  2. John Tobler (1995). "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road".
  3. "Grammy Hall of Fame Award. Retrieved 21 December 2012
  4. 1 2 "500 Greatest Albums of All Time: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  5. 1 2 "The 100 Greatest Albums – Features – The Results – Channel 4". Retrieved 30 December 2010.
  6. Savage, Mark. "Elton John: On the Yellow Brick Road". BBC Entertainment. BBC News. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Claude Bernardin, Tom Stanton (1996). Rocket man: Elton John from A-Z. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 123. ISBN 0-275-95698-9. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
  8. Radio Two: Johnnie Walkers Long Players, February 2012
  9. Documentary Classic Albums: Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Check |url= value (help). UK: ISIS Productions, Eagle Rock Entertainment. 2001. Event occurs at approx. 16 minutes. Retrieved 24 December 2007.
  10. "Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". Retrieved 30 December 2010.
  11. "The Aston Arms in Market Rasen has been singled out as a top spot for drinkers by Scottish whisky brand The Famous Grouse.". Retrieved 30 December 2010.
  12. Claude Bernardin, Tom Stanton (1996). Rocket man: Elton John from A-Z. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 177. ISBN 0-275-95698-9. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
  13. "High Fidelity Pure Audio showcase of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (40th Anniversary Edition)". Digital Lifestyle. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  14. "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  15. "CG: elton john". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  16. Stephen Davis (22 November 1973). "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  17. "Elton John: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 6 January 2012.
  18. "Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  19. 1 2 Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  20. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 29 October 2011
  21. 1 2 Billboard – 24 November – 1973. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  22. Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin - levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. p. 263. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
  23. 1 2 "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1973" (in Italian). Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  24. Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  25. " Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  26. Nielsen Business Media, Inc (1973-12-22). Billboard – 23 December – 1973. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  27. "Chart Stats – Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (PHP). UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  28. "allmusic ((( Goodbye Yellow Brick Road > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  29. "Album Search: Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  30. "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1974". RPM. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  31. "The Official UK Charts Company : ALBUM CHART HISTORY". Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  32. " – Year End Charts – Year-end Albums – The Billboard 200". Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 11 October 2007.
  33. "Top 200 Highest Selling Albums in Australia". Hung Medien. 14 December 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  34. "British album certifications – Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". British Phonographic Industry. Enter Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  35. "American album certifications – Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
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