Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is the seventh studio album by the English singer-songwriter Elton John. Released in 1973, it has come to be regarded as one of his best and most popular albums.

Recorded at the Château d'Hérouville, the double album contains the Marilyn Monroe tribute "Candle in the Wind" as well as three other successful singles: "Bennie and the Jets", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting".

In 2003, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[1] The album was ranked No. 91 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time,[2] and No. 59 in Channel 4's 2009 list of 100 Greatest Albums.[3] The album has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.[4]


 [hide*1 Production


Under the working titles of Vodka and Tonics and Silent Movies, Talking PicturesBernie 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.[5] He had wanted to go to Jamaica he has said, in part, because the Rolling Stones had just recorded Goats Head Soup there.[6] 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.[5][7] 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.[5] 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,[5] 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). The songs, mostly around the theme of nostalgia for a more humble childhood and an older American culture as seen through eyes of the movies,[5][8] included "Bennie and the Jets", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting", using memories of a Market Rasen pub Taupin frequented when younger,[9] the 11-minute "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding", and the Marilyn Monroe tribute, "Candle in the Wind". "Grey Seal" was previously the B-side of the 1970 single, "Rock n' Roll Madonna", and was re-recorded for the album.[10]

"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 ofCaribou 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) and DVD-Audio (2004). 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
Source Rating
Allmusic [11]
Robert Christgau (B)[12]
Rolling Stone (unfavourable)[13]
Rolling Stone (2004) [14]

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road has come to be regarded as John's best and most popular album,[5] and is his best selling studio album. It has also been seen as one of the most influential albums in music.[citation needed] 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.[2] It was also placed at No. 59 in Channel 4's 2009 list of 100 Greatest Albums.[3]

Track listing[edit]Edit

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)[edit]Edit

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)[edit]Edit

Disc two – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: Revisited & Beyond
No. Title Performer 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)[edit]Edit

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.


According to the album's liner notes:

Additional musicians
  • Dee Murray, Davey Johnstone, Nigel Olsson – backing vocals (1, 2, 4, 10, 13, 17)
  • Del Newman – orchestral arrangement (4, 8–10, 15, 17)
  • Leroy Gómez – saxophone solo on "Social Disease"
  • David Hentschel – A.R.P. (sic.) synthesizer (1, 12)
  • Kiki Dee – backing vocals on "All the Girls Love Alice"
  • 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


Chart positions[edit]Edit

Chart Peak position
Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart[15] 1
Canadian RPM Albums Chart[16] 1
Danish Albums Chart[17] 4
Finnish Albums Chart[18] 26
Italian Albums Chart[19] 5
Japanese Oricon LP Chart[20] 22
Norwegian VG-lista Albums Chart[21] 5
Spanish Albums Chart[22] 8
Swedish Albums Chart[17] 7
UK Albums Chart[23] 1
US Billboard 200[24] 1
West German Media Control Albums Chart[25] 41

Year-end charts[edit]Edit

Chart (1973) Position
Italian Albums Chart[19] 36
Chart (1974) Position
Australian Albums Chart[15] 2
Canadian Albums Chart[26] 37
UK Albums Chart[27] 7
US Billboard Year-End[28] 1

Sales and certifications[edit]Edit

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[29][unreliable source?] 5× Platinum 350,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[30] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[31] 8× Platinum 8,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Preceded by

Goats Head Soup by The Rolling Stones

Canadian RPM 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

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