Thursday, June 23, 2016

When Music Mattered - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)

You do not need an eclectic taste in music to be able to enjoy Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. If you listen to real music (stuff written before 1990), then you have heard at least one tune off this record. This is a double record that has hit after hit on all four sides. The songs that are not hits are great, and I find it difficult to point to any track on this record as a throw away track. From start to finish, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is one of the finest classic rock albums ever made and it stands the test of time.

Songs like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Candle in the Wind highlight the track list for this record, but every song is a strong entry. While everyone has probably heard at least one song from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, the shame of it is that not enough people have heard all of the songs from this album. Tunes such as Sweet Painted Lady and This Song Has No Title are great songs that help to give this album a bit of an iconic feel.


In 1973, it was a risk for an artist like Elton John to release a double album. The double album became in style after 1973, but John was taking a serious risk in putting out that much material. This was a record recorded under some interesting circumstances, and it was an album that needed to be successful for Elton John to break through. As usually is the story with the greats, the breakthrough album was a hit, and now the world is still talking about Elton John.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road followed such great albums as Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player and Madman Across the Water. John had spent four years of releasing albums building an audience and getting people ready for that one great album that would put him over the top. For many artists, that album never comes. For Elton John, that album is Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. From the memorable cover to the great tunes, this album is the full package.

The conditions surrounding Elton John when he recorded Goodbye Yellow Brick Road were hectic, but they were also located in a place called the Chateau d'Herouville, which was an 18th century chateau in France. So, life was not so bad for our hero. But the pressure on Elton John to deliver a massive hit album was tremendous, and to put his faith in a double album was considered almost career suicide. 

Luckily for the music world, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road turned out to be the hit it needed to be and Elton John became the Elton John we know today. If you have not heard this album yet, then I recommend giving it a listen. This is the work of a great pair of songwriters at a time when they were creating their careers, and it is well worth at least one listen.

Rating: 4 out of 5

George N Root III is a music fan who walks down the Yellow Brick Road on occasion. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or send him a message at georgenroot3@gmail.com.

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