“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is mainly centered on the narrator (Elton John), requesting for a shift from all the fame, glitz and glamour associated with his career. He wants to move from this to a more simple life where he can truly be fulfilled.
The narrator is saying goodbye to the ‘yellow brick road’ which is a symbol of wealth and fame, because he wants to take back control of his life. He does not want the fame and fortune to define him, and prefers to be back to his farming roots where he can live a more peaceful life.
In the second verse where the writer mentions getting a replacement, it appears that Bernie may have been the one request for a drift from the fame while Elton was not. Thus he asks him to find someone to replace him and write his songs since there are many who would love that opportunity. But if both of them were desiring to give up on fame, then it could probably be that they were saying that it wouldn’t be hard to find a duo to replace them.
Either way, the writer is determined to gain back control of his life even if it means giving up on his fame to settle for a low key life.
More Light on the Meaning of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
The Yellow Brick Road is a fictional location derived from the early 20th century trendsetter “The Wizard of Oz” (1939). It is fundamentally representative of an individual enjoying a more-edifying life, though within the context of this song we can say it points to the ideas of materialism and fame. And such is the high-class, celebrity-like lifestyle the singer is apparently living. So to make a long story short, what he is saying “goodbye” to is that particular aspect of his existence.
Narrator has a slight beef with the addressee
Now the addressee is someone(s) who is compelling him to the contrary. So basically, what the narrator is doing throughout is beefing with the addressee. Throughout the beef, he is asserting that this individual can no longer force him to be part of a class he’s not interested in. Indeed the second verse reads as if the addressee has a personal stake in keeping the singer on the “Yellow Brick Road”. Thus many fans have interpreted this track as being indicative of the artist’s, particularly Bernie Taupin’s, desire to leave the music industry. Or stated differently, if he actually did take such an action many people who are dependent on his skills would likewise be affected.
Is the narrator really Bernie Taupin?
But more to the overall point of the song, what the singer actually prefers as opposed to the “Yellow Brick Road” is being back on the farm – toiling for his bread and enjoying a simpler life. This is yet further evidence that Bernie Taupin is in fact the subject of this tune. And why? Because in addition to being perceived in real life as more modest than Elton, he also actually grew up on a farm.
All in all…
Whether this track is a reflection of Mr. Taupin’s own mood at the time is ultimately irrelevant. For generally speaking, it is based on a rather-simple narrative which practically anyone can empathize with. The singer is fed up with an extravagant lifestyle, largely due to part the deal being his exploitation by others. And on top of that, he remembers the simplicity of how life was in a rural setting before he blew up. And returning back to that type of livelihood has a special appeal to him in light of what he is currently enduring.
Facts about “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
The music for this song was written by Elton John and the lyrics by Bernie Taupin. And the track’s producer is Gus Dudgeon.
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” was recorded at the famous Strawberry Studios in France.
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is the title track from one of the albums Elton John dropped in 1973. It was released by MCA Records and DJM Records as the second single from that project on 5 October 1973.
This is one of Elton John’s favorites amongst critics.
The song was certified Platinum in the United States on 13 September 1995.
Moreover this track earned the distinction of being placed at number 390 on Rolling Stone’s 2011 ranking of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
The titular “Yellow Brick Road” is a reference to the classic 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz”.
Elton John performed this song as a duet alongside American music icon Billy Joel in 2000 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. This rendition is featured on the DVD edition of Elton’s album “Elton John One Night Only – The Greatest Hits”.
Elton John dubbed what he intends to be his final tour, which began in September 2018, the “Farewell Yellow Brick Road”.
Elton John finally got around to putting on a show in Vermont, after already performing in all of the other 49 American states, on 21 July 2008. And to commemorate the event, ice-cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s released a limited-edition flavor, only available in Vermont, named “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”.
This track also makes a couple of appearances on Elton John’s 2019 biopic entitled “Rocketman”.
The “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” Album
Sir Elton Hercules John (born with the name Reginald Kenneth Dwight) released “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” as a double LP making it his seventh studio album. The album has sold over 30 million copies around the globe.
It contains songs belonging to the following genres:
- Pop Rock
- Glam rock
The album’s production was made possible thanks to the late English record producer Angus Boyd “Gus” Dudgeon.
All the tracks on the album were composed by John and English lyricist Bernard John Taupin (known for his long-term collaboration with John).
These were the singles that came out of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”:
- “Saturday’s Night’s Alright for Fighting”
- “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
- “Beenie and the Jets”
- “Candle in the Wind”
I always thought the song was about a young boy groomed by a rich gay man for sex.
I did too!
I still think that’s what it’s about.
Living gay in the 1970s was a nightmare to begin with and then add the drama of any relationship… Thank goodness most of us are over that bigotry.
Anyone with ears and a slight imagination, knows it’s about young guys sold and tossed around for sex..
I see it as Bernie writing the song to Elton. At the beginning he asks when are you going to come down when are you going to land” as Elton got more and more famous he started getting arrogant and doing drugs and drinking and Bernie can’t take it anymore he wants to go back home to his farm. He tells Elton he shouldn’t have a problem finding another writer (a replacement)there are plenty that are looking for someone like him to sing their songs. (Sounds like Bernie doesn’t think he’s very important anymore and may as well leave because it wouldn’t make a difference) Elton would have a couple drinks then move on and replace Bernie who is sick of that life would rather be on a farm than in a penthouse. Then there’s the part about “I didn’t sign on for you” meaning he isn’t even working with the same person as he started with, Elton has changed so much that he can’t even recognize him anymore, he signed on with the old Elton his friend and partner not this guy he is now. ??♀️
So you think Elton John sang a song written about himself being a schmuck. Unlikely.
It’s still a morally wrong and disgusting lifestyle choice and should be banned.
I did also. Now I have to bite the bullet and tell my husband that he was right and I was wrong. The meaning of the song is simple goodbye to faaàqaame and fortune and money and luxuries and Hello Fàrm Life. Green Acres’ Here I Come. PEACE QUIET. SERENITY. TRANQUILITY. SILENCE. Silent Lucidity.
Yellow is a symbolic color of sickness as in jaundice. A yellow brick road symbolizes a toxic choice journey or life path. This song is about taking one’s power back to steer the journey in a different direction. In “O,” the yellow road led to a world where people are small victims to powerful frauds, who trap them and control them with money. The narrator makes a choice to change his destiny.
That interpretation is quite a stretch.
Listen to Angelina Jordan sing it!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, she does a wonderful version of this song.
Sara Bareilles before Angelina Jordan..
agreed! listening to her right now
Queens of the Stone Age version is amazing
It is one of the greatest songs written. Its writer’s ache to return home, finding fame is not at all what he wanted. It seems that the writer was okay when it was simple, but when it got out of control he was disgusted by what he found.
Look up the Foxes and Fossils cover vid on YouTube. Sara’s version is great, but I think F&F version is best.
Just heard the F&F version. I think it’s absolutely the best cover!
The F&F version is nice, but the vocals are lacking the dynamics and passion that Sara puts into it.
I personally think we may be reading too much into it. Bernie wrote it, as most songwriters do, based on feelings, thoughts, and regrets he was having at the time. The verse with “when are you going to come down, when are you going to land” is derived from Bernie feeling that at some point the fame and fortune would end. Further, “going back to the farm, and listening to my old man” were clearly references to Taupin’s younger life. We need to remember the Elton and Bernie never wrote together in the same location, so this being strictly about John, his behaviors, and sexual relationships is a bit of a stretch. I think it is much more about Bernie trying to square his choice to leave the rural agricultural life, with its limited opportunities in favor of the meteoric success that they were enjoying. He wondered openly if it would continue and if he should make a lifestyle change before it stopped.
It’s obviously about a metaphor about young, poor boy who left home to follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City aka fake and wealth. On the way he found a rich benefactor who showed him off as arm candy but had no intention of helping him actually realize his goals and dreams. The young man realizes a life of fame and riches and parties with the elite isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. He’s lamenting he’s going to go home and live life farming and hunting and his benefactor will likely replace him with another beautiful boy with stars in his eyes. Only after his benefactor drinks himself into a drunken stupor so he can deal with his own life on the yellow brick road.
Yellow Brick Road is in OZ, Bernie grew up in Australia, commonly referred to as OZ. Therefore, the reference to the Yellow Brick Road may have more than one meaning.
Bernie Taupin grew up in Lincolnshire, England.
i thought this was dedicated to his manager (it kinda was)
If you watch the movie, this song tells it all.. it’s Bernie wanting to leave and take Elton with him. Just get back to his country roots. Beautiful song. It has Bernie written all over it.
Sara Barielles so amazing