I had real trouble with this album. After listening to Blue Lines heavily in the previous week (which was then supplemented by Air’s Virgin Suicides soundtrack) I had a real reluctance to go back in time again to something unknown. I even had an album in mind for this week’s entry… but I’m going to sit on that for a little longer since it is precariously perched at the end of this list.
Something that did not help with getting into Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was the sprawling opening track that just bored me silly. By the time it was over and the familiar piano of ‘Candle In The Wind’ started to play I was done with this and was ready to bring in Joanna Newsom to tide me over for another week.
A few days later I decided it was time to give Goodbye Yellow Brick Road another go and started at track two so I would not be coloured again by ‘Funeral For A Friend (Love Lies Bleeding)’. Instinctively I have given the original version of ‘Candle In The Wind’ a wide berth due to the mass hysteria that the re-tooling was able to tap into. The fact is, that this song was never really about Diana, or even about Marilyn Monroe, but about how we have a tendency to revere those who die young. There’s a barb to it… which actually makes it interesting that this became the song of mass mourning. With the barb intact it’s actually a good song.
The rest of the album follows on well there, but it does peak two tracks later with the title track ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’. The falsetto chorus is just so amazing that it is a shame he can’t perform it properly anymore. I struggled for a while to remember where I had heard this recently, and then it hit me… American Hustle. It’s one of those songs that hits you immediately with it’s production and how generally great it is. I had that moment when listening to ‘The Boxer’ not too long ago. This is a song that has just stuck with me.
In terms of highlights you really just need to look at the singles. ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’ and ‘Bennie and the Jets’ are songs that most people will know from life… even if it is from places like Futurama or The Vicar of Dibley. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was the real launch of Elton John’s career and where the sphere of his influence started. I mean listening to this I kept being reminded of people like the Scissor Sisters who came later. I wonder where this Elton John went…