Here’s another 1973 album I recently revisited on the blog, after the film Rocketman sent me down an Elton John rabbit hole.
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road ended a run of six excellent and highly successful albums, all released before John was out of his mid-20s. Few artists have pulled off a streak like that (next week, I’ll write about another who pulled it off).
Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road landed seven songs on my personal playlist, including yesterday’s SOTD (‘Grey Seal’) and the expected hits: ‘Candle in the Wind,’ ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,’ ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’ and ‘Harmony.’
The final track to make the cut was entirely new to me. ‘Sweet Painted Lady’ is a whimsical tune about prostitutes who sleep with sailors on shore leave.
In 1973, Elton John released the double album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and capped off one of the most extraordinary runs in popular music history.
Six albums (one of them a double record) recorded and released over the course of four years, featuring some of the most beloved songs ever written. Twenty-seven of the 37 songs on my personal Elton John playlist come from those four years, his first four as a recording artist.
The other day I made an unlikely comparison between Jimmy Buffett and Elton John. Both artists, I argued, have put out a dozen or more excellent songs — songs that endure after decades and are among the most moving ever committed to record — but both have also released so many albums over the years that the majority of their work is completely foreign to me.
Can it be that all of those unheard albums are filled with songs just as good as ‘Tiny Dancer,’ ‘Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters,’ ‘Come Monday, ‘Margaritaville’ and the rest of the classics? Or did these guys strike gold once or twice per album and I’m better off just knowing the hits?
Probably somewhere in between.