Writer(s): Jon Anderson, Steve Howe (see lyrics here)
Released: January 4, 1972
First Charted: February 5, 1972
Peak: 13 US, 10 CB, 11 HR, 1 CL, 9 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 14.9 video, 81.78 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Yes singer Jon Anderson and guitarist Steve Howe wrote “Roundabout” while the band was on tour promoting 1971’s The Yes Album. While traveling from Aberdeen to Glasgow, Scotland, they encounterd numerous roundabouts which inspired the pair to write a song about their journey while sitting in the band of the band’s transit van. WK
Anderson’s free-form, abstract lyrics “describe a psychedelic country life, with allusions to driving.” SF He described the mountains “coming out of the sky.” WK As he explained, “it was a cloudy day; we couldn’t see the top of the mountains. We could only see the clouds because it was sheer straight up.” WK According to Anderson, “everything was vivid and mystical” because he’d smoke marijuana during the trip. WK
Originally the song started off with acoustic guitar, but the group thought they needed a more dramatic opening. New keyboardist Rick Wakeman played “a note on the piano that was recorded and played backwards,” WK which Howe thought “added a sense of drama, intensity, and colour to the song.” WK
The parent album Fragile, represented when “Yes began to pattern their progressive rock song, with longer instrumental passages, firmer bass guitar work from Chris Squire, and the implementation of rather profound if not abstract lyrics. ‘Roundabout’ embellished all these qualities.” AMG The album version ran eight and a half minutes, but five minutes were trimmed for the single. It was the band’s most popular song until 1983’s #1 hit “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” Yes have played the song at nearly every concert since its release. WK Anderson and Howe won a BMI Award for the song.
First posted 8/5/2021; last updated 7/22/2022.