Saturday, September 29, 1973

Elton John charted with “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Elton John

Writer(s): Elton John (music), Bernie Taupin (lyrics) (see lyrics here)

Released: September 7, 1973

First Charted: September 29, 1973

Peak: 2 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 13 RR, 7 AC, 1 CL, 6 UK, 11 CN, 4 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.2 UK, 2.2 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 4.0 radio, 50.73 video, 140.99 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

The title cut for Elton John’s seventh album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, was released as the second single after “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” While “Saturday” peaked at #12, “Road” went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the charts on three of the other major pop charts in America at the time.

The song was a top singles pick in the October 20, 1973 issue of Billboard which said, “Elton returns to a medium tempo for his large, round sounding production of a man returning to a simple life. At times it’s hard to understand Elton, but the sonic impression is still strong and haunting. The blending of voices with strings on the bridges is beautiful.” BB

Circus magazine’s Janis Schach called the song “delicate and beautiful.” WK All Music Guide’s Stewart Mason has called it “a strong contender for the coveted title of John’s finest song ever.” AMG “Extravagant, but not pretentious,” AMG the “arrangement builds slowly…to a full orchestral climax at the end of each chorus.” AMG “The wordless melisma that decorates the bridge between the verse and chorus melodies is straight out of the Beach Boys playbook.” AMG “It’s very likely his single finest vocal moment.” AMG

The title is a reference to The Wizard of Oz and the yellow brick road. Bernie Taupin, who wrote the lyrics, often wrote about Elton, but this song “about giving up a life of opulence for one of simplicity in a rural setting” SF appears to be more about Taupin as John “has enjoyed a very extravagant lifestyle.” SF Taupin said, “I was going through that whole ‘got to get back to my roots’ thing…I don’t believe I was ever turning my back on success…I think I was just hoping that maybe there was a happy medum way to exist successfully in a more tranquil setting.” SF It is also “evocative of faded Hollywood glamour;” AMG “a clear-eyed, somewhat bitter, but not vindictive kiss-off to a wealthy former paramour.” AMG

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First posted 4/12/2021.

Saturday, September 8, 1973

Marvin Gaye hit #1 with “Let’s Get It On”

Let’s Get It On

Marvin Gaye

Writer(s): Marvin Gaye, Ed Townsend (see lyrics here)

First Charted: June 15, 1973

Peak: 12 US, 11 CB, 12 HR, 4 RR, 16 RB, 31 UK, 6 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.4 UK, 3.4 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 189.5 video, 240.22 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Billboard magazine called this song “one of the greatest sexual liberation anthems of all time.” BB “The unabashedly erotic ‘Let’s Get It On’” RH topped the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts in the U.S., but is often overshadowed by his definitive version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and his politically poignant “What’s Going On.” When it comes to sensuality and sexual explicitness, “Sexual Healing” steals some of the thunder from “Let’s Get It On” because it marked a comeback for Gaye before he was tragically shot by his father.

Ed Townsend, Gaye’s co-writer on the song, had originally conceived it with a religious theme. WK It then became a political song before evolving into what Rolling Stone called “a masterpiece of erotic persuasion.” RS500 In the liner notes for the parent album, Gaye said, “I can’t see anything wrong with sex between consenting anybodies. I think we make far too much of it.” FB

An acquaintance of Gaye’s brought Janis Hunter to the recording session and, according to writer Ben Edmonds, she “compelled him to perform the song to her, and in so doing, it was transformed into the masterpiece of raw emotion we know so well.” TC Gaye married her after his divorce from his first wife.

The song features prominently in the movie High Fidelity. John Cusack’s character runs a record store, giving him access to more obscure music than the general population. Nonetheless, he and his girlfriend proclaim the widely popular “Let’s Get It On” as their song. When Cusack hosts a party at the movie’s conclusion, he is understandably nervous about letting co-worker Jack Black perform, convinced he’ll offend everyone. After all, Black doesn’t hold back in his opinions, such as the famous scene in which he mercilessly berates a customer for asking for Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” Instead, Black surprises Cusack with a soulful version of “Let’s Get It On,” proving that even the most cynical music fans can’t deny what Gaye called the “aphrodisiac power” RS500 of the song.


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First posted 6/15/2011; last updated 10/28/2022.

Saturday, September 1, 1973

50 years ago: “Yes! We Have No Bananas” hit #1

Yes! We Have No Bananas

Billy Jones

Writer(s): Frank Silver, Irving Cohn (see lyrics here)

First Charted: July 21, 1923

Peak: 12 GA, 15 US (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.43 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Frank Silver and Irving Cohn wrote this “classic comic novelty song” JA and published it on March 23, 1923. Silver explained that when his orchestra was playing at a hotel in Long Island, he would stop at a fruit stand owned by a Greek who began every sentence with “Yes.” As Silver said, “The jingle of his idiom haunted me…Finally, I wrote this verse and Cohn fitted it with a tune.” WK

It has been suggested that the fruit seller may not have had bananas to sell because of an outbreak of Panama disease, which wiped out much of the banana crop at the time. GR The song re-emerged in 1932 as a rallying cry in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the Outdoor Relief Protests, a movement “dedicated to securing social security and welfare benefits.” GR The song title was often displayed in UK fruit shops during World War II because of rations and bans. GR

The song was introduced by Eddie Cantor in the revue Make It Snappy. The song has said to have borrowed from other tunes, including Handel’s Messiah. TY

Five versions of “Yes! We Have No Bananas” charted in 1923 – Billy Jones (#1), Ben Selvin’s Orchestra featuring Irving Kaufman (#1), the Great White Way Orchestra featuring Billy Murray (#3), Benny Krueger (#8), and Sam Lanin (#15). Jones’ version was the first and most successful; he also lent his vocals to the version by Krueger’s orchestra. WK Spike Jones & His City Slickers revived the song in 1950.


First posted 11/20/2022.