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”

First posted 6/15/2011; updated 3/19/2021.

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 (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, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Billboard magazine called this song “one of the greatest sexual liberation anthems of all time.” BB100 “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.” BR1

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.” CR 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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