The Yellow Brick Road is an illustration known from the film The Wizard of Oz. In the film, Dorothy and her companions follow the yellow brick road in quest of the magical Wizard of Oz, just to discover they had whatever they were looking for from the beginning. The rumor was that the song was about Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in the film.
Elton and his songwriting companion Bernie Taupin traveled to Jamaica to record the LP, but the studio was not good enough, so the project was forsaken there with just an imperfect version of “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)” truly being recorded. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and the rest were recorded in France at Strawberry Studios (The Chateau d’Hierouville).
Talking about the song, Taupin said:
“It’s funny, but there are songs that I recall writing as if it was yesterday. And then there are those I have absolutely no recollection of, whatsoever. In fact, I’d have to say that for the most part, if someone was to say that the entire Yellow Brick Road album was actually written by someone else, I might be inclined to believe them. I remember being there, just not physically creating.
There was a period when I was going through that whole ‘got to get back to my roots’ thing, which spawned a lot of like-minded songs in the early days, this being one of them. I don’t believe I was ever turning my back on success or saying I didn’t want it. I just don’t believe I was ever that naïve. I think I was just hoping that maybe there was a happy medium way to exist successfully in a more tranquil setting. My only naiveté, I guess, was believing I could do it so early on. I had to travel a long road and visit the school of hard knocks before I could come even close to achieving that goal. So, thank God I can say quite categorically that I am home.”
Bernie Taupin penned the lyrics of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. He often appears to compose about Elton, but this one seems to be around himself. The lyrics are about ceasing a life of luxuriousness for one of integrity in a rustic environment. Elton has relished a very exorbitant lifestyle, while Taupin values to retain a low key life.