Elton John‘s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road‘ has been reissued before — most recently for its 30th anniversary in 2003 — but John’s vaults still hold a few ‘Yellow Brick’ surprises for fans.
The record will return to stores on March 25 with a bunch of new bonus material to belatedly mark the 40th anniversary of its release. As tends to be the case these days, fans will have their choice of configurations, with everything from a standard CD to a massive box and yellow vinyl to pick from. As yet another tribute to the chart-topping album’s importance, an array of younger artists, including Ed Sheeran and the Zac Brown Band, have recorded their own versions of the classic songs.
John and his longtime songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin looked back on the sessions for ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ during a recent interview with Rolling Stone, with John recalling that the album represented a long-overdue shift away from using session players in the studio. “I do think the band was a little wounded since they weren’t on ‘The Tumbleweed Connection’ or ‘Madman Across the Water,” he mused. “It was important to me that they play on ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.’”
After a brief attempt to record at the same Jamaican studio where the Rolling Stones had tracked ‘Goats Head Soup,’ John returned to the French locale where he’d recorded ‘Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player’ and ‘Honky Chateau.’ It was there that they settled into the deep creative groove that ultimately led to ‘Yellow Brick Road’ turning into a double-LP set, with John and Taupin collaborating on a quickly written set of solid songs that drew confidently across a broad musical spectrum.
“There was a piano in the corner of the dining room and there was a long communal table where all the guys used to sit and eat breakfast,” Taupin told Rolling Stone. “Elton would come up with a tune during breakfast. I’d write my songs longhand. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have a typewriter. One of the few things I remember very clearly, and this is easy to visualize now, is sitting on the side of my bed with a notepad, just writing. I’d just write stream-of-conscious lyrics.”
“It was a very exciting time in my life,” John reflected during the wide-ranging interview, which is definitely worth a complete read for fans. “It was a time that we had no fear, nothing was beyond us. It’s a wonderful thing the young have when they get on a roll. We were running on momentum and adrenaline. And then if you’re a talented enough artist, you find your place within the playing field. And this was our example of being at the height of our creative powers.”