Thursday, May 24, 2012

Songs 199 and 200 - It's Thursday but I'm Posting Like It's TWOsday!

Song #199 of 9999                                                  Song #200 of 9999

Title: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road                           Title: Time
Artist: Elton John                                                     Artist: Pink Floyd
Year: 1973                                                               Year: 1973
Album: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road                        Album: Dark Side of the Moon

I thought I would have some fun featuring two songs loosely associated with the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. In 1973, British glam rocker Elton John and British psychedelic rockers Pink Floyd released records that would elevate them to superstar status and drastically change their musical directions for all time. John released three very popular singles from his record, including "Candle in the Wind," a song that would make him very popular among the soft-rock crowd and soon thereafter he would shed most of the glam from his character and replace it with silly glasses and duck suits while singing "Daniel" and "Your Song." Pink Floyd weathered the departure of former member and resident loon Syd Barrett by producing the most cohesive and stirring concept album the world had seen, setting a bar they would never reach again despite coming damn close so many times.

"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" bares its connection to The Wizard of Oz right there in the title. Long-time lyricist Bernie Taupin uses the "yellow brick road" as a metaphor for high society and material success, which his protagonist eschews in favor of a simple life of the farm or the woods. What lies beneath the surface of the lyric is more intriguing; the second verse is laced with vitriol as John sings "Maybe you'll get a replacement/There's plenty like me to be found/Mongrels who ain't got a penny/Sniffing for tidbits like you on the ground." All of this is sung with a level of grandeur rarely found in pop. John's angular vocal soars, covering nearly two octaves, while a complex chord progression meanders and coalesces beneath. It's one of the most impressive vocal tracks in pop history.

The connection between Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz  is a bit more tenuous. Sometime around 1994, rumors began spreading about a "synchronicity" that occurs when you play Pink Floyd's record as the soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz. The phenomenon is sometimes referred to as "Dark Side of the Rainbow" and, I admit, it is pretty interesting and fun to watch. (Instructions can easily be found on the Internet.) Everyone associated with the record, including band members and producer Alan Parsons, has repeatedly denied any intentional connection between the two works, but true believers cannot be swayed by the word of the creators! Anyway, the entire album is great and meant to be enjoyed as a whole, but "Time" stands pretty nicely on its own. Worth listening to for David Gilmour's guitar work alone.


  1. Love both these songs.

    I hate to be nit-picky, but when Pink Floyd were making "Dark Side of the Moon" they weren't weathering the death of Syd Barrett. He died in 2006, 33 years after Dark Side came out.

    Indeed, Syd did leave under acrimonious circumstances, and it is something that they both moved on from and lamented, as on the follow-up to Dark Side "Wish You Were Here". During the making of said LP, Syd made a random appearance in the studio and wanted to lay down some guitar work, but no-one knew who he was. When they finally worked it out, they were shell-shocked...

    Thanks for the post, FBF.

  2. Oops! I thought he died after leaving the band. Embarrassed. I will edit the post but lead these comments as proof of my temporary ineptitude.