When are you gonna come down
When are you going to land
I should have stayed on the farm
I should have listened to my old man

You know you can't hold me forever
I didn't sign up with you
I'm not a present for your friends to open
This boy's too young to be singing the blues

So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can't plant me in your penthouse
I'm going back to my plough
Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I've finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road

What do you think you'll do then
I bet that'll shoot down your plane
It'll take you a couple of vodka and tonics
To set you on your feet again

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


Lyrics submitted by kevin

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road song meanings
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  • +14
    General Comment

    If this was from Bernie to Elton, then I doubt that Elton would have sang it. He's not stupid - why would he sing a song bashing himself???

    No, this is defintely written to the artistic upper-crust. People like Andy Warhol - but not necessarily to Warhol in specific - who surround themselves with famous artists (musical, artistic, etc...) and show them off at parties ("look who MY friend is!") and other social events. Lines like, "I didn't sign up with you," make me think that this was NOT meant for the Record Labels (whom he DID sign up with). Lines like, "I'm not a present for your friends to open," makes me think this is not written about a signifcant other (why would he be shared with others, if he's in a relationship?). Also, if he were in a relationship, would his lover get over being dumped with a couple drinks? Possibly, but coupled with the line about finding a replacement, it makes me think the relationship is a bit less intimate.

    "Where the dogs of society howl," paints a really good picture of someone being surrounded by morally vapid people, just clamouring for a "piece" of the singer.

    The replacements, being mongrels, looking for "tidbits like you," sounds like he's calling the object of the song unimportant. Not someone who made the singer what he is, but someone who gave him simple social spotlight.

    We can wrap this up by taking the main line, "Beyond the Yellow Brick Road." The Yellow Brick Road leads to Oz - a city of pure superficiality. All glittery, but very little substance - the Wizard himself being a metaphor for the life of empty wealth. I kind of see the singer comparing himself to The Wizard, in fact. A country-boy, elevated to prominence, then giving it all up to fly back to that poverty. In other words, "Stop worshipping me! I'm breaking free of this life-style."

    Sir_Larrikinon November 20, 2006   Link
  • +8
    General Comment

    Oh, c'mon people. If you are seriously interested in the intended meaning of a song, you can't just pick and choose some of the lyrics. Look at the line, "I'm not a present for your friends to open". Then the lines, "Maybe you'll get a replacement - there's plenty like me to be found."

    This is a song about one person leaving, or at least threatening to leave, another person. And do you think it might be significant that Bernie T grew up on a farm?

    I don't think that there is any doubt that this was a message from Bernie to Elton. I could speculate as to exactly what he was upset about, but I'm sure it would set off a storm from people who are in denial about Elton's flamboyant lifestyle, But there is little doubt that something happened that Bernie didn't appreciate, and made him start thinking more fondly about the simple life on the family farm. He goes so far as to say, "You know you can't hold me forever - I didn't sign up for you." He's saying, "I'm leaving, and you can't stop me."

    They obviously made up, and Elton set it to music. The rest is history.

    Kmasson January 26, 2013   Link
  • +7
    General Comment

    I have a DVD about the making of this album and I'm sure Bernie said although he couldn't quite remember what he was thinking at the time it's a song about disillusionment, probably about fame and the fact that it's not all it's cracked up to be for a country boy like him. I have sung this song to my daughter from birth as it was the only song I knew all the words to and 2 years later it is the only song that calms her down. Kinda wish I had chosen a more cherry song, but there ya go!

    gerimerrymuffinon April 15, 2010   Link
  • +5

    This song gets me everytime I hear it.

    I had a teenage boyfriend at a time in Highschool. He was not right for me, but I did not know how to let him go, I think we both just wanted to date someone at the time. All the words ring in my ears because I lived on a farm at the time and my father never wanted me to go into town to see him. A bit later my father died and I felt it was the chapter of childhood comming to an end. Reality hit our family and it was brutal and our yellowbrick road was gone. Shoerlty after my fathers death one night at a party at 2am when everyone is weary and going to bed, this song came on, and I made my bf dance with me, and in that moment I knew we were over, and my childhood was over too. Great song...

    "I should have stayed on the farm I should have listened to my old man

    You know you can't hold me forever I didn't sign up with you I'm not a present for your friends to open This boy's too young to be singing the blues"

    GreenEyes1986on February 18, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General Comment

    “I’d always choose someone younger. I wanted to smother them with love. I’d take them around the world, try to educate them. One after another they got a Cartier watch, a Versace outfit, maybe a sports car. They didn’t have jobs. They were reliant on me. I did this repeatedly. In six months they were bored and hated my guts because I’d taken their lives and self-worth away. I hadn’t intended to."

    These are Elton's words.

    As a middle aged gay man I tried to buy the affections of several young lovers. This song breaks my heart now.

    You know you can't hold me forever Speaks to the futility of attraction to youth especially since nobody can stay young forever

    I'm not a present for your friends to open A younger beautiful boyfriend can be like a trophy wife. In a darker sense a sugar baby can get shared around

    You can't plant me in your penthouse I don't want to be kept, bought, trapped in your lonely wealthy world

    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

    This verse really hurts, EJ wrote his young lovers hated him after six months. I feel so much pain and shame when I remember trying to buy poor boys, looking for love, winding up with pain and regret. It's hard to see oneself as a tidbit on the ground, but I guess that's what being a sugar daddy really is like.

    Luke68on December 10, 2015   Link
  • +3
    General Comment

    I think many of the comments are very useful. We all tend to hear loudly those parts of the song that agree with our present interpretation and ignore other parts. Human nature. Start with basics that you can generally count on in music and literature.

    The yellow brick road is the road to fame and fortune, or some other conformist version of success.

    His father does not want him on the yellow brick road, but rather to keep to a simpler life.

    The yellow brick road and someone the author associates with it either wants him to sing the blues or is making him feel like singing the blues and he recognizes that and resists.

    If he leaves the yellow brick road someone associated with that road might get a replacement rather easily and in some ugly fashion (mongrels seeking tidbits on the ground.)

    In the end he wants to go to two places which he makes clear is really one place.

    He wants to back to his plough, and beyond the yellow brick road.

    The key, it seems to me, is to understand thoroughly the historic use of "yellow brick road." The Bible speaks of streets paved with gold. The movie "Wizard of Oz" has a yellow brick road leading to a beautiful city that is based on false ideas and false leadership. It has been theorized that Baum wrote the book to speak about the Gold standard for US currency; Oz being the abbrevation for ounce and the road being yellow, etc.

    So, at it's core, I feel the song is about the writer's discovery of the false values of wealth and fame and the also the discovery of his desire to return to his roots on the farm.

    In as sense, it is about growing up. An old saying, "The older I get, the smarter my dad gets."

    This can be applied to many specific circumstances and since John and Taupin were both heavily involved in the music industry, that would be a likely inspiration for them. Since music is not mentioned, I believe that you could apply it equally well to any profession with a primary goal of wealth or fame.

    fervoron November 25, 2011   Link
  • +3
    Song Meaning

    To understand the song y ou have to know about Bernie Taupin's early years. He was born in 1950 in a small market town in rural Lincolnshire, England. His family then went to live about 25 miles away, and eventually his father bought a small rundown farm in an even more rural part. The family wasn't wealthy and never lived close to what we might think to be a medium large city. Then in 1967, age 17, Bernie teamed up with Elton John, aged 20, to write songs as staff songwriters. Three years later, the pair were writing songs for John to perform, and Elton had an album in the top ten. This song was included on his third album which charted in 1973 when Bernie was 23. He was living a life very different to the one he had seven years earlier.

    This song reflects Bernie's disillusionment with life in London, where even today there are at least ten times as many people as there were in his entire birth county.

    Bernie had found himself uprooted, and thrust into a life that was more likely to have hangers-on and similar living off the aura that surrounds musical stars, and he was still in his teens. As he remembered that his father had worked on the land and had never been rich, he found himself making easy money for doing something that he didn't think was hard work. But at what price?

    The Yellow Brick Road he wrote about is the name commonly given to a path from comparative poverty to riches. People used to say that the streets of London are paved with gold because it was so easy to make money there, and Bernie Taupin was right in the middle of a booming industry making money from songs that he found easy to write.

    But even through his disillusionment, he still could say that his future lay beyond the Yellow Brick Road. In other words, even though he hankered for his childhood life which was not so complicated, with no superficial people sponging off of him, he realized that it was only a step along the way toward something that was not only going to give him even more than he had already, but was much better for him as a person.

    lazarusskyon October 12, 2014   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    This is about someone deciding to leave his or her "sugar-daddy". Know what Im saying?

    esotericsoul23on May 17, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    Of course the title is based on the Wizard of Oz movie. The song however, has to do with Bernie's finding what he wanted and being done with it. He was longing to return to the country and the simple life.

    Favorite line: "It'll take you a couple of vodka and tonics"

    Lord Choc Iceon June 11, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Comment

    My favorite line is the same as Lord Choc Ice. I love the way Elton sings it in his English accent it sounds like (It'll take ya couple of vodker n tonics, to set ya on your feet agaaaain) So when ever I hear the word vodka I always think of Elton sayin Vodker

    lizard_kingon November 04, 2004   Link

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