On Nov. 10, 1973, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road began an eight-week reign at the top of the US album charts. The double album received many negative reviews. Part of the backlash may have come from a cultural shift — writing about Elton John’s persona had become more popular than writing about his music.
Some critics complained that the album’s songs crossed too many genres and seemed like a hodgepodge dumped into slick packaging. Musically the LP was all over the place, opening with progressive rock sonics and then weaving its way through ballads and pop, even reggae and country and western. In many ways, it was full-on glam and fans loved it. The album remains one of his most popular works to date.
Much like Lennon and McCartney from 1966 to 1968, John and lyricist Bernie Taupin were in a high period of creativity, generating songs, good songs, in numbers like never before.
The LP contained three hit singles. “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” had been released in the summer, the title track was released in mid-October (ten days after the album), and “Bennie and the Jets” would be released in February.
My favorite song, “Harmony,” closed the album. It’s a slow song with a pop-blues feel and beautiful vocal arrangements. The song garnered radio play from album-oriented radio stations (AOR) throughout the winter, which led to talk of the song being released as a fourth single from the album. But the John-Taupin machine was in high gear. John’s next album, Caribou, was recorded in January and scheduled for a summer release. MCA Records sales and marketing already had plans to release “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” as the single in May of ’74 to promote the new album. They didn’t want a fourth single to interfere with their schedule.
So “Harmony” was added as the B-side to”Bennie and the Jets.”