Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
Candle In The Wind
Bennie And The Jets
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
This Song Has No Title
Jamaica Jerk Off
I've Seen That Movie Too
Sweet Painted Lady
The Ballad Of Danny Bailey (1909-34)
Dirty Little Girl
All The Girls Love Alice
Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting
Under the working titles of Vodka and Tonics and Silent Movies, Talking Pictures, Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics in two and a half weeks, with John composing most of the music in three days while staying at the Pink Flamingo Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica. He had wanted to go to Jamaica he has said, in part, because the Rolling Stones had just recorded Goats Head Soup there. Production on the album was started in Jamaica in January 1973, though after difficulties with the sound system and the studio piano, coupled with disturbance due to the Joe Frazier and George Foreman boxing match taking place in Kingston, and violent political tension due to the poor economic situation, the band decided to move before any productive work was done. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was recorded in two weeks at the Château d'Hérouville in France, where John had previously recorded Honky Château and Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player. Only a version of "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" was recorded in Jamaica, but that recording was discarded and the final, released version of the song came from the sessions at the château.
According to the album's producer, Gus Dudgeon, the album was not planned as a two-record collection. In total, John and Taupin composed 22 tracks for the album, of which 18 (if one includes both "Funeral for a Friend" and "Love Lies Bleeding") were used, enough that it was released as a double album, John's first (three more such albums followed up to 2011). The songs, mostly around the theme of nostalgia for a more humble childhood and an older American culture as seen through eyes of the movies, included "Bennie and the Jets", "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting", using memories of a Market Rasen pub Taupin frequented when younger, the 11-minute "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding", and the Marilyn Monroe tribute, "Candle in the Wind". "Grey Seal" was previously the B-side of the 1970 single, "Rock n' Roll Madonna", and was re-recorded for the album.
"Harmony", the album's final track, was considered as a fourth single, but was not issued at the time because the chart longevity of the album and its singles brought it too close to the upcoming releases of Caribou and its proposed accompanying singles. It was, however, used as the B-side of the American release of the "Bennie and the Jets" single, and was popular on FM playlists of the day, especially WBZ-FM in Boston, whose top 40 chart allowed for the inclusion ofLP cuts and B-sides as voted for by listeners. "Harmony" spent three weeks at No. 1 on WBZ-FM's chart in June 1974 and ranked No. 6 for the year, with "Bennie and the Jets" at No. 1 and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" behind "Harmony" at No. 7. "Harmony" was released as a single in Britain in 1980 and failed to chart, but has emerged as a fan favourite. John has been known to play it live on occasions.