Roundabout" is a song by the English progressive rock band Yes. It is the first single released from their fourth studio album, Fragile (1971). "Roundabout" has become one of the best-known songs by Yes. The song was shortened and released as a single with the track "Long Distance Runaround", followed by a live version recorded and released in January 1972. It peaked at number 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Lyrics and meaningEdit
Written by singer Jon Anderson and guitarist Steve Howe during The Yes Album Tour, the lyrics are obscure, and have been the subject of debate on music discussion sites.
The song begins with an acoustic guitar solo in E Minor from Steve Howe. This lasts for about 40 seconds. Thereafter, Chris Squire's bass enters along with Bill Bruford's drums. Howe continues his guitar part in octaves, leading up to Anderson's entrance and the first verse. The first two verses continue in this manner. The bridge ("In and around the lake...") starts after the second verse. Anderson and Howe continue their parts. The keyboard enters thereafter before Squire and Bruford. A vocal harmony from Anderson, Howe, and Squire tops off the bridge.
The third verse starts with the first theme and the bridge is repeated with the second. After the second bridge a third theme begins. The vocal harmony established in the bridge continues. The acoustic guitar intro repeats, but with the addition of the intricate keyboard part. Thereafter, an electric guitar solo from Howe accompanied by the keyboards occurs. The theme is the same as the bridge. The song ends with a repetition of the first verse and bridge. The outro goes back to the key of E Major with another acoustic guitar solo from Howe in a similar fashion to the original intro.
While most of the song is in a simple 4/4, the choruses are in 14/4 and the ending vocal segment 7/4.
An edited version was released as a single in 1972, with the track "Long Distance Runaround" on the B-side. It peaked at number 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and reached number 23 on the Dutch Top 40. The full-length, album version was used a B-side in 1973 and a live version was released as a bonus single in copies of Classic Yes in 1981.
"Roundabout" has become one of the best-known songs by Yes; it has been performed at every concert since November 1971. "Roundabout" was used in the 1999 film Outside Providence. In 2003, on the DVD commentary of School of Rock, actor Jack Black states that Wakeman's solo is his personal favourite keyboard solo. "Roundabout" is a playable track in the music game Rock Band 3. In 2012, "Roundabout" was used as the ending theme song for the television anime series JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.