What can I say. I haven’t written a blog in over a year and it took the surge of emotion from Saturday Night’s Elton John performance to get me to the keyboard. My head is still reeling and spinning from what I can comfortably say was one of the best show experiences of my life.
In 1973 when I was a sophomore in high school I heard a single on the radio. The name of it was Daniel, by a relatively new artist named Elton John. I had never heard of him but it was all I could do to get to a record store and buy that single. Then if those of you from my generation remember old record players, if you left the “arm” up, the song would just repeat itself for as many times as you let it. Well, I let it. And let it. And let it.
In November of 1974 after promising my first born child to my mother after having been grounded, she let me go to the concert that I had been waiting for all year. (She reminded me of it the day my first child actually WAS born 14 years later). And that concert is a memory forever and indelibly printed in my mind. I was not just obsessed, I was possessed, over the moon and out of my brain over this man and his music.
This past Saturday night marked 45 years since the first time I saw him. I’ve been to an estimated 15-20 of his concerts over the years, most notably his Red Piano Show at Caesar’s Palace but there was something about this one that was extra special. It was his Farewell Yellow Brick Road concert, touring the world one last time.
I’ve been through a lot in 45 years. I’ve lost many loved ones, survived cancer twice – loved and lost more times than I could count (back before marriage!) and just have miles and miles of life that have passed by ever so quickly. I’ve raised a family and through it all, I’ve had his music.
Like many other people from my generation, I particularly have always favored his older music which was evident at the show as he performed most songs from the 1970’s. The beauty of it was that every single tune has withstood the test of time and have never grown stale or old. I get as much of a thrill now listening to any of them as I did 45 years ago.
What is most amazing to me is how much energy and passion he still puts into performing. Sure, in the early years in his huge glasses (he was once referred to as “The Myopic Master of the Spectacle”) and jumpsuits/platform shoes he jumped on his piano and covered the whole stage. Now, he sits in of course a sparkly jacket, at his beloved piano and just sings with all of his heart. No antics, just that voice.
When the concert ended and I had taken my trip down memory lane with every song – driving to The university of Illinois with friends while all singing Levon or watching my brother play Funeral for a Friend at his very first piano recital, I found myself crying. This was the last time he would ever play in Chicago.
In life we are so worried about having “things” and not “experiences”. Music is something that no matter what, is an experience and builds memories that things cannot. The experiences I have had and remember through his music can never be taken away. He has enriched my life with that gift.
Now, I need to find a ticket to the postponed Milwaukee show……
The above Youtube video was recorded in Turkey at the Ephesus on July 17, 2001. This version of Rocket Man, in my humble opinion is the greatest rendition of the song ever recorded and shows not only his incredible talent, but his continued passion for his work. Watch it, you won’t believe it.