Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Savoring the musician who created my life's soundtrack

Photo of Elton John in Reno concert taken by friend Stewart's i-phone
I've just returned from my annual (almost 20 years!) visit to Lake Tahoe, visiting friends. Our hosts, a friend I've known since 1st Grade and his lovely wife, are incredibly generous, and this year surprised us with tickets to see Elton John in concert in Reno. And not just "tickets", but tickets ON THE FLOOR, on the 12th ROW! (Do you know how close that is??! I could actually see Elton's cute pudgy face!)

Surprisingly, I was the only one out of the 5 of us who had ever seen Elton in concert . . . and this makes my 4th one! All have been different, and all special in their own way. But the constant is how I (along with all the other thousandas of people in the audience) know almost every word to all the songs (except the new ones sprinkled in, which soon become "old favorites"), and how each song brings back specific memories of time and place. Sir Elton's music popped onto our radios in 1970, and his hit singles remained there throughout my high school and college years. I listened to all his albums throughout that decade, and studied and caressed their artful covers.

I now live in the same building that houses one of his many homes, and I've not only had the honor of meeting him, but used the photograph of us from that occasion to create a Christmas card   ("NOELton") that many of my friends still keep on their refridgerator all these years later. I have ridden in the elevator, both up AND down, with him, and it was only my shyness (and his) which kept me from blurting out to him "I LOVE YOUR MUSIC! YOU CREATED THE MUSICAL BACKDROP OF MY YOUTH!!!!"  (Instead I nodded hello, he politely nodded back, and we assended/descended in silence.)

The Reno concert, high energy though it was, seemed less out of control than the two I saw at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta (more like the one I saw at the Lakewood Ampitheater, when it rained). Perhaps that is because most of the fans, like me, are older, and no longer have an enexhaustable supply of energy to expend. Or maybe it's because Sir Elton is older, and no longer jumps up on the piano or leaps about the stage with the hyper-energy he displayed when HE was a younger man. (We've aged together, Elton and I.) But he still had the energy (or the professionalism) to perform for 3 hours with NO intermission WITH BRONCHITIS!  And perform amazingly. (It is only seeing him perform live that one realizes what a talented pianist he is.) How he was able to get a voice he could barely speak with to do the vocal acrobatics he engaged in that evening was something that had me shaking my head with every other song.

So, I thank my hosts; I thank their friend who got the tickets from a gambling friend of his; I thank the dear four people who were there with me that night to enjoy the evening (especially the two of them who are also part of my high school and college memories); and finally, I thank Sir Elton John, for not only his talent , for not only this particular performance, but for being a survivor (like me.)  I'm glad your are still part of the soundtrack of my life.

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