Madison Square Gardens. Check.

One word

PHENOMENAL.

Stream of consciousness

Visually stunning. Ray is a beast. EJ and the Band were awesome. Daniel made me cry. Moving piano (Wow). Confetti.

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I’ve been privileged to see Sir Elton live more than 50 times, but I’ve always wanted to see him play at Madison Square Gardens. When he announced the Farewell Tour, I figured it was now or never.  And I’m thrilled that I did.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he calls it his “favorite venue in the whole wide world” to play. And I was able to share the experience with two of my favorite Eltonites in the whole wide world: My sister Lisa (who I’ve dragged out to so many of his concerts) and Miquel Sala (who I was able to meet for the very first time).

Lisa and I arrived an hour and a half early (of course!) and talked to many excited fans (from NY and across the country). I got many compliments on my new sparkly jacket, too.

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When you walk in, the stage is immense and so so impressive. Kind of a cross between his regular concerts and the Million Dollar Piano Show. I knew this was going to be different.

And different it was! But the music and the non-stop intensity of his performance were amazing as always.

The biggest difference was, of course, the visuals. The videos and vignettes that played on the huge screen were beautiful, nostalgic, fun and even heartbreaking. (Daniel is all I need to say there). So much so that they were almost distracting.

Elton talked a bit more than he normally does during his concerts, which I loved. He explained how thrilled he was to learn that Aretha Franklin had covered “Border Song,” he dedicated “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” to Bernie, and he talked about his sobriety and regretting not being on the forefront of battling AIDS.

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There were a couple of moments in the show that he actually looked tired, something I don’t remember seeing before.  One time, he finished a song and hung his head at the piano bench for a while (to take a breather, I think).  Another time, I saw him mouth “whew” after a song.  But this is not a complaint. It’s more of an observation that he’s still doing this, giving it his all, after more than 50 years. He could just be phoning it in, but he doesn’t. Ever. And I firmly believe that he is doing this for us – his fans – and he doesn’t owe us anything.

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I sincerely hope that you get a chance to see the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. If you’ve never seen him before, it should be a bucket list item for you. And, if you have seen him play live, what a wonderful way to put an “!” on that part of your concert-going life.

Earlier this year, I described my dream set list for this tour. So how did I do? I think the set list turned out as expected – there were no real surprises (well, maybe Border Song). Regardless, it was still PHENOMENAL.  (And if you don’t believe me, check out this review of the October 18th concert).

  1. Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding
  2. Bennie and the Jets
  3. Rocket Man
  4. Made in England
  5. Rock and Roll Madonna
  6. Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
  7. Amoreena
  8. Club at the End of the Street
  9. Burn Down the Mission
  10. Blues for Baby and Me
  11. Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy
  12. Original Sin
  13. Mandalay Again
  14. Take Me to the Pilot
  15. Skyline Pigeon
  16. Tiny Dancer
  17. Razor Face
  18. Levon
  19. Madman Across the Water
  20. Pinky
  21. Tonight/Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word
  22. I’m Still Standing
  23. Who Wears These Shoes
  24. All the Young Girls Love Alice
  25. Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n Roll)
  26. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Encore

  1. The Bitch is Back
  2. England and America
  3. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 
  4. Your Song

They also played (not in my dream wish list):

  • I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
  • Border Song
  • Philadelphia Freedom
  • Indian Sunset
  • Take Me to the Pilot
  • Someone Saved My Life Tonight
  • Candle in the Wind
  • Believe
  • Daniel
  • Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
  • Crocodile Rock

 

24 songs and nearly 3 hours of electric music, solid walls of sound.  And, for me, a lifetime of memories and music…and so much more.

Next up

Fort Lauderdale, Florida on November 23 and Miami, Florida on November 24.  Just after Thanksgiving – and two more reasons to feel blessed.

 

 

My Fantasy Farewell Set List

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I can dream. And lately, I’ve been dreaming about what songs I would love to hear Elton and the Band play during their 3-year Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. So I thought I’d put together my list, with a few caveats:

  • I’ll limit the set list to 30 songs (although he usually doesn’t play more than 24-25 these days, I figure he can throw a few more in during this, his final, tour).
  • I’ll try to balance the classics with gems from the back catalog. Although I would love every song to be one of my personal favorites, I do appreciate that most people will want to hear songs from the juke box – and so many of them are so great live anyway).
  • I’ll try to spread selections across the decades, but (of course), they will be heavily weighted to the 70’s.
  • I’ll also try to balance upbeat, high intensity songs with more laid back ones. Gotta have some high energy at an Elton John concert!

So here goes…here’s my fantasy farewell set list:

  1. Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding –  There is no other way to start an Elton John concert, imho.
  2. Bennie and the Jets – Who doesn’t love this live?
  3. Rocket Man – The extended version, of course. The more ad libbing, the better.
  4. Made in England – Where it all began.
  5. Rock and Roll Madonna – Let’s go way, way back.
  6. Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters – My all time favorite song.
  7. Amoreena – Sung as Kimoreena, thank you very much. (This is my dream, after all).
  8. Club at the End of the Street – I always thought this should have been a bigger hit, and it would be fun to hear live.
  9. Burn Down the Mission – Phenomenal live.
  10. Blues for Baby and Me – Instead of Daniel.
  11. Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy – Elton’s and Bernie’s story, part 1.
  12. Original Sin – My second favorite Elton song.
  13. Mandalay Again – He was so proud of the work he did with Leon Russell (and rightfully so – and I love these lyrics).
  14. Take Me to the Pilot – Again, a great one live (and not knowing what it means makes it even more fun).
  15. Skyline Pigeon – He sang this at Ryan White’s funeral and it would be a nod to everything he’s done with EJAF.
  16. Tiny Dancer – The next four songs should be done in this order, just like the album. I’ve always thought this was a tour de force (fource) lineup.
  17. Razor Face
  18. Levon
  19. Madman Across the Water
  20. Pinky – Who doesn’t love this song?
  21. Tonight/Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word – I’m pretty sure he combined these live before and it is perfect pairing.
  22. I’m Still Standing – This always gets people out of their seats.
  23. Who Wears These Shoes – I always liked this song and think it would be fun live.
  24. All the Young Girls Love Alice – These 3 songs should be done in this order, just like on the album. And it will be a high intensity way of ending the main set list.
  25. Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n Roll)
  26. Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Encore

  1. The Bitch is Back – Perfect start for the encore.
  2. England and America – “And if I fall, it’s good to know, there’s England and America.”
  3. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Since the tour is called Farewell Yellow Brick Road, it would be good to save this until the end.
  4. Your Song – Sung just by him, no band, to each and every one of us.

 

Of course, it was very hard paring the list down to just 30 songs in total. And I would love the 2Cellos to perform with him as well as his backup singers. (Of course, I would also love a horn section and even an orchestra, too, but even my dreams are weighted in reality it seems).

Honorable Mention (These are the  songs that were in my first list but didn’t quite make the cut):

  1. Chloe
  2. Paris
  3. Harmony
  4. Island Girl
  5. Honky Cat
  6. Where to Now St. Peter
  7. Elderberry Wine
  8. Blue Avenue
  9. The Captain and the Kid
  10. Grey Seal
  11. Candle in the Wind
  12. Healing Hands
  13. Blessed
  14. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
  15. Crocodile Rock
  16. High Flying Bird
  17. Grow Some Funk of Your Own
  18. Live Like Horses
  19. Hey Ahab/Monkey Suit
  20. Just about everything else in his catalog

 

Now that you’ve seen mine, what songs would you include in YOUR fantasy farewell set list? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

The Twelve Days of Christmas (Elton style)

I haven’t quite stepped into Christmas yet, so I decided to play around with a classic and make an Elton Christmas…

On the first day of Christmas, Sir Elton gave to me…An angel in your tree

On the second day of Christmas, Sir Elton gave to me…Two teas with sugar

On the third day of Christmas, Sir Elton gave to me…Three times the beer

On the fourth day of Christmas, Sir Elton gave to me…Four walls of stone

On the fifth day of Christmas, Sir Elton gave to me…Five days a week

On the sixth day of Christmas, Sir Elton gave to me…Six-inch heels

On the seventh day of Christmas, Sir Elton gave to me…7 o’clock, I wanna rock

On the eighth day of Christmas, Sir Elton gave to me…Eight hundred dollar shoes

On the ninth day of Christmas, Sir Elton gave to me…Nine o’clock mornings

On the tenth day of Christmas, Sir Elton gave to me…Ten tin soldiers

On the eleventh day of Christmas, Sir Elton gave to me…Eleven million dollar pianos

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Sir Elton gave to me…A lifetime of music

 

EltonChristmas

Come on, I know you’re singing it in your head!

And now I think I am in the Christmas spirit!

 

Diamonds are this girl’s best friend

As many of you know, Sir Elton is soon to release Diamonds, the “ultimate greatest hits collection in honor of his and Bernie Taupin’s 50-year songwriting career.” (Yes, mine is pre-ordered as a Christmas present pour moi. Can’t open it until December 25th though)!

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Of course, there is an Elton John: The Diamond Club Facebook group where you can share stories and memories of your favorite diamond song. And me – being ever the contrary and wordy one – couldn’t pick just one song or one memory, so I decided to share some of my diamond moments:

I’ve been thinking about what I should say here, but it is so hard to select just one diamond song/moment for me.

Could it be when I took the shrink wrap off my very first Elton album (Greatest Hits) and gave it a spin?  That was 1974 and I’ve been smitten ever since.

Could it be the first time I saw him in concert (with just Ray Cooper) in 1979 – way up in the nose bleed section – but was thrilled beyond belief? A dream come true.

Could it be every single time I get a new album or CD and listen to it for the very first time? And it’s a sacred ritual that I must listen to it by myself.  Like he’s singing just for me.

Could it be that time when I had front row seats right in front of his piano bench and I KNOW he smiled at me?

Could it be the friends I’ve made over the years and across the globe through our shared love of everything Elton? (For friends are found on every road…)

Could it be when someone tells me that every time they hear an Elton John song, they think of me?

Could it be the light you see in someone’s eyes after they’ve seen him perform live for the first time? And how blessed I feel to have shared that experience with so many family and friends?

Could it be when I realize I’ve been a devotee for more than 40 years and how my life has been enriched and beautified by his music – and still is?

Could it be the day I decided to write a blog about what his music means to me…and then each and every time I see that someone else has actually read it?

Could it be every “next” Elton concert I have the privilege of attending? I’ve been to more than 50 and I know that I’ll leave the next one exhilarated and reaffirmed in my passion for his music and his brilliance.

Yes, it could be…and likely so many more, too.

So, what is (are) your diamond moment(s)?  Do visit the Elton John: The Diamond Club Facebook group to see what other people are saying.

And check out the Diamond Moments on eltonjohn.com, too.  Here’s one about Crocodile Rock.

 

 

 

The golden circle of life

So I finally found the time to go see Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Not normally my kind of movie, but you-know-who is in it.

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I prepared myself for the worst. I hadn’t seen Kingsman, although I’d heard it was pretty violent and very crude – but funny.

Well…

It wasn’t that bad! I actually enjoyed it.

Of course, Sir Elton was the best part (imho).  And if the laughter in the theatre was any indication, so did the rest of the movie goers.  There was noticeable chuckling during each of his scenes. (Maybe they couldn’t get over him using the F-bomb in almost every line, but so did most of the other characters).

I won’t be a spoiler, but suffice it to say that Elton plays himself in the movie (thus the F-word)? The evil Poppy has kidnapped him to be her own private piano player while she plots to take over the world. Hey, even evil-doers love Elton John!

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And he looked so sad as a captive. I just wanted to go up and give him a great big hug.

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Oh, and the costumes! So 1970s – love, love, love it! I wish I could find more images of those, but no such luck.

A few EJ songs were featured in the movie (but not on the soundtrack – why?):

 

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Jack Rabbit was a welcome surprise. Of course, I had to stay through all the credits to listen to Jack Rabbit and to see the credits to Elton and Bernard (as he was listed).

Anyway, go see it if you haven’t already.  For someone who typically doesn’t like these kinds of flicks, I was pleasantly surprised.

Here’s a few reviews (kind to EJ, of course) in case you’re not sure:

My favorite: “Someone give Elton John a Kingsman spin-off immediately!”

I’ll second that.

 

…And all that po-li-ti-cal crap

No, this isn’t a partisan rant or diatribe. I try to avoid posting political, religious or any content that could be even slightly misconstrued as controversial on social media (this blog included). I just don’t want my social experience to be about that. But some recent occurrences have made me chuckle.

Most of you probably know that U.S. President Donald Trump has dubbed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man.”

Personally, I think it’s quite funny.  I’m not up in arms about it as some EJ fans are. Given his sense of humor, I have a feeling that he probably thinks it’s quite hilarious, too. Plus, it brings EJ into the forefront of just about every news outlet, talk show, political cartoon, meme and what have you.  After all, what do they say? There’s no such thing as bad publicity. (And I don’t even think this is bad).

Anyway, here are a couple of said images that I thought were particularly chuckle-worthy:

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Speaking (or not) of politics, Bernie and Elton have penned a few songs in their day that are either overtly political or could be interpreted as having a political message (probably more than I realize).  Here are just a few that come to mind:

  • Fascist Faces
  • Madman Across the Water (is this really about Richard Nixon? I think not)
  • Postcards from Richard Nixon
  • Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher
  • Restless
  • Belfast
  • Border Song
  • Slave
  • Burn Down the Mission
  • Nikita
  • Passengers
  • Too Many Tears

I guess we could add Rocket Man to that list now! 🙂

And this list doesn’t take into account the plethora of war (especially Civil War) related songs. That in and of itself is probably blog worthy.

In case you’re wondering, the title of this blog comes from Fascist Faces, off the album The Fox (1981). I’ve always loved the way he sings “political” in this song:

But I’m tired of being linked with the K.G.B.
And all that po-li-ti-cal crap

 

Question for you: What Elton songs do you think are political? I’d love to hear from you.

Back to the main topic of this blog, we have 70- and 67-year old men getting props for a song they wrote in  1972…not bad, not bad at all.  See, boys, you’re still relevant!

And here’s some unsolicited advice from Kimoreena: If you’re upset about Rocket Man being used by Donald Trump (and now just about everyone in the world), it’s really not that big of a deal. Go with it and have a good laugh. (I mean, you have to laugh else you’ll cry, right)?

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The weight of the world

I can’t believe it’s been almost six months since my last post – and it was nearly a year between that post and the previous one! Just two posts in a year and a half! What is going on with the Kim? The Captain certainly hasn’t slowed down much.

Well…there have been a lot of things going on in my life which have kept me busy and my mind elsewhere. Be that as it may, the biggest thing to me is that I want to be thoughtful in my posts – and lately, I don’t feel like I would have been able to give The Captain and the Kim the thought and care that I expect to.  If a song carries a special meaning or memory for me, I want to describe every nuance of that. If a concert has a special moment (and don’t they all?), I want to capture that for everyone to experience. I don’t just want to post for posting’s sake.

But I’m back now.  (And yes, I can hear the cheers and applause, thank you very much).

As many of you know, I will be retiring at the end of this year.  Retiring much earlier than I had expected, but retiring nonetheless.  It’s been a long 35 years with the same company – mostly good, some not so.  All in all, though, I can say that I’ve had a good run. Time to pass the baton.

Fortune and fame is so fleeting these days
I’m happy to say I’m amazed that I’m still around

I’ve traveled to places I never thought I’d go, worked on some really cool projects, met my husband, received 7 patents, published many articles and reports, even saw Elton at a conference my company sponsored…And most importantly, I’ve met and worked with so many talented and all around good people.

You know, I have worked for the same company for more than 60% of my life.  No doubt I spent too many hours working and thinking about work.  I was distracted from my children and family much too often.  I associated my value as a person too much with my career success or setbacks.  It’s been such a big part of my life – probably more than it should have been.

There’s a long list of names that I don’t recall
Even though my memory’s good
The rain washed away the lemons and weeds
When the weight of the world weighed more than it should

Part of me is nervous about retiring, the other part is excited. (Remember, I’m a sucker for that dichotomy thing).  As I work on my resume, search for what’s out there and what’s possible, I try to lean towards the excited side vs. the nervous side. It’s not always easy, especially as my end date closes in (4 months to go as of this writing).

So…

On January 1, 2018, I want to feel like I felt the day I knew I was going to graduate from Georgia Tech.  I remember it vividly.  My advisor had just given me an “A” on my senior design project.  I did it! I was graduating! It was raining outside, but I didn’t need an umbrella – and I felt like I was flying.  That weight was definitely lifted.

And the weight of the world is off my back
When we fell, we got up
And crawled out the cracks
Excuse me if I take some comfort in that
Happy today, happy to play
With the weight of the world off my back

Well, I’ve had a different weight for 35 years – and it will feel good – scratch that, it will feel awesome – when that weight is lifted, too. Wish me luck!

And now, for your listening pleasure:

 

Weight of the World – Peachtree Road (2004)

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