Christmas in the middle of the year

So, today the first 15 replacement EJ albums arrived.

And why do I need replacement albums? Well, I am ashamed to say (yes, my head is hanging, hanging, hanging in shame) that several years ago, I let my husband convince me that I would never, ever, ever listen to my albums again…of which many were EJ (of course!), and of those, many were in duplicate (because I had worn the originals out).  So…we gave them away.  (Gasp!)  Actually, we put them out on the lawn with other big items, and one of our neighbors came by and asked if he could have them. I always envisioned they went to a good home (vs. being sold at a yard sale or on what would become eBay), but I have regretted that decision so many times!!!

So I decided to build my EJ vinyl collection from scratch again. Yes, I may never listen to them (because I don’t think I have a turntable any more), but I just want to touch, to see, to smell them.  They represent a link to my past…and, of course, to EJ and Bernie’s past.  It’s like reading a hard cover book or getting a hand-written note from someone – you can’t replace that feeling.

What’s even better, some of these albums I never had in vinyl…I was buying CDs then, so my collection will be even bigger and better than before.

Anyway, when they arrived, my daughter said I was like a kid a Christmas. So (early) Merry Christmas, Kimoreena…here’s to the first 15! And I’ve got Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy on its way now!

  • 11-17-70
  • 21 at 33
  • A Single Man
  • Blue Moves
  • Breaking Hearts
  • Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player
  • Friends
  • Greatest Hits Volume II
  • Here and There
  • Ice on Fire
  • Jump Up!
  • Live in Australia
  • Madman Across the Water
  • Reg Strikes Back
  • Too Low For Zero

And in case you don’t know the song from which I borrowed the title for this post, here it is:

Cold as Christmas (In the Middle of the Year)

My thoughts on this song will just have to wait for another blog post…gotta go touch and sniff and hug those old albums now!

Cold as Christmas (Too Low for Zero – 1983)

Where to now St. Peter?

I took myself a blue canoe
And I floated like a leaf
Dazzling, dancing half enchanted
In my Merlin sleep
Crazy was the feeling
Restless were my eyes
Insane they took the paddles
My arms they paralysed

Supposedly this song is about a soldier killed in the Civil War.  I can see that (especially when you think about some of the images in the second verse), but I always thought it was about someone who committed suicide and his/her journey to the other side…not knowing whether he was going to heaven or hell, but looking to St. Peter (who guards the pearly gates) for some advice.

So where to now St. Peter
If it’s true I’m in your hands
I may not be a Christian
But I’ve done all one man can
I understand I’m on the road
Where all that was is gone
So where to now St. Peter
Show me which road I’m on
Which road I’m on

However you may interpret the lyrics – or however Bernie intended them – I find this song absolutely magical.  I know that’s a strange word to use if it’s about either of the above themes.  The melody and Elton’s voice are enchanting – a perfect fit for the imagery.  And the music, well, it is superb.  I can listen to this song over and over and over again (and I usually do when I have Tumbleweed Connection in my CD player).  If you’ve never heard this song, you don’t know what you’re missing!

Show me which road I’m on, which road I’m on

Where to now St. Peter (Tumbleweed Connection – 1970)

Me and you ren-dez-vous at the club at the end of the street

In an interview on his DVD collection “Dream Ticket,”  Elton said he didn’t understand why this song wasn’t a bigger hit.  NEITHER. DO. I.

I defy you to listen to it and not at least bop your head or sing “Do wop de do de do do” –  I. DEFY. YOU.

When the shades are drawn
And the light of the moon is banned
And the stars up above
Walk the heavens hand in hand
There’s a shady place
At the end of the working day
Where young lovers go
And this hot little trio plays

I mean, what a cool song!  It’s got that old-time R&B feel – and the sax is fantastic, too!

That’s where we meet
That’s where we meet
Me and you ren-dez-vous
In the club at the end of the street
Oooh where we meet
Oooh where we meet
Me and you rendezvous
In the club at the end of the street

And I just love the way he says ren-dez-vous, don’t you?

So…I hope you enjoy this little piece of animated fun as I do…and it’s ok to sing along or (bite your lip) get up and dance!

Me and you ren-dez-vous

Club at the End of the Street (Sleeping with the Past – 1989)

When I get to Paris…

Paris was always my dream, and I’ve been lucky enough to visit twice.  From their songs that mention Paris and from their interviews, it seems like the fellows and I are both enamored by the City of Lights.

But when I get to Paris
We’ll paint all our portraits
In brush-strokes of yellow
And christen the canvas
The left bank is crying
For colour to crown it
Like the roof of a palace
We’ll drink in the amber
When I get to Paris

Don’t you just feel like you’re there?  I know I do.  I’m sitting outdoors at one of those cafes, sipping vin rouge, enjoying my favorite pâté avec cornichons and writing in my journal (how très Parisienne of me, I know). The first time I was there, I was by myself.  Which was actually the best way for me to experience it – no one else to color (or should I say colour) my impressions.  I walked around just breathing it in, and I wrote and wrote and wrote (over 50 pages!) in my journal during my five days there.

You were the best of Montmartre Street life
You signed the tablecloth
Art has its price
It’s so hard to hold on
To the ghost of your breed
It takes ambition
To call the colours you need

Ah, Montmartre Street…I had my portrait painted there during my second visit by two different artists.  I still have them – I’ll have to dig them out.

Anyway, I can’t seem to find a video or audio file of Elton singing Paris on the web (which is too bad, since Elton’s voice sounds so good and la musique est incroyable trop)…so if I may, I’d like to share my own view of Paris. Hey, I ain’t Bernie, but the sentiment is heartfelt nonetheless…

My Paris

We met
Introduced for the first time
I was nervous
I have admired you from afar
For as long as I can remember

Yet far from lonely
Inexplicably drawn
Like so many others
That I could meet you
On my own terms

I couldn’t talk to you
But your voice
Has always been clear to me
You’ve been calling my name
For so long
I knew you instantly

I walked
In the footsteps of history
Standing high on the hillside
Desperate to capture your soul
With my every breath

I dare not claim
To be worthy
Of your attention:
You are my grandest dream
I took much more
Than I could ever give
But therein lies your grace

Romanced by your legend
Charmed by the warmth of your palette
Calmed by the gentleness of your touch
I will cherish
These five days
Of our silent embrace

Now you’re a part of me
And I of you
I hope
That our acquaintance
Is special

Though my words
Do you no justice
I carry your passion
With me always:
My secret
My desire
My Paris

-Kimoreena (circa 1996)

Paris (Leather Jackets – 1986)

Here’s to an older me and you

Hey how about this
A little conversation tonight
Thinking aloud how we struggled to find
Our place in the dizzy heights

Don’t often do this
We never really get the chance
Nearly froze to death on Oxford Street
Now we’re sitting in the South of France

Now, haven’t you ever gotten together with an old friend – someone you haven’t seen after many years – and it seems just like yesterday – like no time has passed? I just want to go “Awwwww…” because that’s how I think of Elton and Bernie after all these years. Musical soulmates.  But beyond that, I like this song because it is honest in its simplicity and “everydayness” – something we can all relate to.

Old ’67 what a time it was
What a time of innocence, what a time we’ve lost
Raise a glass and have a laugh, have a laugh or two
Here’s to old ’67 and an older me and you

“Old ’67” refers to 1967, when Elton and Bernie started writing together. They’ve come a long way, baby, that’s for sure.  I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to be them and to look back at where they came from, where they’ve been and where they are now.  But they made it and still going strong – despite the odds, despite the years, despite being “targets on the rifle range.”

Talking through the evening
Sitting here side by side
Just you and me on a balcony
It’s a little bit funny this feeling inside

That last line – that gets to me every time I hear it.  Call me sentimental, I can live with that.

To top it all off, one of my friends from college (who I promised will remain nameless) and is as big an Eltonite as I am, borrowed Bernie’s lyrics and wrote some special ones for me for my 25th anniversary with IBM.  I was so touched (and still am) when I read the lyrics.  So here’s Old ’82…

Hey how about this
A little talk about those Tech days
Thinking aloud how we struggled to find
Our way around North Avenue

Don’t often do this
We studied CS, not English
Nearly froze to death on Peachtree Street
So you went back to South Florida

Whenever we get together
It’s good to shoot the breeze
Thinking about you, Gordon and me
And realizing we haven’t changed over the years

Old ’82 what a time it was
What the Varsity tasted like then, what it still tastes like now
Thinking about Gagliano or Goda and I’ll bet you’ll have a laugh or two
Here’s to Old ’82 and and older me and you

Sentimental about the Rich Building?
Conversing ’bout those Yellow Jacket days
Laughing about how the two of us sound
When we sing at Elton’s concerts these days

Honest, it’s amazing
That we get together occasionally
For in between the kids, work and all the other stuff
It’s great that we’ve been able to stay in touch

Talking all through those ICS classes
Sitting here thinking how fortunate we were
Just ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down’ on you and me
It’s a little bit funny this feeling inside

Here’s to you, my friend (you know who you are) – to old ’82 and an older me and you…

To an older me and you, too, Elton

Old ’67 (The Captain and the Kid – 2006)

If you ask how I am then I’ll just say inspired

One of my favorite Bernie lines ever!  Too bad I always forget to respond that way when someone asks “How are you?”!

There was a face on a hoarding that someone had drawn on
And just enough time for the night to pass by without warning
Away in the distance there’s a blue flashing light
Someone’s in trouble somewhere tonight
As the flickering neon stands ready to fuse
The wind blows away all of yesterday’s news

I feel like I’m right there in London, sitting in some diner in the middle of the night, impatiently waiting for morning to arrive…I can smell the cigarette smoke, I can hear the quintessentially British sirens…Amazingly graphic.

(Oh, yes, and I must admit that I had to look up the word “hoarding” when I first heard this song.  Apparently, it’s the British word for “billboard.”  Cool).

‘Cause the steam’s in the boiler the coal’s in the fire
If you ask how I am then I’ll just say inspired
If the thorn of a rose is the thorn in your side
Then you’re better off dead if you haven’t yet died

And Nigel, you outdid yourself on this song.  Love, love, love, love, love the drums!

Better Off Dead

Better Off Dead (Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy – 1975)

I was justified when I was five…were you?

So far, I’ve blogged mostly about ballads.  But there are so many different sides to Elton’s music – you can’t pin him down to a single genre (which is one of the reasons I love his music).  So, let’s go down the harder rock path today…

One of my favorite, favorite songs is “The Bitch is Back”…it’s a classic – and such a great concert song, especially when EJ gets on top of the piano! It certainly has passed the test of time…you could even say it has surpassed the test of time.  I say this because I don’t remember hearing this on the radio, even though it was released as a single.   Probably because the word “bitch” was verboten back then.  Such a shock!  Today, the word is every day.  Not sure if that’s good or bad, but I do like the song!

I can bitch, I can bitch
`Cause I’m better than you
It’s the way that I move
The things that I do

I remember watching the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004 when Elton was honored.  Billy Joel sang this song – I was a bit shocked that they’d allow him to sing it, but that just goes to show you where we are these days.  Seemed kinda weird to see George and Laura Bush bopping their heads to the song, but hey, it’s a great song.  You’ve gotta get up and move to it.

It doesn’t matter if the song is about Elton (supposedly Bernie wrote it after his wife at the time made a comment), it could be about anyone.   I know it could certainly be my theme song from time to time.  In fact, I’ve told my husband he could make it my ring tone on his phone, but he hasn’t so far.  I’m sure I’ll earn it some day!  🙂

Here’s a few versions for you to enjoy:

The One and Only (Love the pink wig!)

The One and Only (On his 60th birthday at MSG)

Billy Joel’s Tribute (following Bennie and the Jets)

The Bitch is Back (Caribou – 1974)

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