More sights and sounds from Vegas, baby…

Yes, I know I already blogged about my Vegas experience, but that was only about the concert.  Trust me when I say there was so much more to the Elton experience in the Disney World for adults.  But not to worry – it was all G-rated.

Arriving at Caesars Palace, we were greeted by the very reason for our trip:

Welcome to Caesars Palace!

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!  And all throughout Caesars, there were subtle (oh, yes, you know how subtle Vegas is) reminders of his presence.

When we got to our room, well, of course, the cover on the in-room magazine was of you-know-who:

This may be the Guide to Everything Las Vegas, but I only want to see one thing!

Caesars even played his music quite regularly…just after checking in, for example, I heard “Kiss the Bride,” not something that you’d hear on a PA let alone even a radio station.  And I swear, every time I walked through the maze that is Caesars, I heard at least one of his songs.  (They had to throw one or to Celine or Shania tunes in, you know).  Ah, heaven to an Eltonite like me.

In front of the Colosseum, the view was nice, too:

Sharing the spotlight

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Colosseum Boutique (I like to call it the Elton John store).  Anything and everything Elton (with a tiny corner reserved for Celine.  Ok, I understand – the Colosseum was built for her).  Instead of throwing my money away at the slots or the tables, I happily threw mine away at the EJ store…but at least I have something to show for it!

All things EJ

I may not have gambled while I was in Vegas, but I’ll happily admit that I did throw a  bit of money away in this boutique.

Ah, sweet memories.  All this means that a good time was had by all (especially me)!

And he shall be Levon…

You know, this song has been on my list to blog about for a while now.  With the recent passing of Levon Helm, it seems appropriate (albeit a bit too late) to finally get around to it.

Let’s start with the name.  Well, the name (and thus the song) were inspired by Levon Helm,  The Band’s co-founder, drummer, and singer.  The Band was apparently Elton John’s and Bernie Taupin’s favorite group back in the day.

To put it in context, Elton told Entertainment Weekly this week, “When I heard The Band’s music from Big Pink, their music changed my life. And Levon was a big part of that band. Nigel Olson, my drummer, will tell you that every drummer that heard him was influenced by him. He was the greatest drummer and a wonderful singer and just a part of my life that was magical.”

I think this song is just magical (especially performed live).

The cover for the single

Lots of people have tried to figure out what the lyrics mean, assigning such varied themes as the growing movement toward secularism (“God is dead”) to Vietnam-era veterans returning with heroin addictions (balloons=dealers, sweet Jesus=heroin) to pro-religion (“he shall believe on”) to Future Shock (Alvin Tostig = Alvin Toffler).

Call me a simpleton, but I think it’s about something much more straightforward – the relationship between fathers and sons and the expectations therein.  Here, you have three generations:  Alvin Tostig (the grandfather), Levon (the father) and Jesus (the son).  Alvin wants Levon to be a good man, Levon wants a better life for Jesus.  Levon worked hard (perhaps too hard) to make his money, alienating his son, which is why Jesus wants to leave Levon far behind.

Whatever your interpretation, it is a great song.  Period.

Back to the song’s inspiration, Elton said he had “no idea” that the musician was sick, and added, “I’m very dismayed and shocked that he died so quickly.  But now my son [Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John] has his name.”

Yes, he shall be Levon.

May you rest in peace, Levon Helm.  I don’t know much about you, but anyone who inspired Elton and Bernie is an inspiration to me, too.  Your name and your spirit are eternalized.

Album Cut

A Live Version

Levon (Madman Across the Water – 1971)

Viva Las EJ!

What more can I say (oh but you know I will)…the Million Dollar Piano Show was PHENOMENAL.  Did you expect anything less?  C’mon…It’s Vegas…it’s EJ…the two were destined for each other.

I’d been waiting for this day (April 14, 2012) to arrive for 6 months.  Had the tickets in my hot little hands since November.  Since I missed the Red Piano show, I just had to go to the Million Dollar Piano show.   And that I did, along with my husband Wayne, my sister Lisa and my brother-in-law Karl.   After all, I did need an entourage to make the 2500-mile trek to Vegas with me!

Don't leave home without them!

Walking into the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, I realized that a typical rock concert it was not going to be.  The plush seating was reminiscent of a Broadway show.  And the stage!  Oh my, the stage:

Now that's an EJ stage!

A far cry from resplendence on an orange case.

The concert began with Elton entering stage left, enrobed in opulence, accompanied by two assistants to help him out of his sartorial (albeit quite sparkly) confinement.  And then The Bitch was Back.

Here we go!

[Side Note:  There was no jumping off of or standing on the Million Dollar Piano.  I’m guessing Yamaha wouldn’t let even Elton do that].

EJ was the most talkative I have EVER heard him in concert – almost chatty, in fact.  He started by thanking everyone for buying a ticket.  Now, is that not gracious or what?  Told a few stories, kitsched a bit, and said not once but multiple times, “I’m 65, and I don’t give a shit” (receiving fervent applause each time).   You’ve earned it, EJ, you’ve earned it.

Having been to one or two EJ concerts before (smile), there were still some surprises.  For the most part, the show was more sedate than a regular concert.  Partly because he played a lot more ballads than rockers, and partly because the audience stayed seated through most of it.  [Side Note #2: How can you stay seated during The Bitch is Back, I ask you]?

The Master at work

Surprise #1:  EJ played Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters, my very favorite song.  He explained how he chose that for the 9/11 concert, wanting to be reverent and respectful at such a mournful time.

Surprise #2:  Ray Cooper joined the band for at least two songs, most notably Better Off Dead and Indian Sunset.  Very dramatic, very intense…and Ray was the madman of percussion as always.  (Can you believe he is 71)?!!!

Surprise #3: When he played Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting, the front two rows got to go on stage with him.  Way cool! (And to think I had a chance to get 4th row tickets, but only 2 of them.  Although I twinged a bit when I saw how close they were, it was probably for the best – I would have been very disappointed not being able to go up on stage being that close).

Ah, to have been in Row 1 or 2...

It was over much too quickly…only two hours vs. his typical 3-hour concert.  And [Surprise #4], he and the band took a Vegas-style bow at the end of the show, not something they normally do.

The Bow

All in all, a wonderful show and a wonderful evening.  I knew my sister would enjoy it – and was very pleased (and relieved) that my husband and brother-in-law did, too.

P.S.  Special thanks to my brother Mark for the title of this blog post.

Kimoreena meets the Brown Dirt Cowboy

Can you believe it?  I actually met Bernie Taupin last night in Boca Raton, Florida!!!

His latest art was showing at the Wentworth Gallery here in Boca – I believe it is called the “More Than Words” exhibition.

In describing his artwork, Bernie says:

“Canvas to me is simply the visual extension of what I have spent my life creating through words. The imagination, in my estimation, is the most powerful tool the artist possess enabling us to conjure up beautiful distraction for the ears and eyes.

I have no formula except that which comes from what I dream, feel and see. To me colors are like words…they express emotions…likewise texture and mediums display an abundance of moods.” (Thanks to Lorrie’s Pop Life Art Blog).

Now, I’m not an art expert, I just know what I like.  And I am very impressed by his work.  His use of multi-media and abstraction is striking.  (And of course I appreciate many of the titles).  I really liked French Quarter, Rise, Fire Box and Monolith II.

And now for the big moment.  (Yes, I was nervous, but I held it together.  I was actually able to string words together and form a few sentences).

Bernie came up to me (looking quite dapper, I might add) with his hand extended and asked my name.  I said “I’m Kimberlee” and the gallery rep said “Kimberlee with two e’s” (we had joked about that earlier).  As he was signing, I spelled it out for him and he remarked that he had never seen it that way.  I said (ever the opportunist), “Maybe you could use it in a lyric someday.”  😉

I told him that my favorite piece in the exhibit was one titled “French Quarter” because it reminded me of lyrics of his song called “Paris” – “We’ll drink in the amber / when I get to Paris.”  He said “Wow, that’s deep.  I don’t even remember that.”

French Quarter by Bernie Taupin

We chit chatted a little about South Florida, and, as I was leaving, I said that I was honored to meet him.  And Bernie, ever the gentleman, said “Thank you, sweethaaaaahhhhhht.”  (That’s British for sweetheart, in case you were wondering).

Ok, yes, I am smitten.  And thrilled beyond words.

I also met his gorgeous and very, very nice wife Heather.  She grew up in South Florida.  She actually took this photo of my friend and I with Bernie:

Kimoreena, the Brown Dirt Cowboy and my friend Aristea

I never thought I’d get a chance to meet him in person.  What an honor!  And for him to be so gracious to everyone and to bring his family, it was quite lovely.  You know how you hear when people meet their idols and they end up disappointed?  Not me.  I wish I could’ve said something profound that would make him remember me, but I know I will always remember – and treasure – this moment.

Thank you, Aristea, for accompanying me.  And a special shout out to Pearl, my soul sister.  You know what I’m talking about!