Between seventeen and twenty

My daughter turned seventeen recently, and lo and behold, it dawned on me that my son will turn twenty in January.  Which, of course, triggered that one degree of separation synapse in my brain and (flash!) Between Seventeen and Twenty came to mind.

Supposedly, Bernie wrote this song about his first wife Maxine (she of Tiny Dancer fame). He met her when she was 17 and he 20.  They were divorced when this song was released, and she had fallen for Elton’s new bassist, Kenny Passerelli.

I wonder who’s sleeping in your sheets tonight
Whose head rests upon the bed
Could it be a close friend I knew so well
Who seems to be so close to you instead
Close to you instead

It is also rumored that the song could be about Bernie and Elton, because Bernie was 17 and Elton 20 when they met. And not long after Blue Moves was released, Bernie and Elton went on their separate (but thankfully short lived!) ways. Personally, I prefer (and tend to believe) the first story line.

Bernie on the Blue Moves cover – Click to listen to “Between Seventeen and Twenty”

Of course, I have my own “between seventeen and twenty” story.  As if.  Mine is nowhere near as dramatic as either of the two above, but my first long-term relationship spanned that very same timeframe and those very same ages.  We were both the same age, though, so the story line diverges from there.  And I had never felt about that person like Bernie felt about Maxine when he wrote Tiny Dancer. But it was an impactful time in my life nonetheless, especially the twenty part (when I asserted my independence). And let’s just leave it at that.

So much has flown between the years
When I was twenty and you were seventeen

I’m hypothesizing now that many of you, too, have your own “between seventeen and twenty” stories.  It’s a time in most people’s lives that is rife with new experience: High school, testing the waters, love, heartbreak, college, moving away from home and so much more.  What’s your “between seventeen and twenty” story?

Oh, and I wish my two children their own memorable “between seventeen and twenty” experiences, too (preferably without the heartbreak and rebelliousness).

Between Seventeen and Twenty (Blue Moves – 1976)

Damn…I thought it was a Billy Joel concert!

Guest blog by Mark Kull

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Kimoreena has attended, nay, devoured twenty-three Elton concerts.  Lisa, our sister and HER faithful wine smuggler, now can count seven, without a single arrest.  Cindy, another sister (gosh, how many more can there possibly be?) was gently coerced to attend one.  Even brother Paul has literally rubbed elbows with Sir Elton as he was part of the military security detail assigned to Hillary Clinton’s fiftieth birthday bash.  I may now proudly boast of two.

Continuing the numbers theme… four thousand seven hundred and thirty-nine refers to the number of days between my experiences.  Both were official event openings of new or refurbished arenas.  The first was Philips arena in Atlanta on September 24, 1999; we surprised Kimoreena with tickets while she was in town on business.  One of the first performances of the Medusa Tour, the arena setting became intimate… just Elton, his piano, and twenty thousand of his closest friends (and me).  I recall not being particularly enthusiastic about attending the show, my interest in Elton tempered by memories of an adolescence in which sister number three commandeered the phonograph and Elton dominated the playlist.  Much to my delight (and chagrin) I was awed by the musicianship (less the over-the-top showmanship of my youth) and by the exuberance with which my sister absorbed the show.  Elton, the part-time Atlanta resident was on point and as charming as any life-long southern gentleman.  Although not on the set list that night and written well before he put down roots in the A-T-L, an excerpt that reminds me of that evening, the beginnings of an interest in his entire body of work, and my time spent there…

Oh Georgia take me to your Southlands
I sometimes feel that life has passed me by
Oh Georgia lead me through your heartlands
I need to see them one more time before I die

— Georgia (1978)

The second was the Sun Dome in Tampa on September fourteenth of this year.  The headline from Gabe Echazabal’s review (CL Tampa Bay) “Elton John Doesn’t Let the Sun Dome Down” is descriptive of both the power-packed production and the energy exchanged between performer and crowd.  With a full ensemble, the additional percussion, vocals, and strings, it was the perfect complement to the one-man show from thirteen years prior.  AND one of the back-up vocalists, Rose Stone, is a founding member of Sly and the Family Stone…  Fuh-git-a-bow-dit!  If only the Teflon-topped Sun Dome could have held up its acoustical end of the bargain.  I enjoy the “hits”, of course, but I found myself wanting for more of the obscure tracks as my knowledge of his catalogue has been expanded thanks to Kimoreena subtly sending me a starter kit of EJ albums and sporadic additions arriving via Amazon from time to time.  Also noted is the diversity of his fan base as every segment of society was excitedly represented there (including two sisters who never ceased “getting jiggy with it” throughout the entire show).  Needless to say, I enjoyed every second of it… all nine thousand seven hundred and eighty of them.

Songs with numbers in the title, for your considerATION…