Friday night’s alright for…

…well, a livestream Elton John concert, that’s what!

Of course, it would have been so much better to be there in person, but the livestream of the Yamaha 125th Anniversary concert wasn’t too shabby.  In some respects, it’s like having a front row seat:

Elton singing Tiny Dancer

Elton singing Tiny Dancer

My only complaint  – the concert started at 8:00 pm PST. Elton didn’t come onstage until after 2:00 am my time. So it will be a slow Sat-uh-day for me, I’m guessing. But I did manage to stay up and watch the concert in its entirety, from Earth, Wind and Fire all the way through to Sir Elton.

The guest list included EW&F, as mentioned, as well as David Foster, Chaka Khan, Lucy Schwartz, Amy Grant, Leogun, Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin, David King, Toto, Michael McDonald and Sarah McLachlan. I really enjoyed Lucy (heard her for the very first time), Michael (love me some Doobie Brothers) and Sarah McLachlan (what a voice – and Angel is one of my favorite songs).

When Elton finally did appear, he played 5 songs:

  • Your Song
  • Tiny Dancer
  • Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word
  • I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues
  • Rocket Man

The first 3 were played with a 70-piece orchestra, conducted by James Newton Howard (an Elton John Band alumnus).  Very nice.

The last 2 were Elton by himself, allowing some virtuoso moments.  I especially like the jazzy rendition of Blues:

Was there anything new or earth shattering about his performance?  Not really, but Elton could sing the phone book and I’d be happy. But it was an historic concert nonetheless.  Why, you ask?  Because this wasn’t just Elton playing a Yamaha piano. It was Elton playing a Yamaha Disklavier piano in Anaheim, all the while his actual piano performance was being reproduced simultaneously to remote Disklaviers at locations around the world.  Pretty cool stuff, not to mention first ever.

I do wish they had shown what the remote locations looked like. It would have been really cool to see one of the Disklaviers seemingly playing (Elton John songs) by itself. Stay tuned, those videos will surely appear on YouTube soon.

I would’ve loved to see something more uptempo/rock in his set list – say, Burn Down the Mission – with the orchestra. That would have been phenomenal. But I understand that the objective was to showcase the piano.

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 2.35.57 AM

Congratulations, Yamaha, on 125 years! And thank you for partnering and showcasing Elton in such a first-of-a-kind way.

(BTW, did you know that I also own a Yamaha piano?  I guess that’s another ‘one degree’ for me and EJ. Admittedly, mine is only a baby grand but it is a Yamaha. I must confess that EJ playing Yamahas did factor into my purchase decision just a bit)!

My 6 o’clock alarm came way too soon this morning.  No rest for the weary, as they say.  Nevertheless, it was a great start to my weekend. Now, EJ, let’s get some South Florida stops in your schedule here soon!

It belongs to me

The other day, I was sampling some of my earlier posts, and I happened upon “To really go forward, you have to go back to the beginning,” which is about The Union documentary.

I was reminded that the documentary is currently playing on HBO, so I thought I’d reminisce. Well, wouldn’t you know? Elton’s own words about his songwriting process struck a chord with me. I’m not sure why I didn’t catch it when I wrote the blog last year, but I have discovered yet another of those “one degree” connections.

Quoth Sir Elton, songwriting is “normally a very private process. I enter a movie made up of Bernie Taupin’s words. It’s a private world. Before it belongs to anyone else, it belongs to me.

Do you know that’s exactly how I feel every time Elton releases a new album?  To this day, nearly forty years and thirty-odd albums later*, I always listen to a new release by myself the first few times. I must. I’m not quite sure why, except that I enjoy experiencing it on my own, with no one’s (potentially less appreciative) ears clouding my judgement. For me, it is a very private world, like he’s singing just for me and Bernie has written just for me.  So before it belongs to anyone else, it belongs to me.

Now, my family can tell you that eventually I do, indeed, share the new music with them (over and over and over again, some  might add) along with my interpretations. But it’s just the first time that I want (need) to keep it all to myself.  After that, feel free to listen all you want (and, of course, ask for my humble opinion).

Needless to say, when The Voyeur comes out in May, there’ll be some alone time  for me to take it all in. Can’t wait!

*Pop Quiz: And what was the very first EJ album I owned?

For friends are found on every road…

…and today, the road was A1A. Sometimes it’s been Route 13. It’s also been SW 18th Street, SW 238th Street, I-95, I-75 and so many other roads as well. And, one could say, it’s even been the internet highway.

I’ve been wanting to blog about this song for a while now, but I couldn’t quite find the inspiration. Until last night, which brought an overdue, long awaited (and very lovely) reunion to my life.

[Warning: This post may be awash with sentiment, but, oh well, I’m feeling sentimental today, and unapologetically so].

I hope the day will be a lighter highway
For friends are found on every road
Can you ever think of any better way
For the lost and weary travelers to go

From the soundtrack to the 1971 movie “Friends,” it’s a sweet, innocent song, unmistakeably (lyrically, vocally and instrumentally, especially the rich orchestration) from the early years.

The Pink Album

[Side note: I’ve seen most of the movie, but, as a mother, I was a little uncomfortable and somewhat disturbed with the depiction of the “love story” between such youngsters, so I didn’t watch it to the end. But I digress].

I’ve traveled around the sun way too many times to openly admit, but it is so comforting to know that there are some friends (regardless of time, space and other degrees of separation) who will be my friends forever.  Some are related to me, most are not, but it matters not.  The main criteria for a “forever friend” – they don’t judge you. They accept you for who you are. Period.

Making friends for the world to see
Let the people know you got what you need
With a friend at hand you will see the light
If your friends are there then everything’s all right

Yesterday, as I got ready for the reunion, I was surprised that many of the insecurities of my twenties, which I truly thought I had overcome, came rushing back to the surface as I stood in front of the mirror. (Does that mean they are still there, just pushed deep down so I don’t have to deal with them everyday)? You know, I truly, really wanted to go, but I almost talked myself out of it. Needless to say, I am so glad I didn’t. Wonderful friends, wonderful memories, and promises to keep seeing the light together.

Friends

Friends

It seems to me a crime that we should age
These fragile times should never slip us by
A time you never can or shall erase
As friends together watch their childhood fly

If I recall correctly, in an interview for The Union, Elton said that, of all of his recordings, he wished Friends had gotten more recognition than it did. (Hmmm…I could say that about a lot of his albums, frankly).  But today, I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment.

Friends (Friends – 1971)