Sat. Aug 17
I have a swingset in my back yard and I have spent the morning with headphones and going through my music collection.
I sat swinging and enjoying the beautiful cool morning and the gentle breeze. I went through artist after artist with songs almost at full blast. I was not just listening but experiencing their music. Complete focused attention on the music.
And it smacked me in the face.....
The realization that it has been a long time since I was present in the moment and unconcerned with anything other than what I was feeling. All I could do was linger in the memories and inspirations were being dished up while gently floating back and forth through the air and listening to the music.
It was a visceral experience.
And then came the sound of the song, "Good Bye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John and instantly I was transported to age 18 and laying underneath a Young Chang baby grand piano. My best friend Matthew was sitting on the bench plunking out the beautiful introduction to the song over and over. He was an Elton John disciple really.
Matthew saw pieces of himself in Elton and was inspired to be the most authentic version of himself because Elton had already paved a path for him.
Matthew always amazing me with his tenacity to achieve tasks. With my lack of interest in personal growth, I was his polar opposite. I was a high school drop-out and Matthew graduated from high school early. Matthew studied and sang classical music and took formal music lessons. I taught myself how to play guitar off of guitar tab books that I collected from Media Play and Tower Records and relied on the good graces of the public education system for additional music classes before dropping out. He worked slinging pizza and cleaning up after unappreciative kids and parents at Chuckie Cheese to earn money to pay for his beloved Volkswagon Jetta, lovingly named Elton.
We listened to Elton in Elton.
We blasted the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Album.
Matthew began digging deep into Napster in 1999 and 2000 for early live recordings of Elton and he would shower me with CD-R's decorated with his beautiful script handwriting and vulgar humor.
I listened to these cds for as long as driving around with huge cd books in your car was a thing. And now they are some where packed away in my keepsakes rarely thought of or touched now.
Enter YouTube and a general search for live Elton John from the 70s and one of my first search results is Madman Shakes Tokyo.
This is one of the cds he burned me. This is one of the albums he insisted I listen to and provide me with random facts and details about the performance and of Elton's early career. The opening song had me in the feels real quick.
It also had me transported instantly from the formal living room of his family home to the passenger seat of his forest green jetta. The interior was all black, the seats were leather. He had long fingers that moved gracefully over piano keys as well as a distinct way of driving the 5 speed. His right hand gently wrapped and arched over the side of the stick shift closest to the dash. His wrist was delicately arched downward and would effortlessly shift from gear to gear as Elton serenaded us.
Elton John puts on an amazing performance from start to finish at this show. He never ceases to amaze and inspire me with his gorgeous melodies, intricate song structures and beautiful harmonies.
Music is a powerful reminder and connector to memories and things we may take for granted as long gone. I am so thankful for these memories and the music that gives me access to them. Gives me a little bit more time for Matthew, even if it brings the tears. I love him and miss him everyday.