Okay, last week was Motown…my first musical love and last night was Elton John!!! In case you don’t remember, he is my selection for ‘tunes to take when stranded on a desert island’. Those songs written by Bernie Taupin and Elton John just speak to me in a way that music is supposed to. Before I get into the American Idol stats I want to first give you a little trivia on the pair. Hope you don’t mind. First off, did you know Elton’s real name is Reginald Kenneth Dwight? He changed it to Elton Hercules John in homage to two of his co-members in Bluesology, Elton Dean and Long John Baldrey. Bluesology served as a backing band for a number of R&B groups, most notably The Isley Brothers and Patti LaBelle. He was known as Reggie. Patti LaBelle still refers to him that way. Of course, now he is Sir Elton Hercules John. He was knighted by the queen on February 24, 1998. He also resides part time in Atlanta, GA!! We Georgia natives love that fact!!
I heard Elton in an interview once when he appeared on “Inside the Actors Studio” with James Lipton on BravoTV (aka best network on TV). He talked about the partnership with Bernie Taupin which began in 1967 (an amazing year…my birth). This is how it went down. Bernie would go into a room alone and write the poem that would become the lyrics of these amazing songs. He would then bring the finished product to Elton and he would sit at the piano and turn it into a song. He said on average it took no more than 30 minutes to complete the melody and the arrangement. He even went on to say that if he went past the 30 minute mark he would just walk away from it. To prove his point, he looked out into the audience which consisted of students of the Actors Studio and said bring me a passage in a book right now and I will sit at the piano and turn it into a song while you watch. (There was an amazing grand piano set up on the stage.) And, he did it in about 5 minutes. Oh, and the song was good!! He has sold over 250 million records in a career that spans 4 decades. He has won 6 Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Surprisingly enough, that was his first year of eligibility. I am shocked by that fact. I mean, hello…R&R Hall of fame! What took you so long?
You know through the years there has been a lot of turmoil in Elton’s life. All of it was self imposed due to substance abuse issues, etc. Our turmoil is always self imposed; but, he is such an inspiration. He overcame his own demons, he achieved more than he probably ever dreamed that he would. He lives his life the way he wants to. He gives back to the charities that mean the most to him especially his AIDS foundation. The millions of dollars that he has contributed and raised has funded research that has saved countless lives and continues to do so. He is happily married now and recently adopted a baby boy. He is 64 years old and I just realized I missed his birthday (March 25th). I guess the b-day party invitation got lost in the mail.
Okay, cut to Idol. I was overwhelmingly thrilled at the performances last night!! I got goose bumps on top of goose bumps several times over the course of that 90 minutes. And surprisingly enough, I actually am awarding some new folks today with my three top prizes: Favorite Performance, Original Naturability, & Goose Bump Award. My ultimate favorite performance last night goes to Haley Reinhart who sang “Bennie and the Jets”. I love the song and I thought she really brought something unique to it. I love the rasp in her voice. I’ve always been drawn to Janis Joplin and Stevie Nicks for the same reason. Haley also has to get my Original Naturability award for last night because she took that song to a new place and I admire that. So there it is, two down, one to go! The “Goose Bump” award who I have given to Jacob Lusk two weeks running has to go to Pia Toscano. Last week, Randy told her not to sing another ballad but she didn’t listen. She sang “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” and I nearly cried. She didn’t stray too far away from the original arrangement of the song because it is hard to tinker with perfection; and the arrangement of that song is perfect! But, she inflected on the notes in an amazing and surprising way and I’m kinda speechless over it. You know Randy said he heard a little Mariah and a little Whitney in there; but, I totally disagree. I think what she had was a whole lot of “Pia” in her voice. She will be a legend…mark my words. Furthermore, I am relatively certain at this point that she will be your next American Idol. Sorry, James, I still love you, my little rock and roller!!
You know I don’t know if anyone can relate to this or not; but, when I watch this show it is like an other-worldly experience for me. I really get inspired by it. And on nights like last night I felt like I was literally transported to a concert with seasoned professionals playing for me. Oh, and their average age is 20!! Amazing!! The talent and the poise and the drive of these kids is something to really respect. I am so grateful to be on this ride with them and so excited about their future in the music business. I just believe the benefit of music is so overlooked these days. I mean, it is more than just a beat to be danced to. The music is the accompaniment of all of our memories. You know, Stevie Nicks wrote a song for Joe Walsh (Eagles) when Joe lost his young daughter in 1974 in a car crash when she was being driven to nursery school. The song is called “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You”; and in that song there is a lyric that says, “In all your darkest hours, have you ever heard me sing?” I think that says it all, because in my darkest (& brightest) hours I have heard a lot of people sing and the light came on again (or it shines brighter). Does your light come on when you hear someone sing? I know the answer is yes…you don’t even have to say it!
So without further adieu, I am going to link you to two songs today. One by Elton John and it is called “I Feel Like A Bullet”. It wasn’t one of his most commercially successful songs; but many of us think it is one of his best. I chose it to introduce you to one of his greats that you may not have heard before. You will love it!! The second link is to the Stevie Nicks song that I just referenced………..hope you enjoy!!
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