I’ve never obsessed over Elton John quite like I have over other favorite artists of mine, but that all changed after seeing the film Rocketman.
It takes more than musical greatness to reel me in; I have a pattern of connecting with artist personas before investing myself fully in their music. For me, it’s all about their stories. I enjoy learning about the factors that went into making the music — at the specific time it was made.
Rocketman opened up an entire world for me. It was not a story I expected, and I honestly didn’t know much about Elton’s struggles before seeing the film. If I can be even more honest, I didn’t expect it to hit me as hard as it did. His story is one of loneliness — something that triggered some uneasy memories from my childhood and family life. But by understanding the pain he felt, during the time he created such beloved music, I am now able to connect with his messages more deeply, thus allowing his artistry to have a genuine effect on me and the things I have been through.
As I sit here listening to my favorite Elton John album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, after learning about the trauma he’s experienced in his life, I feel empowered and inspired to discover the inner workings of my own heart in the most creative ways possible. Life is all about putting yourself out there; taking a risk, and I believe this album is a perfect representation of that process.
The first song, Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, is an epic introduction that sets an excitable tone for what’s about to happen on this album. I wish I could have seen this one performed live. I am told by my friends who have seen Elton John live in concert, that it’s a favorite of his to play. I feel really sad I missed him on his farewell tour, and I hope I get the chance to see him live in concert one day.
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is so different from what I usually listen to — and that’s precisely why I fell for it. Throughout my life-long relationship with music, I’ve managed to stay open minded and ready for anything. I think that’s why getting to know Elton’s music has had such a magical hold on me. Candle in the Wind came into my life long before I listened to it as a part of this album, but it’s even more pleasurable attached to this set. I’ve always been fascinated with Marilyn Monroe, and I enjoy listening to Elton do these types of “odes” to the people he admired.
After seeing Rocketman, my favorite album sounded a little bit different to me. I think I’m listening more. I’ve Seen That Movie Too has become my new favorite song off the album. Even though he is singing about a lover who has wronged him, I appreciate the personal responsibility he holds in his voice. The way he sings the song makes him come off very self aware and mature. I’ve always felt very in tune with my own emotions, even if I don’t quite understand them all the time. I feel like I can relate to Elton John in that way.
I love the stories that Elton and Bernie Taupin create. They really paint fans a perfect picture of what I can only call a limitless fantasy. Elton’s live performance of Bennie and the Jets was an intense scene in the movie. No spoilers, but I think its incredible how songs like this one travel through time and place so fluidly. Just thinking about how many times he has sung this song live, and how he must have been feeling, or what he was going through emotionally each time, is mind-blowing.
I like how Elton John doesn’t always sing about himself. He sings about, and directly to, other people. The tempo transitions from hard to soft makes All The Girls Love Alice a very fun song to listen to, and the slowdown at the chorus is one you have to sing along with. The charming serenade to his Sweet Painted Lady feels like a nod to the earlier released Tiny Dancer. In many of his songs, Elton expresses his love for women, and encourages them to be confident and content with themselves. Many of his songs make me feel good about myself, and I think that’s why so many people love listening to him.
I love a good honest anthem. In Social Disease, Elton doesn’t make himself out in the best light. But guess what? Nobody’s perfect. We all have things we don’t like about ourselves, and his bold recognition of them, along with his upfront country western attitude makes this one a true in-your-face rock and roll song. It really is impressive how he and Bernie brought forth so many different sounding songs throughout their career.
Whenever I really start to get to know a musical talent as profound as Elton John, a fire starts within me. The entire ‘falling in love’ process makes me feel substantial; like my own feelings have purpose. I’ve always loved sharing this with people, and I hope doing so ignites some sort of passion within whoever is reading.