A story. At the end of high school, a big arena opened in our home town for a minor league hockey team (which I still don’t understand) and big concerts. One of the first ones was Elton John. About a week before the show, a pair of tickets arrived for me in the mail. Apparently I had won some sort of contest? To this day, I still don’t have any memory of entering, but cool free concert tickets. Except at that point, all I knew about Elton was that he’d done the music for The Lion King and I knew “Tiny Dancer”. I’d recently seen Almost Famous for the first time, and fell in love with that song as a result, but it’d be a few years before I officially designated it as my favorite song (which it still is, but my ultimate version of it is Ben Folds’ cover).
I tried unsuccessfully to sell the tickets, but finally decided it’d be worth going to hear that song performed live. A friend who was not yet out to his parents decided to come with and sit in the nosebleed seats, giving up the baller seat he had with his parents, so he could fully enjoy the show. Cool.
Two other friends had gotten tickets too and were seated across the arena. “Tiny Dancer” was one of the first few songs that played, and I loved it. Shortly thereafter, I got a message from the other friends that they’d left for some reason. I don’t remember much else of the show cause I didn’t really know anything. The concert ends, lights come up, and it’s noisy as everyone is trying to get out and go home. My phone rings. It’s one of the friends who bailed. She’s asking me how the rest of the show was, and I’m having a hard time hearing her. Then this happened:
“Did he play Your Song?”
“Yeah he played my song. You were still here for it.”
“No did he play Your Song?”
“Yes, I told you, It was before you left”
“No, I mean Your Song”
“Yeah, my song. Tiny Dancer. You heard it”
“He has a song called Your Song. Did he play it?”
“Really? Oh I have no idea”
Over time, I’ve of course come to know and love Your Song and so many others of his songs, and I have nothing but love and respect for this man. When he announced the beginning of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour last year, I snatched up tickets for a show a few months back. This looked like it could be my last chance to see this man live, acutally knowing his music, and my final opportunity to hear my all time favorite song. I bawled so hard when Tiny Dancer started playing (I’m sure you can hear me sobbing in the video I took on my phone).
So now there’s a movie about the Rocketman himself, and it was something I was oh so very excited about. The film promised a fantasy element to it and I really wanted to know what that meant. Turns out, it means that this feels more like a Broadway musical than a movie (something I can absolutely get behind). While some songs are performed on stage, many of them are performed by characters “singing their feelings” (but not as cheesy as I made it sound). Sequences were staged and choreographed with a heightened reality to represent what was happening instead of literally showing it. I ate up every second. There was this sense of spectacle that you don’t get in a typical rock biopic, and it was befittting a man known for his theatrics.
Taron Egerton was perfect as Elton, as I expected when I first saw him KILL an Elton song as a singing gorilla. Part of the Broadway vibe meant we had new arrangements so Taron sang everything, in a way that made sense for the story. As soon as I hit my next payday, I am buying that soundtrack. And I’m sure singalong screenings are inevitable, so lemme know when they’re starting and then SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY
Besides Taron, I adored Jamie Bell as John’s lyricist Bernie Taupin. Bernie is as important to the music as Elton, and I enjoyed seeing his side of the story. His sympathetic bestie character stole my heart, and I lit up every time I saw him.
Inevitably, there’s gonna be comparisons to last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody, but I think that’s a bit unfair. They have different approaches, one being more traditional biopic (BoRap), the other being more artistic (RMan). Maybe not quite apples and oranges, but at least red delcious and granny smith. I will say that while I appreciate the artsy approach, I didn’t get a big Live Aid type sequence that made me feel like I need to keep running back to the theater. Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few days I find myself reserving another ticket. I’ll def be doing that for the singalongs tho
Rocketman – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m