Friday, January 3, 2020

Review of the Elton John autobiography "ME"

Elton John’s Your Song on a cassette copy of the Elton John album captured my interest in the early 1970s when I was but a young teenager. Then came Tumbleweed Connection, 17-11-70,  Madman Across the Water, Honkey Ch√Ęteau, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, the quintessential Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, followed by Caribou, and Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. I owned some on cassette and some on vinyl. Sometime during those teenage years, I pilfered a vinyl copy of the Friends soundtrack from my sister’s record collection and eventually found a copy of the original vinyl Empty Sky in a discount record bin. Elton John’s  music formed a major part of the soundtrack to my adolescence and I have been a fan ever since.

I have seen Elton John in concert only once. It was a rainy night in an outdoor venue in the late 1990’s somewhere near DC. The rain never stopped. The ground we were sitting on turned into a muddy mess. It seemed like he played a longer set than I imagined he usually did,  perhaps to reward his fans for sitting through and enjoying the show in such miserable conditions. I was wet, soaked to the bone, but not disappointed.

I went to see the movie Rocket Man the day it opened in a theater near where I live. It was not the movie I was expecting to see but I liked it. I wish, however, that it had taken the story further along Elton’s career path and life.

I received Elton’s autobiography ME for Christmas and started reading it a few days later. I have now finished it. I loved it. It is a clearly written 354 page “Tell All” overview of his life and career filled with drugs, rock stars, celebrities, a little sex, and some introspection boarding on the spiritual. I could not put it down. I laughed while reading some sections and nearly cried while reading others. I tried to remember where I was and what I was doing when he narrated specific incidents and periods, so it invited me to reflect on my own life and work.

I might be an Elton John fan, but I am not obsessive about him. I have never joined an Elton John fan club or read about him in the tabloids, but I still listen to his music, especially his early work. I read a lot in ME that I did not know about even though I was familiar with the rough outline of his stardom. ME filled in the blanks I was unaware of in an enjoyable way.

The 354 pages of ME include twenty-four pages of mostly color photographs, many of which include other famous rock stars and personalities. Perhaps best of all, there is a seventeen-page index which I think I will use to go back to read his comments about his early recordings.

If you like reading autobiographies of famous personalities, especially rock stars, or have been a fan of Elton John, ME is a must read.