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 Château, 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.

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