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Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Back to the [safhkafsl'kasd] in the woods, back to the [zcxopupox] tower..."

About a week and a half ago a good friend comped me a couple of tickets to see Elton John live at the Ramat Gan Stadium.  Needless to say Zahava and I jumped at the chance!

It's a little bit funny, but if you asked me to compose a list of my top 10 favorite pop artists I might forget to include Elton John.  But when you mention his name, so many hits come to mind that are an integral part of the soundtrack of my life (especially during the emotional formative years) that he really should eclipse almost anyone else on the list.

Needless to say, the show was incredible.  From the first haunting notes of 'Funeral for a Friend' to the last encore ('Your Song'), there were nearly three solid hours containing pretty much every one of his hits spanning the length and breadth of his career.

After the first few songs he walked out to the edge of the stage and made a point of saying "Shalom Israel... nothing could keep me away!"... and went on to add something to the affect of 'Music and musicians are supposed to unite people, not divide them.  I don't cherry pick my conscience'.  The response was a solid wall of sound and amounted to a full body embrace by the capacity crowd of some 50,000 screaming Israelis.

And what a crowd!  I love Israeli audiences.  Those who participate in cultural boycotts of the Jewish State will never know the incredible generosity of the audiences here.  We come out prepared to fall in love all over again.  We sing and dance along with the music unabashedly and unreservedly.  We shower the performers with adulation and praise... and call them back for as many encores as they can manage.

But throughout this concert there was an added level of enjoyment (for me, at least). 

You see, the lyrics to Elton John songs tend to be maddeningly dense and obscure.  If you haven't studied the words on the record jackets or downloaded them from the internet, even a native English speaker will be hopelessly adrift trying to sing along with some of his trickier songs.  Of course, that never stopped anyone I know from singing along to their favorite EJ songs on the radio... knowing full well their rendition was full of misheard lyrics.

But I have to tell you, some of the Israelis around us at the concert came up with far more creative lyrics for some of Elton John's songs than I ever managed.  And the greatest part... in that wonderful, giving, united stadium full of religious, non-religious, Jews, Arabs, right wingers, left wingers, Israelis and tourists, young and old... it didn't matter a bit.

For those few hours, every last one of us got to relive the joy of singing along with the radio in our favorite car at the happiest times of our lives while the air around us was thick with the richest memories of our lives.

That is what music is supposed to do.  Thank you Elton John.  Your gift truly is your song!

Posted by David Bogner on June 27, 2010 | Permalink

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He's the ONE AND ONLY! Awesome man. Glad you enjoyed.

Posted by: val | Jun 27, 2010 7:43:27 PM

I felt similarly after the Metallica concert last month. "Religious, non-religious, Jews, Arabs, right wingers, left wingers, Israelis and tourists, young and old" screaming "Seek and Destroy."

Posted by: ADDeRabbi | Jun 27, 2010 8:04:50 PM

... so what about a nod to Bernie Taupin- the one who wrote the words for E J for his first 25 years ?

Posted by: britac | Jun 27, 2010 8:27:00 PM

Those of us who live in or near San Francisco, or who are otherwise devotees of the SF Chronicle's singularly wise and witty columnist Jon Carroll, know "misheard lyrics" as "Mondegreens." The woman who coined that phrase is named Sylvia somethingorother, I believe, and it stems from her having understood a couplet from a poem heard in childhood as "They have killed the Earl of Murray/And Lady Mondegreen." Poor Lady Mondegreen, she thought, what did she ever do to deserve her unhappy fate?

Of course, what they had done was killed the Earl of Murray/ And laid him on the green. And so it goes.

Posted by: bratschegirl | Jun 27, 2010 8:42:35 PM

It is great that he went to Israel and your description of the audience makes me wish I had been there.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Jun 27, 2010 11:45:52 PM

Elton John's music has been a part of my life as well - since 1970. And he maintains a residence here in Atlanta.

SWMBO and I had the good fortune to see him perform (along with James Taylor) in Houston some 15 years ago. It was a magical evening. Glad you were able to see the show; as always, thank you for sharing your impressions and thoughts on same!

Posted by: Elisson | Jun 28, 2010 5:36:49 AM

The Lovely Wife (tm) and I have seen Sir Elton with Billy Joel on a number of occasions. Still haven't forgiven him for "Aida," though...

Israelis singing English lyrics, even when they get them right, are an endless source of amusement. I bet I'd die of laughter if I were ever at a Rush concert in Israel "(Beegeen zee day wiz a friendly voiz...")

Posted by: efrex | Jun 28, 2010 9:54:52 PM

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