book reviews, celebrities, music

Repost: Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart write their life stories in Kicking & Dreaming…

I am reposting this May 2014 review I wrote of Ann and Nancy Wilson’s, book Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock & Roll. For some reason, I never shared it on my blogs, so technically it’s not a repost from them. It was originally published on PopRockNation, and appears here as/is.

I have admired Ann and Nancy Wilson, talented sisters from Seattle, for as long as I can remember. These two women are among the most respected women in rock & roll. They have enjoyed a career that has spanned over four decades and are longstanding members of a band that has had chart topping songs since the 1970s. Heart is one of a very few bands that has enjoyed that kind of success and Ann and Nancy Wilson were integral to making that success a reality.

Since I am myself a singer and I do love my rock & roll, it seemed natural that I’d want to read Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock & Roll. The book was published in 2012, but I just got around to reading it. This book was a lot of fun to read and made me like the Wilson sisters even more than I did before. Ghostwriter Charles R. Cross did a masterful job in making this book sound as if it came straight from the Wilson sisters. When I finished reading, I felt like I’d love to know them as friends.

Back in 2008, Ann Wilson released an album called Hope & Glory. It consisted of duets she did with a number of different famous singers like Elton John, Alison Krauss, Gretchen Wilson, and Wynonna. I remember thinking at the time that the album was very left wing and political, since the songs were mostly covers of anti-war songs. I am married to a man who is about to retire from the Army, so the subject of war is a personal one for me. I bought this album when it first came out and listened to it fairly regularly for a time. At the time, I had no knowledge of the Wilson sisters’ own history with the military. I didn’t know they were Marine brats.

Ann Wilson covers Neil Young’s “War of Man” with help from Alison Krauss.

Ann, Nancy, and Lynn Wilson were the three daughters of John (Dotes) and Lois Wilson, a Marine and his wife. As kids, they had the typical military brat upbringing, with constant moves stateside and abroad. They spent time in Asia, with a couple of years in Taiwan, then came back to California, where Ann had been born in 1950. Eventually, their father left the Marines and became a teacher. The family made a permanent home in Bellevue, Washington, where Ann and Nancy Wilson blossomed into talented musicians who would one day be world famous rock stars.

Kicking & Dreaming is a very engaging book. Each chapter starts with an amusing rundown of what the chapter is about… kind of like a synopsis one might read in a TV Guide. Each sister’s voice is identified before she spins an old story of growing up in the Pacific Northwest, then growing into a music career. The Wilson sisters were fortunate enough to attend schools that promoted the arts, and that helped lead them to learning their craft.

At the age of 12, Nancy Wilson was a good enough guitar player that she was teaching others how to play. Ann was becoming a notable singer, with a big voice that seemed custom made for singing rock & roll. She and Nancy cut their teeth on songs by Led Zeppelin and Elton John. In Heart’s early days, the band’s bread and butter was capably covering songs made famous by other people. They would sneak their original material into their set lists at high school proms and in clubs. Many of the earliest shows were in Canada, because one of Heart’s original members had been a Vietnam draft dodger and couldn’t be in the United States. Consequently, Heart was originally more of a Canadian act… and they even got to play Michael J. Fox’s prom!

Heart sings Magic Man, a song they explain in their book.

The Wilsons are both big fans of rock music, too. There are some charming stories in Kicking & Dreaming about Ann and Nancy growing up, going to concerts, and going on quests to see certain rock worthies in concert. In one chapter, Nancy relates the story of how she borrowed money to buy a ticket from a scalper to see Elton John in concert. The ticket turned out to be fake and she almost got arrested when she tried to use it. Undaunted, she scaled a fence and snuck into the venue to see Elton anyway… and many years later, he became a friend and was the very first person to hear their 2012 album, Fanatic, as they were producing it in a hotel room! Another anecdote is about how Nancy and a friend went on a fruitless quest to find Joni Mitchell’s farm in Canada. Ann and Nancy eventually did meet Joni years later. What struck me about the Wilsons is how grounded and normal they seem; here they are big stars themselves, yet they write of being starstruck when in the presence of people like Paul McCartney.

Kicking & Dreaming doesn’t shy away from the more painful topics, either. Ann and Nancy Wilson had to deal with sexism from music business executives and fellow rock stars alike. In one anecdote, the Wilson sisters write about touring with Lynyrd Skynyrd and, because they were women, being tasked to watch the young son of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s drummer, Artimus Pyle. Pyle basically dropped his kid off with Ann and Nancy and expected them to babysit while he went out on an “errand”. The boy ended up spending the night with the Wilson sisters. Artimus Pyle was later in the 1977 plane crash that killed several members of Lynyrd Skynyrd; he was seriously injured, but ultimately survived.

I also read about Ann Wilson’s struggles with obesity and alcoholism and the health problems that came from those issues. I read about both sisters’ quests for motherhood, which they both achieved, though not through giving birth themselves. They share details about their love affairs and friendships, some of which were with fellow famous people. It made for fascinating reading. I have a lot of empathy for both of them, even as I realize how lucky they are to be so talented and successful. Of course, being talented and successful is no barrier to personal demons and psychic pain; they have both dealt with their fair share. Fortunately, they are close to each other and their older sister, Lynn. They also have many lifelong friends, including Sue Ennis, a songwriter they met when they were just girls. Sue Ennis is a member of the Lovemongers, a band the Wilson sisters formed in the 1990s. She also teaches songwriting and music business classes at Shoreline Community College in Seattle, Washington.

An energetic Heart performance of “Straight On”.

I got a big kick out of the chapter in which Nancy Wilson writes about Sarah Palin’s political campaign ripping off Heart’s big hit, “Barracuda”. When Sarah Palin was a teenager, she played high school basketball and was so aggressive on the court that she was called “Sarah Barracuda”. Naturally, Heart’s big song seemed perfect for her campaign, except Heart never gave permission for her to use the song. No one in the band agreed with Palin’s Republican ideals. Moreover, the song, which was written in the 70s, is about the sleaziness of the music business. Nancy notes that it was kind of ironic that Sarah Palin’s camp would want to use it to promote Palin as a potential Vice President of the United States. In the long run, it turned out Palin’s use of “Barracuda” was lucky, since it got new people listening to it and wanting to know what the song meant.

“Barracuda” in 1977.

Kicking & Dreaming is a fantastic read for Heart fans or for anyone who just likes a rock & roll memoir. Ann and Nancy Wilson have dealt with all kinds of adversity throughout their long careers, yet they still seem like really cool women from Seattle who just want to rock and roll and are lucky enough to get paid to do it for millions of people. I highly recommend their book.

According to Nancy Wilson, Ann and Nancy got paid a lot of money to make this ad!

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard
book reviews

Sometimes daddy issues can lead to rock stardom…

Bill is away this week, so I’ve busied myself by watching movies, reading, and, as of yesterday, listening to my very first audiobook courtesy of Audible. Two of the works have really stuck with me, because they involve rock stars with “daddy issues”. The stars in question? Elton John and James Taylor– both claim they had fathers who were absent in some way. Both are major rock stars dating from the 1970s.

On Sunday night, I finally watched Rocketman, a movie musical loosely based on Elton John’s life. Yesterday, I listened to James Taylor’s brand new audiobook, Break Shot, which is his version of the story of the first 21 years of his life. “Break shot” refers to the first shot in a game of billiards, the one that breaks the balls and scatters them in different directions.

I was already somewhat familiar with both stories because I had read lengthy books about both James Taylor and Elton John. In Elton’s case, I read his recent book, Me, which was his autobiography about his life. In James’s case, it was an extremely long winded book by the late Timothy White called James Taylor: Long Ago and Far Away, published in 2003. I remember not enjoying White’s book very much because it was so long and exhaustive, and included a lot about Taylor’s genealogy, which wasn’t something I was interested in at the time. However, years later, I’m kind of glad I read it, because it gave me insight into one of my favorite performers that has stuck with me all these years.

One thing that struck me about both of these men’s stories is that they have a lot in common. Both are extraordinarily talented musicians whose talent became obvious during childhood. Both are recovering addicts; James to alcohol and heroin, and Elton to alcohol, cocaine, sex, and food. Both are now living sober lives. Both have suffered from depression, perhaps even to the point of being suicidal. And both had very difficult relationships with their fathers. While I would never say that one has to have a difficult childhood with an absentee father to become a famous musician, it was an aspect of both of their stories that really stuck out to me. Actually, it seems like they both had difficult relationships with both parents, although in both of their stories, it was their fathers who were painted more as “bad” and unsupportive. James Taylor goes as far as to say that fathers can be “replaced”, but mothers have to be “there”. I can’t say I agree with his comment on that, but maybe it’s a relic from the generation he grew up in.

Rocketman wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I hadn’t read much about it before I sat down to watch it. I guess I thought it would be more like Bohemian Rhapsody, as in, more of a biographical tale about Elton’s life. It was kind of biographical, but it really appeared to be more of a set up for an eventual Broadway show. I enjoyed it, for the most part, although parts of the movie made me groan a bit.

I wouldn’t go to Rocketman to learn about Elton John’s life, although I did think parts of the film were very entertaining. Taron Egerton is very talented and he captured Elton’s essence in his performance on screen. Elton’s book was revelatory enough. He wrote about growing up in working class Pinner. His father was strict and cold to him. Later, when his parents divorced, Elton’s dad apparently left his life. Although they shared a love of music, according to Elton, his dad wasn’t particularly supportive of his son’s talent. Elton’s mother was apparently exploitative and short tempered, even though they mostly stayed in contact until she died. I have already reviewed Elton’s book, so you can read my thoughts on it here. Today, I’m going to focus on Break Shot.

James Taylor’s story is a bit different, in that unlike Elton John, he grew up in an upper class family. James’s father was Dr. Isaac Taylor– otherwise known as Ike– and there was plenty of money. His mother’s name was Gertrude– Trudy– and she was from Massachusetts. Ike moved the family to Chapel Hill, North Carolina when James was about four or five years old. James grew up in North Carolina, because his father was the dean of the medical school at Chapel Hill. Trudy didn’t like living in the South, and James sort of implied that she resented Ike for forcing her to live there, particularly since Ike was often gone. He spent two years in Antarctica with Navy Seabees when James was a young man, and by the time Ike came home, he had become a stranger to his family. Ike also came home with a terrible drinking problem.

Evidently, addiction is a scourge in the Taylor family. James says that drinking and drugs helped him take a break from himself. I was interested in hearing his thoughts on addiction, especially since alcoholism is a scourge in my own family. He made a comment that really surprised me– that addicts see their drug of choice as a “key” of sorts. Eventually the “key” changes and the substance becomes harmful. Ike’s alcoholism was bad enough that he experienced delirium tremens, which meant that his body had become physically hooked on alcohol to the point at which he needed it to be normal. Nevertheless, Ike Taylor was reportedly a very “functional” alcoholic, much like my father was.

James is one of five very musical siblings, although he also has three half-siblings from his father’s second marriage. He doesn’t speak about his other siblings, probably because he’s old enough to be their father and likely has little contact with them. As someone who grew up in a family with no divorce and no “steps” of “halfs”, it’s hard for me to fathom not having any relationship with my siblings. On the other hand, now that I’m a “stepmother” to adult children my husband hasn’t seen since 2004, I guess I understand it more now than I would have twenty years ago.

Trudy Taylor was very “left leaning” in her politics, which is another reason why North Carolina was probably a difficult place for her to live in the 1950s and 60s. Nevertheless, James says that she was a very involved mother, and she busied herself with raising the children and making a beautiful home on Morgan Creek for them. At the beginning of his audiobook, James mentions his siblings and says he won’t talk much about the ones who are still living: Livingston, Kate, and Hugh.

James’s brother, Alex, died on James’s 45th birthday in 1993. Since Alex is no longer living, James feels free to talk about him. According to James, Alex and their mother, Trudy, fought a lot. Alex had embraced being southern, even adopting a southern accent. James says Alex had a southern accent until he died. Alex was, like James, an addict. He was particularly hooked on alcohol, much as their father was. The night before he died, he’d polished off almost an entire of vodka by himself, which his brother, Livingston, said wasn’t a particularly large amount of booze for him. However, although Alex was never as famous as James or even Livingston was, he was regarded as every bit as talented.

Wow… what a blend… We have lots of musical people in my family, too.
The Taylor siblings perform together… some serious genetic talent here.

Meanwhile, Trudy did all she did to keep the children connected to the North. She’d take them to New York every couple of months and they’d spend summers at Martha’s Vineyard, where James met dear friends who would play major roles in his life. That’s where he met Carly Simon, his first wife and mother of his two oldest children, Ben and Sally, although she only gets a passing mention in Break Shot. James has more to say about his current wife, Kim, whom is apparently the great love of his life who got him back on the path he was destined to be on… back in Boston.

James went to high school at a boarding school in Massachusetts, where he was forced to go to church three times a week. He chose the Episcopalian service, since it was closest to his dorm. It was there that he was first exposed to hymns, since he grew up agnostic. Really, he describes it as agnosticism, but it sounds more like his family was atheist, which was no doubt even weirder for the Taylors in Chapel Hill. Ike was a man of science and had little use for God. The hymns resonated with James and influenced his songwriting, which was a great thing for us. But being in boarding school was depressing for James and he was soon legitimately mentally ill with major depression. He wound up going back to Chapel Hill for his junior year, but he hated being there, too. So in 1965, he started high school at McLean Hospital, a psychiatric facility where the likes of Sylvia Plath and Ray Charles and two of James’s siblings also sought inpatient treatment and finished their high school years. He said that was then he finally stopped feeling so much like he had to live up to expectations of others. Everyone else in his family had wound up being doctors or lawyers, but James and his siblings obviously took after their very creative mother, who had studied voice at the New England Conservatory of Music.

Depression continued to be a problem for James. At one point in the audiobook, James writes about times when Ike was “there” for him. He called home once, out of money and prospects and feeling desperate, and Ike could hear it in his son’s voice that he was feeling desperate. So he drove all the way from North Carolina to Massachusetts to get James and bring him home. That was where the song, “Jump Up Behind Me” came from, on James’s wonderful Hourglass album, which also has a beautiful eulogy to his brother, Alex, “Enough to Be On Your Way”.

Some time later, James was in marriage counseling and the therapist noticed that he seemed to have a lot of “daddy issues”. The therapist recommended that James have his father join one of their sessions. Much to my surprise, James says his dad cooperated, and during their session, Ike apparently talked a lot about how much he disliked his ex wife, Trudy. The therapist asked Ike why, if he hadn’t liked Trudy much, he’d had five children with her. Ike’s response, which James said was supposed to be kind of a sarcastic “fuck you” to the therapist, was something along the lines of “My mother died after giving birth to me, so I figured that was the best way to get rid of my wife.”

I won’t go into the whole story about Ike Taylor’s upbringing because I really think it’s better to listen to the audiobook for that. Suffice to say, I can kind of see where the issues stemmed from in Ike, and how they passed down to the Taylor children. In any case, as I listened to the audiobook, I was a bit shocked by a couple of revelations, at least at first. James clearly had a very complicated relationship with his parents, but especially his father. However, unlike Elton John, James does seem to have a basic level of respect and empathy for the man. It sounds, though, like that empathy was a long time coming, especially since James spent so many years dulling his pain with alcohol and opiates. He says that he’s a different person now, with his wife, Kim, and their twin sons, Rufus and Henry, although it sounded to me like he still aches over his relationship with his dad. He muses that here his father was this high level doctor, much renowned and admired by so many people. And yet, several of his children graduated high school while locked up in a mental hospital.

Having read Carly Simon’s book, Boys in the Trees, in which she wrote of the hurtful way he treated her during their marriage, I can see that there was a time when James was legitimately an asshole. However… I think he came by being an asshole honestly, because as much as he has to say about his father, he also says that he felt pressured and tried very hard to be a “good son” to his mother, especially when she was in a bad mood. It was as if he felt required to be the balance between Trudy and Alex. And he says that he now realizes that children should not be expected to take care of their parents, nor are they responsible for their parents’ problems. He’s definitely right about that.

While I was surprised by some of Taylor’s blunt comments, I also think they kind of made him seem more like a regular person, with foibles like everyone else’s. Throughout my life, I have been comforted by both Elton John and James Taylor as they sang their original, exquisitely crafted songs. I was similarly comforted by Pat Conroy, another famous artist whose work has always spoken to me on many levels… and another person who had some serious “daddy issues” that he parlayed into art. Taylor said that he feels like he’s written the same six or seven songs over and over again throughout his life, meaning that the same themes keep coming up. I can relate, although my work will never reach as many people as his has…

I think Pat Conroy basically wrote the same story repeatedly, too. I still relate on many levels, as do so many other people. So many of us have parental issues that follow us throughout life. It’s just that some people are lucky enough to turn those issues into something that soothes the souls of the masses. Being able to articulate and translate that pain into music, art, dance, drama, or the written and spoken word is a tremendous gift… although, as is the case for so many brilliant artists, that gift comes with a price. It seems that depression, anxiety, and addiction are the scourges that most often plague creative people. Those who are lucky enough find ways to work through the pain. The unlucky ones tend to die young.

Maybe the most surprising comment James had was that for much of his life, he was known as Ike Taylor’s son, James. Eventually, there came a time when Ike Taylor was known as James Taylor’s father. I’m sure that was quite the mindblowing experience for James Taylor, particularly the first time he realized it while sober. I definitely recommend listening to Break Shot, especially if you’re a James Taylor fan. And I liked Rocketman alright, too, although I learned a lot more from Elton John’s autobiography.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon.com when purchases are made through my site.

Standard
book reviews

Just finished Elton John’s sensational tell all book, Me…

Last May, Bill and I went to see Elton John in concert. It was our first and probably last chance to see him, since he’s currently on his Goodbye Yellow Brick Road farewell tour. Of course, as my rock star friend Meryl pointed out when I bought the tickets, Elton has announced his retirement from live performances before. In fact, he recently added a few more shows to the tour that will bring him back to Germany. We saw him play in Stuttgart, even though he did a show in Wiesbaden in June, because when I purchased the tickets in February 2018, we were still living in the Stuttgart area and had no plans to move. But, as we all know, life can throw curveballs, and it turned out we did have to move. Fortunately, Wiesbaden is just a few hours’ drive from Stuttgart, and going there for the show meant we could see our dentist and hit the spring fest, which happened to be going on at the same time.

2018 and 2019 have been my years for concerts. I was never much of a concertgoer before recently, mainly because I didn’t have the money to go to concerts, nor have I ever been one with a pack of friends or boyfriends with whom I could attend shows. Bill and I spent the first years of our marriage rather financially strapped, so the few shows we did see before moving back to Europe, were mostly in nosebleed seats. Don’t get me wrong– it can be perfectly feasible to enjoy a show way up in the rafters. We discovered Robert Randolph and the Family Band in 2004, when they opened for Eric Clapton in Washington, DC. We had a great time, even though Clapton looked like an ant on the stage. But I’m a short person, and I don’t like crowds or being around inconsiderate people, all of which would preclude my attending many big shows.

As for Elton John– well… he put on a pretty good show. It wasn’t the best concert I have ever been to, mainly because he used a lot of videos which I found distracting. Instead of watching him play the piano so masterfully, I was watching videos as if it were 1985. Still, I did enjoy the concert, and ended up downloading a bunch of his albums that I didn’t already own. I didn’t get Leather Jackets, which was an album he made in the 1980s while extremely strung out on cocaine and alcohol. Elton John repeatedly brings that up in his new autobiography, Me, which I just finished reading this morning. I’ve also downloaded the movie about his life, Rocket Man, which came out just after we saw him in concert. I haven’t watched it yet, because our TV room lacks proper seating and I’d rather watch that film on our big, new TV than the one in our bedroom.

All of this is sort of my meandering way of saying that Elton John has been on my mind a lot this year. I was born in 1972, when Elton was becoming a huge star. His music has always been a big part of my life. He was one of the few artists my late father could agree upon when we were riding in the car together. I have always been in awe of Elton John’s musical gifts, even if there are other singer-songwriters who enchant me more. But honestly, having seen Elton play live and read his book, I think I just find him a very entertaining person to whom I can relate. I admire him, not just because he’s a brilliant performer, but because he seems very human to me. He seems even more human to me, especially since I read his sensational, yet often poignant life story.

Elton John, originally named Reginald Dwight, was born to two parents who didn’t love each other. They were of modest means, and lived in a small town. Elton, who in those days was called Reg, did not have a strong kinship with his father, who was often away for work purposes. When Elton’s father was around, they didn’t seem to mesh. Elton describes his dad as emotionally absent and more of a “man’s man”, while Elton was sensitive, awkward, and lonely. His parents split when he was still very young and married other people. Elton got along better with his stepfather, Fred, whom he called “Derf”. He was less involved with his father, who’d had children with his next wife.

Early on, it became clear that Elton John was gifted musically. As a boy, he attended the Royal Academy of Music, where he was forced to play classical pieces. Although Elton didn’t enjoy the classical scene so much, he did write that he’s grateful for the experience of attending such a prestigious school and that the training he received played a big part in his songwriting. It was obvious that Elton was destined for a career in music and, based on his book, he’s never done anything else, even though there were times when he thought he’d never get his break. One time, his mother even suggested that he take a job at a launderette.

Elton John’s story of how he and Bernie Taupin came together is another sign that he was destined to be a musician. He’d just played and failed an audition at a record label when a receptionist decided to pass him some lyrics that had been sent by a man who had also failed the audition. That man turned out to be seventeen year old Taupin, who has written so many of Elton John’s most beloved songs. I enjoyed how Elton explained their unique partnership. Bernie would write poignant lyrics and Elton would compose music. They never worked together in the same room. I have written some lyrics myself, mainly for fun. I think if I were a songwriter, I’d probably want to work the same way. I do better when I’m working alone.

Beyond the obvious components of a life story, Elton John adds some hilarious and sometimes horrifying anecdotes about life as a world renowned entertainer. For instance, he wrote a story about how he’d auditioned a guitar player whom he’d declined to hire, not just because he didn’t mesh with him musically, but because the guitar player had confessed to enjoying fucking chickens up the ass and then decapitating them for a sexual charge. Elton adds wryly that he didn’t know if the guitar player had a very strange sense of humor or if the guy’s sex life was extremely disturbing. Either way, he couldn’t picture himself or his bandmates feeling comfortable sharing a hotel room with a guy who got his jollies in that way.

I had already read some excerpts of Elton John’s book through the Daily Mail, which has been sharing bits and pieces of the book for weeks now. A lot of the snippets from the Daily Mail were pretty salacious, but I was still surprised by a few of the stories Elton includes. What really struck me about Me, though, is how entertaining and personal the writing is. It was as if I were sitting in a room, listening to Elton tell his stories in the most hilarious way. I like the fact that he owns up to his shortcomings and is brutally candid about some things. I can be pretty candid myself, and I’m a pretty straight shooter. So is Elton. We have both found that being too straightforward can be detrimental in many ways, particularly if you’re dealing with people who are shady. But, I think in the long run, it’s best to be authentic. I feel like Elton’s book is very authentic and candid. I liked that he owned up to being an asshole at times– er, arsehole– Britishisms are another prominent feature in his book. Elton is a drug addict. Cocaine was his drug of choice. He is an alcoholic. He also suffers from an addiction to food and was bulimic for awhile. He sought treatment for all three conditions about thirty years ago. I appreciated his honesty about his experiences with addiction, especially how alcohol and drugs turned him into an asshole. I also respect that he’s tried so hard to help others overcome their addictions, including many people who didn’t want to be helped.

I was curious about what people had to say about Elton’s book. I usually start with the negative reviews on Amazon, some of which were pretty laughable. One person complained that the book had a ripped cover. Another complained about Elton’s comments about Michael Jackson, which I will admit, might have seemed kind of tacky (although frankly, I think he was being straight up about his experiences). Some people wrote that Elton included too much about songwriting and not enough about his personal life. Other people complained about the opposite; Elton was too open about his sex life and drug use, and not forthcoming enough about his musical skills. From what I gathered, Elton doesn’t have to think much about creating. It all just comes out. He even wrote that he doesn’t even think about songwriting when he’s not actually doing it. If that’s really his experience, I respect it, although it’s kind of mind boggling.

I found Elton’s comments about trying to work with Tina Turner kind of surprising. Apparently, she was a huge diva and behaved like a bitch to Elton and his band, even though she used to sing his song, “The Bitch Is Back” all the time back in the day. It turned out that their work styles were simply incompatible. Elton likes to improvise and not necessarily do everything perfectly rehearsed, while Tina likes to have the band playing exactly the same way every time. I respected that after Elton basically called Tina a bitch, he acknowledged that she might be that way due to the way she’d been treated by Ike Turner and others in the music industry who ripped her off and abused her. I can give him credit for realizing that about Tina Turner, even as he also kind of throws her under the bus.

One person wrote that Elton John had a book written about him by a ghostwriter that was mostly the same stuff. If I had read that book, I might have agreed with the reviewer that Me is superfluous. But since I hadn’t read the other book, this one was interesting, and often laugh out loud funny. I especially laughed when Elton wrote about writing music for a play in which there was a song called “Only Poofs Do Ballet”. I had never heard of the British slang term for a homosexual “Poof” until I married Bill, who uses it a lot. And there were a few stories that mad me feel a little sad… or even a bit in solidarity with Elton. I can relate to feeling ugly, misunderstood, and anxious. I can relate to having a short temper and difficult family relationships. I can even relate to some of his stories about addiction, depression, and eating disorders, as these are things have touched my life, too. I don’t know if Elton and I would get along if we were to meet, since he seems to be eccentric and temperamental, and I’m kind of like that, too. But deep down, he seems like a kind, introspective man who isn’t afraid to be a bit tacky and over the top. I’m glad he’s finally found love, gotten his life on track, and has the family he’s always dreamt of having. He’s a very lucky man, and he seems to know it. I respect him for that.

Anyway, I liked Me, and would recommend it. Some people might be offended by some of the stories, and some have accused Elton of name dropping and bragging, although I can’t imagine how someone as famous as Elton John is could be guilty of “name dropping”, when he literally keeps company with the likes of Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Freddie Mercury, and members of The Rolling Stones. Those folks are his peers, although I was kind of charmed when Elton described what an honor it was to sing with Ray Charles. I also enjoyed his comments about Ryan White and his family, and how much they did to help people with AIDS at a time when people were so frightened and ignorant.

So… if you are inclined to read about Elton John’s life and haven’t read the previous book, I think you should check out Me. But be prepared for some sensational stories that might blow your mind.

As an Amazon Associate, I get small commissions through orders placed via my site.

Standard
musings

Happy June!

Don’t look now, but Joe Walsh and I have the same hairdo… right down to the color. I guess we both quit trying to mess with Mother Nature.

Once again, I’m kind of devoid of topics to write about today. I could write about the tragic shootings in Virginia Beach. That would actually be kind of relevant, since I grew up about an hour away from Virginia Beach. But, to be honest, I didn’t get a chance to read much about it. Sadly, it’s getting to the point at which these shootings are almost becoming kind of normalized. I don’t feel quite as shocked by them as I used to, so I don’t know much about what happened, other than twelve people losing their lives and some people getting injured. I wonder what it’s going to take before something is done about the crazy gun toters in the United States. It’s getting totally ridiculous.

I could write another political post, but I’m in kind of a good mood and don’t want to spoil it. The weather is gorgeous today and we have enjoyed a beautiful outing to Bacharach, capping off a great week in which we saw the Eagles and enjoyed a couple of days in Cologne. Tonight, Elton John is playing in Wiesbaden. We saw him about three weeks ago in Stuttgart, so we’re avoiding the city tonight. May was a nice month for the concerts alone… realizing that Joe Walsh and I share the same hairstyle.

There are other things I could write about… several things that are weighing on my mind. Unfortunately, I have come to learn that some people can’t respect other people’s space or privacy. So… I will probably have to write about what’s on my mind later. For now, I think I’ll go hang out with Bill and enjoy what’s left of our Saturday. I love this time of year. So much to do and see, and we don’t have to go far to do or see it.

Standard
silliness

Matt Lucas!

When we lived in Germany the first time, I got hooked on the popular British sketch comedy show, Little Britain. I believe I started watching it because it was offered as a free episode on iTunes and I got hooked on the quirky British humor. Little Britain starred Matt Lucas and David Walliams. Matt Lucas is a rotund, openly gay British guy with alopecia. His hairlessness makes it easy for him to dress in drag. A lot of his Little Britain characters were female.

This morning, while I was thinking about what I wanted to write about today, I happened across this Australian comedy show, Kath & Kim. I stopped on it because I saw Matt Lucas’s face in the still.

I love him… he’s hilarious!

He plays the role of a gossipy British woman to the tee. I think it’s especially funny when he gets irate.

Yes… I identify with this sentiment very much!

In May 2013, Bill and I took a cruise from Rome to Athens. One of our stops was at Capri, a beautiful Italian seaside town. We walked up a hill to get to the town. I was coming down with a nasty cold. When we reached the top, we decided to have lunch at this restaurant that overlooked the sea and the town square. Our waiter was the spitting image of Matt Lucas. He even mentioned it to us, although he was quick to tell us he wasn’t gay. Recently, I wanted to find the name of that restaurant, since I forgot to notice it when we ate there. It was very expensive and we liked the food, although others in the know say it’s an overpriced tourist trap. I knew I’d be able to find the place if I mentioned Matt Lucas. Sure enough, more than a couple of people mentioned the waiter who was a dead ringer for him. The restaurant, by the way, is called Ristorante Isidoro. It gets 3.5 stars.

I just Googled “Capri, Italy, restaurants, Matt Lucas“. Sure enough, the very first result is this one. I’m sure the restaurant enjoys having that waiter on staff. If I recall correctly, his personality was not unlike Matt Lucas’s on Little Britain. I’m actually sitting here dreaming of a trip to Italy or somewhere else warm and interesting. I really need a few days out of here to clear my head. I do love living in Germany, but sometimes the culture can feel a little bit oppressive and heavy.

Incidentally, our new landlord came over last night to talk to Bill. It was like night and day. He was genuinely friendly and wanted to talk about cruises. It’s easy to see that his focus isn’t just about money and he’s very laid back. I think we’ll ultimately be a lot happier with him, even if I do miss having a nice area to walk my dogs. I also think he will treat us fairly. Or, at least I hope he does.

I want to read his book! I like how he parlayed his baldness and weight into a career.

If you haven’t seen Little Britain, you should watch it. Especially if you know anything about British life. I liked it, not just for the humor, but because my earliest memories are of England and watching it reminds me of that time.

Our Elton John tickets are arriving today!
Vicky Pollard was inspired by a little boy!
Standard