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    The Yellow Brick Road or a Walk Down Musical Memory Lane

    yellowbrickBy Dr. Timothy Seelig

    Elton John’s music has often been described as providing the “sound- track of our lives.” And that it has. There are very few artists who have remained at the top of their creative game for five decades—Barbra, Cher, and Julie (Andrews), to name a few. But what sets Elton apart is the fact that not only did he perform the soundtrack, he also composed it!

    The story of why we selected the music of Elton John falls into three sections: personal, musical, and production. Sorry if Section One is TMI, but I have three personal reasons for Elton.

    Revelation #1: Dating Myself

    Sir Elton’s first album came out in 1969, the year I graduated from high school! At that time, I was completely absorbed in church, doing my very best straight impersonation. The music of this young, rebellious rocker was not in our hymnal! I was an instant, if closeted, fan.

    Revelation #2: Green with Envy

    The young, handsome, and outrageous Elton John had everything that was missing from my life: rockin’ music, bedazzled spectacles, feather boas, crazy hats, outrageous costumes, and what appeared to be the most glamorous life imaginable.

    Revelation #3: Hotness Icon

    In his early years, he sported plunging necklines that would make J.Lo look demure. True confession: I actually cut a few of those early pictures of my new idol Elton out of magazines and kept them hidden in my desk drawer. Some even dubbed his hairy chest a “shag carpet”! The only place I had seen that much hotness was on episodes of “Bonanza.” Woof. But I digress.

    The last time I heard Sir Elton in concert was last fall in San Jose with my husband, 45 years after my first introduction. Things have changed since 1969. But he hasn’t changed much. He sang, played, and jumped around the stage like a 20-year-old for two solid hours with no break. Awe-inspiring. We are planning to bring that same energy in a few weeks!

    Now let’s talk about the music. Fun, fun and more fun.

    There are obviously too many songs to list—wild and crazy, beautiful and haunting. Love songs that serenaded our most intimate moments and the breakups that followed. Irresistible tunes that got us out of our seats and dancing in the aisles. Stage and screen music beyond compare, such as The Lion King and Aida. We’ll sing them all.

    In addition, he has chronicled our shared path through the most indelible moments of our lives. We have chosen three of these.

    In 1992, his writing partner, Bernie Taupin, penned “The Last Song,” shortly after the death of Freddie Mercury due to an AIDS-related illness. The song was used during a closing montage of the 1993 film And the Band Played On.

    In 1997, helping the entire world mourn the loss of one of its brightest lights, a rewritten and rerecorded version of the 1973 hit song “Candle in the Wind” was released as a tribute to his dear friend, the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

    In 2001, Bernie and Elton created “American Triangle” in response to the senseless murder of young, gay Matthew Shepard. The title of this song refers to the victim and his two assailants. It is a stunningly haunting piece seldom performed.

    Enough about the music and me. Let’s finally talk about the production.

    All of the things Sir Elton has brought to the stage for five decades (and I so wanted in my life) will be there—multiplied by about 275: roof-raising music, bedazzled spectacles, feather boas, crazy hats, outrageous costumes, choreography and a killer band. We’ll sing more than 30 of your all-time favorite Elton John songs.

    But you won’t just be listening. No Siree! You’ll be singing along! Do you sing only in the shower or car? Not to worry. There will be 2,000 folks singing with you! Don’t know the words? No problem. We will project them on the screen above our heads!

    It’s not a concert, it’s an event of huge proportions! Please wear something outrageous, and get ready to rock. Most of all, get ready for a walk down memory lane—or the proverbial yellow brick road—with us as your guides.

    When Sir Elton John sings, “I’m Still Standing,” he really means it. And so will all of us.

    Dr. Timothy Seelig is the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.