Wonderful Crazy Night
By: Caroline Miller
What would it be like to witness music history? That was a question and a surreal scenario that I had wondered about many times myself…until I found out the answer.
Last year, I had the incredible opportunity to venture out to Los Angeles, California, and witness Elton John ’s final US concert at Dodger Stadium. As the one year mark of when I witnessed this incredible event has arrived, I wanted to share the story of one of the best trips and nights of my life.
This experience was one that I definitely didn ’t think I would get to experience. I had just seen Elton once, about a month before, in Nashville. Even though I had already been to one of the concerts on the Farewell Tour, I enjoyed the experience so much that I knew I would love to experience it again, if I could. I also knew how special his final concert in LA would be, which made the idea even more incredible. Even though I had a bit of hesitation, I still kept the idea in the back of my mind, as a dream. I would find out, a short while later, that my dream would come true…I would experience the magic of Elton again, and witness this special and momentous event.
The next few weeks were spent filled with excitement, learning about all the events planned in LA for the occasion, surprises planned for the concert itself, watching news segments days before the trip, and just pure anticipation. Soon, the morning of November 19th arrived…the day that my mom and I were to travel to LA. We drove to Nashville, where we would be flying out of…I love that both times that I have been to Nashville have been because of Elton.
A few hours later, we landed in LA, and stepped into LAX. To get to our hotel, we took an Uber and I have a vivid memory of that ride throughout LA, for the very first time. Just looking around at everything around me, in a place that I had heard of but never thought I would visit myself. That first ride often makes me think of a scene in Rocketman, when Elton and Bernie arrive in LA for the first time, and we see Elton in the car, looking around at everything for the first time, as “Amoreena” plays in the background. That song also plays in my head, when I think of that memory now. One of my favorite connections I made with this trip, is having been close in age to Elton, when he made his first LA trip. I was 22, and he would have been 23, just a year younger. I wonder if he must have had a similar feeling as I did, in that very moment…
The next day…November 20th…the day that I had been waiting for had finally arrived. I remember waking up early in the morning and feeling my heart race faster at the thought. I had to remind myself that I was, in fact, there to see Elton, which was a reminder that made me surprise myself. My mom and I spent the day exploring Elton related locations, throughout LA.
The first stop was one of my favorites, The Troubadour, where Elton played his very first US concert. To some people, this may be just a simple location. But to me, I remember walking up to the door and looking at the sign, and just wondering how Elton must have felt when he arrived there, too. Just wondering how that young man must have been feeling, and what was going to happen, after that night. As a young Elton fan, something I like to say is that I couldn ’t make it for his first US show, but I made sure to make it for the last one.
We also got to visit The Webster, a pop-up shop filled with Elton-related items, then stopping at Monty ’s for food and Elton word searches. Our final stop before heading back to our hotel before the concert was Elton ’s star on the Walk of Fame. I stood and looked down at his name, and just like at The Troubadour, I remember thinking about how he must have been feeling, in that moment, upon receiving such an honor, especially at that time in his career.
We made our way back to our hotel, where it was time to have some rest, before the night ahead of us. Before we knew it, the hours went by and the time had arrived. Just like I did before seeing Elton for the first time, I put on my blue jean jacket with patches, each representing a song, and this time, adding flares and a pair of heeled shoes that I had added sparkles to, at the suggestion of needing to be sparkly, since it was Elton, after all.
Fast forward to arriving at the stadium. I remember standing in line waiting to walk further down the path, and just seeing the Dodger Stadium sign in front of me. I suppose that was kind of a reminder that I was really there. Before we knew it, we were inside the stadium and took our seats. My heart was beating so quickly, just like it had before. I don ’t remember when exactly, but sometime at the beginning of the evening, another fan sat in the seat next to me. This fan would turn out to be one of the kindest people, who gave me some of my most special memories, and would turn out to be a real friend, to me, that evening.
I remember listening to the intro for the concert, once again, which meant that Elton was making his way to the stage. From my section, it wasn ’t difficult to tell when he was on stage, because I could see the sparkles on his suit shining from miles away. Listening to him play the first chord of “Bennie and the Jets” is one of the most magical moments I have experienced. It never failed to remind me that this was real and I was actually listening to him play.
The entire evening was so magical, and I could talk about it, in detail, forever. But for now, I ’ll share one of my personal favorite and magical moments of the evening. Getting to listen to “Levon” live again was incredible. This is one of my favorite Elton songs and it blows me away, each time I listen to it, live or not. It was magical enough, listening to him and the band put their all into the song. But do you remember that fan I told you about before, who was next to me? Towards the end of this song, if you could have seen our faces, you could tell that we both were in absolute awe of Elton and listening to the music. I looked at him and he looked at me, and it was like we both knew how we were feeling. I looked over at him and he told me, “Just take it all in!” and I did, in that moment. I took it all in.
Other memorable moments of the night included seeing Elton perform with special guests for the evening. For me, seeing him and Kiki Dee perform “Don ’t Go Breaking My Heart” was so special, because it meant that I had now listened to all of the particular Elton songs I remembered through the years. “Rocket Man” is a song that I still can’t believe I have heard live and “Your Song,” has become a comfort song, for me. Elton bringing Bernie up on stage sparked a reaction of mine that I will never forget. I never started really loving lyrics until listening to Bernie ’s, which made this a special moment for me to experience. As you can maybe tell by my pointing out multiple moments, it would be impossible for me to pick just one moment of the night. The entire evening was simply pure magic all in itself. Elton Magic, to be exact.
Why did this night mean so much, to me? Why did experiencing it with Elton, in particular, mean so much, to me? Why was all of this so special, to me? As a young fan of older music, there are many artists who I would love to see, but can ’t. So many of those artists were a part of historic music events that I would have loved to have witnessed in person. To actually fulfill this dream and get to witness this one myself was so surreal, and still surprises me, when I look back on it, now. Elton has always been present in my life, somehow. He was the artist who I always recognized and loved his songs, but didn ’t know it was him singing. I often saw photos of him and loved them, including the 1975 Dodger Stadium photos, before I knew that they were of him. I am now 23 years old, and when I found out that those songs and photos were him, I couldn ’t believe just how long he had been a part of my life. I truly believe that Elton always being present somehow, is the reason for that sort of special connection.
Just imagine it…getting to fulfill a dream of yours, with someone who has been a part of your life for longer than you thought and who could easily be considered the soundtrack to your life…in the words of Elton himself…
What a wonderful crazy night it was…