By MIKE VINSON
This past Monday (June 16), three young ladies, early 20s, casually dressed, looking a tad frazzled, walked into a local restaurant and were seated at a booth just across the aisle from me.
It was early morning, and judging from their attire and accents, my initial guess was they were out-of-towner “Roonies” who had attended, and were returning home from, the 2014 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, held June 12-15 in Manchester, Tennessee.
Though I didn’t attend the 2014 Bonnaroo Festival (never have attended one, for that matter), seeing these three gals caused me to go back in time approximately 40 years, and the reason was Sir Elton John. He was the headliner/closing act for the 2014 Bonnaroo Festival. A quote from renowned Murfreesboro Post music writer & critic Travis Swann:
“Elton John brought the party as well for his first American festival appearance. After this amount of time, one would think he had been in a position such as this before, but Sir Elton was on his A-game performing tracks from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and also brought out fellow piano man Ben Folds.”
Here’s the “back story” for my time travel as it relates to Sir Elton John and Bonnaroo:
It was spring 1974, and I was a sophomore at Middle Tennessee State University/MTSU. Having opened in late 1972, Murphy Center (short for Charles M. Murphy Athletic Center) had replaced the old Alumni Gym as MTSU’s main athletic department building, as well as serving as a venue at which to hold major music concerts and other events that drew throngs of spectators.
Luckily for me, as of spring 1974, Elton John (not yet “Sir” Elton, hadn’t been knighted by the Queen) was in the middle of his original Goodbye Yellow Brick Road tour, and Murphy Center, in Murfreesboro, TN, was one of his tour stops.
With Murphy Center packed, I recall Elton taking the stage in wild sunglasses with over-sized rims that projected a revolving kaleidoscope of colors, and wearing a jumpsuit-type outfit that, best I recall, had the word “Hercules” embroidered on it.
Taking a seat at his Grand Piano (maybe a Baby Grand), Elton was casually talking to the audience, and before you knew it . . . BAM . . . he was in the middle of his hit song “Elderberry Wine,” his top-notch band of Davey Johnstone on lead guitar, Dee Murray on bass, and Nigel Olsson on drums backing him up.
In promotional sync with his tour theme, Elton performed many hits from his Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album, among them: “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Candle in the Wind,” “Funeral for a Friend,” etc.
However, the highlight for me was when Elton John returned to the stage for an encore and shook the rafters of Murphy Center with a blistering version of “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”! As I’ve stated before, Elton John’s performance that 1974 night at Murphy Center was as good as any—if not the best—concert I’ve ever attended . . . priceless!
Now back to the three “Roonie” gals at the restaurant:
As the gals ate and talked, I eavesdropped a bit and listened to them rehash the previous three days. One said something about “getting too drunk” one day, and that “Jack White jammed, man!” Still, another one said she “really dug” Sir Elton John’s closing performance.
Then . . . now listen to this . . . the third member of this female triad, who never commented on the music at all, came off with something along the lines of, “I would’ve given anything to have gotten a ‘selfie’ with Kim Kardashian,” who, in fact, was at the 2014 Bonnaroo Festival to support rapper-husband Kanye West, who performed.
It hit me like a ton of bricks! I silently asked myself, how do you interfuse the music of Elton John and a “selfie” with Kim Kardashian?
Answer: New age, new ideas, new people, things change over time.
Though I’ll never say “goodbye” to the Yellow Brick Road, I would say "hello" to Kim Kardashian.