Or should I say, for Sir Elton Hercules John? I mean, if you’re going to give yourself a stage name, be sure to include a killer middle name.
Last week I went to the cinema to see Rocketman (Dexter Fletcher, 2019) and – you guessed it – I adored it! I’ve loved Elton John’s music for many years now and this hyper-real take on a rock biopic was right up my street.
Film critic Mark Kermode said that it reminded him of the music hall aesthetic of Ian Drury biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (Mat Whitecross, 2010) and I can totally see that. It’s a life story with the classic rise and fall and rise again structure, told to the tune of Elton’s greatest hits with all the glam rock aesthetic that they require. It is not a jukebox musical… OK, maybe it is… but in a really good way.
There is no character called Scaramouche being asked to do the Fandango.
It has such heart and tenderness; it is raw and honest despite moments of Technicolor spectacle. Some of the bigger song and dance numbers stopped my breath but I do rather love a big song and dance number. For those of you who have seen it, Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting, am I right? The quieter introspective moments set to song added a level of poignancy and that ubiquitous ‘writing the hit song seemingly out of thin air as everyone stops in their tracks and acknowledges your genius’ sequence is rather lovely too.
I’ve been on a bit of an Elton John kick ever since, listening to the greatest hits and exploring some of the albums that I have not listened to.
Of course I would love to bake a cake for Elton John. He is entirely fabulous. He is too much; the costumes, the parties, the shopping!
I’ve also been thinking about Marilyn Monroe a great deal over the past week as I recorded and edited Episode Thirteen of my podcast Fantasy Bakes. I tried to explain how I have idolised this iconic actress for as long as I can remember, how I have stolen her style, and how I wish that I could have been her friend. It all gets a little problematic when trying to explain how I feel about this facsimile of a human who will forever remain an image upon my screen as I now have the good fortune of turning a year older than she ever did. She would have been 93 last week, had she lived beyond 36.
All of this is equally heartbreaking and very silly – I never knew her, so how can I hope to know anything of her, and why should I feel so strongly that I wish I could have been a friend to her?
This is where Elton John comes in. His song Candle in the Wind expresses so perfectly and so succinctly the feelings that a viewer can have for someone on the screen. I guess I should really credit Elton’s collaborating lyricist Bernie Taupin for these words. They are equally responsible for this song which means so much to me.
Goodbye, Norma Jean.
Though I never knew you at all,
You had the grace to hold yourself,
While those around you crawled.
They crawled out of the woodwork,
And they whispered into your brain.
They set you on the treadmill,
And they made you change your name.
Loneliness was tough,
The toughest role you ever played.
Hollywood created a superstar,
And pain was the price you paid.
Even when you died,
Oh, the press still hounded you.
All the papers had to say,
Was that Marilyn was found in the nude.
Goodbye, Norma Jean,
From the young man in the 22nd row,
Who sees you as something more than sexual,
More than just our Marilyn Monroe.
And it seems to me you lived your life,
Like a candle in the wind.
Never knowing who to cling to,
When the rain set in.
And I would’ve liked to know you,
But I was just a kid.
Your candle burned out long before,
Your legend ever did.
I cannot hear that song without getting a huge lump in my throat. It really expresses a feeling that I identify with perfectly. If Elton John and Bernie Taupin felt this way about Marilyn then I get them both, I see them both, and I would love to bake a cake for them both.
Elton John is also the perfect example to anyone who has ever been told that they will never find ‘real’ love in a gay relationship because you absolutely will.
A great big wonderful Pride rainbow-coloured ‘fuck you’ to anyone who still holds that opinion.
As he embarks upon a farewell tour which is scheduled to last three years, I would love to bake a cake for Elton John for being a fabulous example of artistic excess and a fantastic performer. Enjoy your retirement when you finally get around to it. I’ll be round with a slice of cake if you would stick the kettle on.