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Elton John – Rocket Man (Piano solo) with sheet music

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Elton John – Rocket Man (Piano solo) with sheet music

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Excerpt from the book: “Me, Elton John (autobiography)” (also available in the Library)

When the farewell tour was announced, a number of journalists had written pieces suggesting that there was absolutely no way I would really retire. They supported this argument with extensive knowledge of my history and impressive psychological insights into my character: tried to
retire before, addictive personality, born entertainer, music obsessive.

They could have supported it even more strongly by repeating what I’d said at the press conference, which was that I had no intention whatsoever of actually retiring from music, or even live performances. All I said was that I wasn’t going to schlep around the world anymore: one last huge tour – 300 gigs over three years, covering North and South America Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia, the kids getting a tutor and coming with us – and that’s that.

It isn’t the end. I was excited by the fact that stopping touring would give me more time to do different things. I want to write more musicals and more film scores. I want to spend time working with the AIDS Foundation, especially in Africa. I want to stand up for the LGBTQ community there, to try and talk to politicians in Uganda or Kenya or Nigeria and do something to change the way people are treated. I want to
collaborate with different artists.

I want to stage a huge exhibition, covering my whole career, maybe even think about opening a permanent museum, so people can see some of my
art and photography collections. I want to spend more time making albums, and to make them in the way I used to at the start of my solo career: get Bernie to spend time writing a lot of lyrics and develop a stockpile of material.

I haven’t gone into the studio with a big hoard of songs to choose from since Madman Across the Water, forty-eight years ago – I’ve just turned up and written on the spot, like the musical version of a painter with a blank canvas.

I want to go back to writing without recording what I’m doing, the same way we made Captain Fantastic, memorizing what I come up with as I go along. I want to play live, but much smaller shows, where I can concentrate on playing different material.

If there’s a problem with writing songs like ‘I’m Still Standing’, or ‘Rocket Man’, or ‘Your Song’ it’s that they become so huge; they develop a life of their own and overwhelm everything else you do. I love those songs to death, but I’ve written other songs I think are as good as them, that exist in their shadow, and I’d like to give those other songs a moment in the spotlight.

But most of all, I want to spend time being … well, normal, or as normal as I can ever hope to be. Less time on the road means more time doing the school run, more Saturday afternoons taking the kids to Pizza Express, or round Daniel’s, the department store in Windsor – things the boys enjoy,

I live and have lived an extraordinary life, and I honestly wouldn’t change it, even the parts I regret, because I’m incredibly happy with how it has turned out. I obviously wish I’d just kept walking when I saw John Reid chopping out coke in the studio, rather than sticking my nose in – in every sense of the phrase – but then, maybe I had to go through all that to
end up where I am now. It’s not where I expected to be at all – married to a man, a father of two, both things that seemed impossible to me not that long ago.

But that’s the other lesson my ridiculous life has taught me. From the moment I was ushered out of a failed audition and handed an envelope of
Bernie’s lyrics as I got to the door, nothing has ever really turned out how I thought it would. My history is full of what ifs, weird little moments that hanged everything.

What if I’d been so upset by failing my audition that I’d dumped Bernie’s envelope in a bin on the way to the station? What if I’d stood firm and not gone to America when Dick James told me I should? What if Watford had beaten West Bromwich Albion that Saturday afternoon in the early nineties and lifted my spirits, so that I didn’t feel the need to call a friend and beg him to bring some gay men to dinner?

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What if I hadn’t noticed Lev at the orphanage in Ukraine? Where would I be now? Who would I be now? You can send yourself crazy wondering. But it all happened, and here I am. There’s really no point in asking what if? The only question worth asking is: what’s next?

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