I really have never been much into Elton John’s music, even though he is a great singer and song artist, as his style and genre just hasn’t ever been my cup of tea so to speak. But that being said, it’s funny how a movie can change all that and create a profound appreciation for someone that was never there before. After catching an early release of “Rocketman”, a biopic about Elton John’s life, starring Taron Egerton as the famed musician, I suddenly find myself seeing him and his music in a totally different light.
For years, I overlooked this man who screamed flamboyancy and the words “pay attention to me” in any appearance I ever saw him in. On some level for me, it was always a turn off and probably a big reason why I avoided listening to his music more than not. Yet, after watching “Rocketman”, I now understand a lot more about why he became such a showy person. And truth be told, by the end of the movie, I saw myself in his very shoes.
Having grown up in a household where he was neglected, unloved, and unappreciated by both his mother and father, and spending years of his life deep in the closet, Elton John created a stage persona that was essentially a chameleon-like response solely in an attempt to erase that painfulness of his childhood. Sadly, I know all too well about becoming a chameleon, as I did it myself between the ages of 17 to 37. Nevertheless, no matter how deep Elton John tried to hide himself behind his own fabricated stripes, a dedicated friend and songwriter, Bernie Taupin, played so incredibly well by Jamie Bell, consistently stuck by his side, even when the talented singer was at his worst. Taupin reminded me much of my best friend Cedric who too remained by my side through thick and thin through all my addiction-fueled years.
And speaking of addiction-fueled years, besides being something I saw I had in common with Elton John, “Rocketman” did an amazing job portraying the sad plight of a fallen addict. You see, the more Elton John tried to suppress his pain and his past behind his extravagant stage persona and chameleon-like stripes, the harder his partying became and the greater his blackouts grew, until he finally realized one day he couldn’t run from it anymore. Deep down, like so many other addicts eventually discover, he saw he couldn’t run from the pain anymore and understood he was going to die from it until he faced it head on.
Thankfully, Elton John did just that and found sobriety in his own life, having over 28 years of sobriety now from alcohol and drugs, which in of itself is an incredible achievement I never knew about him. Maybe that’s exactly why my tune has now changed of a man who I once constantly shrugged my shoulders towards each time I saw him sport louder and louder outfits and extreme showiness.
While I wouldn’t put “Rocketman” and recent Freddie Mercury Biopic “Bohemiam Rhapsody” in the same league, I can definitely see the similarities between both, in the films themselves, as well as in each of their lives too. Both Mercury and John struggled to like themselves and heal from painful pasts, using plenty of alcohol and drugs along the way to numb the pain until the pain became great enough. I can so relate to spending years trying to run from pain, all while placing an image out there for others to see that they would like, even though deep down I didn’t like myself at all.
I’m still learning to like myself and heal from my own crazy past, which is why I’m grateful I spent the time watching a movie about someone’s music and life that I never used to appreciate at all. Ultimately, “Rocketman” totally changed my tune of Elton John and his music to one where I admire the man quite deeply now. For someone who faced his biggest hindrance, himself, and fought his way back from darkness to find his own inner light, Elton John is a beautiful soul and “Rocketman” was well worth my time seeing and one I highly recommend…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson