You know the signs, somewhere out on the highway on the Navajo Rez? (That's reservation, to 5th generation Arizonans, like me. Or, I would be a 5th generation Arizonan, except I was born in Michigan. And grew up in California.) They are near the Grand Canyon, but also on that that well-worn wagon trail between Phoenix and Salt Lake City? Well, they advertise an arts and crafts stand out in the middle of nearly-nowhere. First, they warn you with a big Nice Indians Ahead sign, but really you aren't much tempted to stop, and so you don't, generally. But that's where the marketing genius begins. Just past the the stand, there are more signs. They go something like:
And for some reason, you flip around and go back to buy some sort of painted bead bracelet that you don't actually want.
I haven't made the drive in a few years. I don't make the pilgrimage to the Temple of the Cute Boys (i.e. back to school at the BYU) as often as I used to (as I have my own cute boy here locally, plus I graduated), but I sure hope the nice Indians are still around. Course, for all I know, they might have lost their lease to the Mean Indians who are Gonna Scalp You. Which would also make for a fab sign.
Anyhow, that has nothing to do with my actual reason for writing today. Except that while I was sitting in my nosebleed seat behind the stage at the Billy Joel/Elton John concert last Thursday night, I kept wishing I had my own Nice Indians Behind You sign. Although, as far as I know, I'm not an American Indian. But you never know, unless you get that mail order DNA testing kit online for like 500 bucks, where you send a cheek swab in and they tell you where all you ancestors are from.
I totally want to do that. Totally. Don't you?
So our seats were sort of off-center, and a video screen cut off our view of Elton's head, but allowed us to see the rest of him. (Not really a bonus.) Billy was almost 100% blocked by a cluster of electrical cables hanging from the lighting apparatus on the ceiling. And did I mention we were looking at them from behind? Luckily, someone had sport parked their pianos sort of sideways.
These are the sorta seats you get when you forget that the tickets go on sale Friday, and you mosey on over to Ticketmaster on Monday afternoon. But I wanted to get them for my brother Ryan for Christmas, because I knew the two-fer was gonna blow his mind. It did.
Although, Ryan kept asking why Billy Joel didn't get dressed up. I was like, Ryan, he's wearing a sport coat and tie. What do you want from him? And then I realized, Ryan wanted Billy to dress up like Elton, who was actually rather tame in a black cut-away with tails and a sequined little Elton on the back, coordinated Doc Marten wing tips, and sunglasses.
Ryan also kept asking whether Billy and Elton rent the speakers or buy them, and whether they came in a big tour bus. He did not like to hear that they might have a private plane. He's all about the buses. And has been since he was three years old.
Anyhow, we were right in the middle of our row, with no fewer than 10 people on either side of us, which became a problem when the concert lasted for MORE THAN THREE AND A HALF HOURS. Because around hour 2.5, you start thinking you might die for a treat and a toilet, but you are trapped. You start wishing that instead of the Nice Indians Behind You sign, you had one that said Someone please bring me a churro and a bed pan. I'm not sure how all the older blokes with the prostate problems did it.
Billy and Elton opened together on their dueling pianos, then Billy went off to have a nap or similar, while Elton played about 30 minutes of songs I'd never heard before. During this time I was able to stare at him very hard through my official 1984 Los Angeles Olympics binoculars (same ones I used to peep at Mary Lou Retton when she got a perfect ten on the vault), and I came to a startling conclusion:
Gordon Ramsay is Elton John's love child.
I do understand there are all kinds of problems with this theory. But Gordon is like a young, cursing Elton without the boas and colorful sunglasses.
Anyhow, later on, Elton started to play stuff I knew and liked, like Daniel and Rocketman, which are undoubtedly very fine songs, but he sort of yelled the whole thing. I don't know if he's lost his voice quality (like Neil Diamond) or what, but he (and Billy, too, to be fair), never brought down the volume and calmed down to just play the piano and sing. Everything was at top volume and high energy. I'll bet some of the other Rockin' Elderly in there with me would agree with me that the whole thing was just a bit too LOUD.
I did enjoy the second half of Elton's set, but when Billy's turn began, I realized: Billy's my boy. He's always been my boy. When I was a small child, our next door neighbor the Property Master (did props for movies, you should have seen the fantastic stuff in his garage) gave us An Innocent Man on vinyl (was a prop, as well as Adam Ant's Strip, but let's not talk about that), and I listened to that album for years on end, cause it was all I had of my own, except for some Men at Work songs I'd taped off the radio.
Billy sounded quite good, but still sort of yelly. The back of his baldy head peeking out from behind the cable bundle looked okay, too. He made a couple of dirty old man jokes that I found sort of creepy.
I saw Billy once before, in 89 or 90, where someone lit a cig behind me and lit my hair on fire. It was just a small fire, but the smell of burning hair was quite potent.
Anyhow, everybody got together at the end to sing a few tunes together, including even a few Beatles tunes (You say its your birthday and Back in the USSR), and ended the night with Piano Man. About halfway through, everybody quit playing (even the guitar guy who looked like if Dana Carvey dressed up as Rick Springfield for Halloween), and the audience was exposed! We were all (23,000 of us, the place was packed to the ceiling) singing the chorus at top volume, only you couldn't hear us over the very loud sound system (leased or purchased outright? Is still a mystery). It was a fabulous, hymn-like noise, a We Are the World-type moment of love and brotherhood, and I am not ashamed to say I shed a tear or two. (Completely separate from the crying over my empty belly and bulging bladder.)
So, do you like Elton or Billy?
Do you think Gordon looks like Elton?
Have you done any online DNA tests?
Have you ever lit your hair on fire?
Was it very stinky?
Have you been to Nice Indians Behind You?
Did you have a good weekend?