In Joe’s 2017 memoir and homage of his family, ‘Promise Me, Dad’, he mused about singing ‘Crocodile Rock’ to both of his two young boys, Hunter and Beau, as he drove them to school every day.
And decades later, every night, at the hospital, Joe would sing that same song to his stricken son.
Wrote Joe, “I started singing the lyrics to Beau, quietly, so just the two of us could hear it.
Beau didn’t open his eyes, but I could see through my own tears that he was smiling.”
Those precious moments and those precious memories brought tears to Joe once again, when he spoke about them on Friday.
Sir Elton John was invited by the White House to please play a final American concert, finishing off Elton’s Farewell Tour, after 50 years of doing so.
It was to coincide with an honoring of ‘everyday heroes’ like mental health workers, teachers, nurses and activists of various stripes.
The night was named ‘A Night When Hope and History Rhyme,’ referencing a poem by Irish Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney who the President often quotes.
But Joe had a deeper personal meaning brewing behind it all as well.
In attendance were 2000 guests who included said teachers, medical staff, frontline workers from all spheres and Aids and LGBTQ advocates.
Also there was civil rights advocate Ruby Bridges, activist Malala Yousafzai and Ryan White’s mom and Aids activist Jeanne White-Ginder, Billie Jean King, British Ambassador to the United States Karen Elizabeth Pierce, and of course Elton’s husband David Furnish.
And Laura Bush, who Elton has a very special friendship with.
It was his first time back at the White House since Bill Clinton invited him to perform with Stevie Wonder ( it’s good to be king! ) at a 1998 dinner honoring British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
After performing in the South Lawn’s open air structure which was set up specifically for the performance, Joe came up on stage and beckoned Elton to come stand beside him.
And he didn’t see it coming, which makes it more delicious.
“Tonight is my great honor, and I mean this sincerely, to present the National Humanities Medal to Sir Elton John.
The President of the United States awards this National Humanities Medal to Sir Elton John for moving our souls with his powerful voice, and one of the defining songbooks of all time. An enduring icon and advocate with absolute courage, who found purpose to challenge convention, shatter stigma and advance a simple truth: that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”
On hearing this, shocked, Elton cried and reached for Jill’s hand.
After the President laid the medal round Elton’s neck, hugs were exchanged and Joe laughed and said, “I think we surprised him!”
Followed Elton, “I just said to the First Lady, ‘I’m never flabbergasted, but I’m flabbergasted…. and humbled and honored.”
He then spoke about having launching the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1991, which has donated over $600 million to the cause, and repeated his promise of eradicating the disease by 2030, saying: “We can do it and we will.”
He told Laura Bush, “We would have never gotten as far without President Bush. Please tell him for me, give him a big hug. I just wish America could be more bipartisan on everything.”
The Trumps are also vocal fans, and tried to get Elton to perform at his 2017 inauguration, which Elton got out of it whilst not insulting anyone by saying that he didn’t think it was appropriate for a Brit like himself to play at the swearing-in of an American president.
And then he sat back down to the piano, and played a slower tempo version of Crocodile Rock.
With Jill holding his hand, and Joe, visibly moved, wept a moment.
And though he didn’t sing the entirety of the song, he joined all 2000 when they joined in for the chorus.
‘La- la- la-la- la….. la- la- la- la- la…...’
Gotta be made of stone not to deeply appreciate the humanity from Joe and Jill and all involved.
If you want to treat yourself to some wonderful music and even better vibes this evening, then locate your libation of choice, get comfy, and enjoy the entire evening.
I can’t begin to pick a favorite song from Sir Elton, and I remember as a very young boy being mesmerized by the inside cover of the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album of my older sister, and reading the lyrics as I played it over and over.
Of having a fondness for Philadelphia though I’ve never been, of always seeing Norma Jean instead of Marilyn.
But this reminds me of a special someone who I used to know.
So please pardon my whimsy.