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Elton John’s “Diamonds” Reviewed

I haven’t been to an Elton John concert in quite some time and I never listen to his albums anymore. I really did like “The Diving Board” (2013) as it held special significance to me.

When it came out in October 2013, I found myself for a brief period living alone in the house where I grew up, and sleeping in my old bedroom. This was where I played my 33 1/3 rpm vinyl records as a teenager with posters and album covers on the wall. So at 50 years of age, I’m once again listening to new music in my old bedroom, but this time from computer speakers, and not on afternoons after school but as I was falling asleep after a long day of caring for my elderly father, who was temporarily in a rehab facility following hip surgery.

So the first track from “The Diving Board” was a song called “Ocean’s Away” – it was a strictly piano and vocal song about war veterans. My father was a veteran and I was caring for him at the time – and so that song, which I heard for the first time and played nightly in my old childhood bedroom, held special meaning for me.

I had never met Bernie Taupin until about a year ago (I’ve spoken with him twice since, most recently just last week) and told him about my personal connection to “Oceans Away.” He told me that he wrote it for his father. So as Elton John songs go, it’s a diamond as far as I’m concerned.

Elton John has a new collection of hits. I don’t collect vinyl anymore and I don’t even have a CD player anymore. And of course, I know all the songs – I grew up with all of them.

But having not heard them in ages, I can’t tell you the thrill of hearing the original recording of “Rocket Man” in a pristine remaster. Songs you know can still surprise with emotional depth you forgot was there.

I also met Elton this year for the first time – it was a very brief but for me an immensely meaningful encounter with a man who has influenced me in ways far beyond singing and songwriting. As The Advocate to eloquently pointed out, “activism changed Elton, then Elton changed the world.”

My father passed away a couple of years ago and as so many from his generation he hated rock music. I was only 12 when I recognized how Elton made piano playing seem cool — and I feel personal pride in having known all those years ago that he was a really good egg.

Elton John’s Diamonds

Elton John – Oceans Away

Sir Elton John and Jeanne White-Ginder (mother of Ryan White) at 25th Anniversary of the Elton John AIDS Foundation


(Jack Phillips is a singer songwriter and pianist, his current release is Down In The Jungle Room)

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