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By Staff | Oct 9, 2015

My wife and I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend an evening with a knight.

Sir Elton has been a major part of our music culture for five decades. He has influenced lives all across the globe, from the sunny coast of Sardinia to a dusty dairy farm in South Dakota.

Music was a crucial element of life back when I was a zit-faced high schooler. This is why I commandeered an AM radio from our house and relocated it to a shelf in our 25-cow stanchion barn.

I convinced my parents that the radio was needed to stay abreast of weather developments while we milked, but conveniently failed to mention that it would also enable me to stay abreast of the Top 40.

Among the first Elton John tunes I recall hearing is “Rocket Man.” The haunting wail of the steel guitar made me feel lost and lonesome and caused me to remove “take a spaceship to Mars” from my bucket list.

And no teenaged male could listen to “Levon” without having his feelings of disdain for the older generation stoked. Not that these feelings needed any stoking.

I remember hearing “Your Song” one summer afternoon as we stood in the barn and watched the gray rain wash away our plans for baling hay.

The lyrics, “I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss” resonated deeply with me because I had done exactly that a few days earlier while repairing the shingles on our ancient chicken coop.

So when some Facebook friends mentioned in their feed that they wanted to sell their tickets for the Sir Elton concert in Sioux Falls, we jumped on them. The tickets, that is.

The high-tech ticket transfer was astoundingly easy. Back in the day, if you wanted concert tickets you had to physically go to the box office where you would physically stand in line.

Upon reaching the head of the line, you would be informed that your choices were to either A.) accept seats that were so far from the stage that they were in another time zone, or B.) stay at home with your stogy parents on Friday night, then suffer in silence as your friends yakked about the concert on Monday.

Things work way differently nowadays. All it took was an email and a few keystrokes and concert tickets were in my grubby little paw. Printing them at home felt somewhat illicit, as if we were mimeographing money.

My wife was looking forward to the concert with the exuberance of a little girl anticipating her birthday party.

On the night of the concert, we were among the first to arrive at the venue. I didn’t mind, though, as we scored a premium parking space.

At exactly the advertised time, a trio of spotlights lit up the grand piano that sat onstage. Thundering piano chords reverberated throughout the concert hall, grabbing the throng by its ears, tickling every spine.

“The guy playing the piano seems to have a modicum of talent,” I shouted to my wife over the roaring applause. “I bet if he practiced he could make something of himself.”

“Just be quiet and enjoy the music,” she replied. My wife always has the best advice.

One advantage of a live concert, besides music so loud that you can feel it in your eyeballs, is that the artist can stretch.

Some of Sir Elton’s instrumental additions caused familiar songs to last up to 10 minutes.

Between numbers, he would often strut across the stage to the crowd’s roof-raising whoops. His blue and gold coat glittered like a man-shaped disco ball.

The opening notes of “Tiny Dancer” filled the arena and I was rocketed back to my senior year of high school.

I am at the end of a date with a girl whom I had been going out with for some while. We had driven to a secluded spot to “park,” a euphemistic term that had nothing to do with meters and white lines.

As “Tiny Dancer” played softly on my car radio, the girl gently explained that she didn’t want to see me anymore.

The lyrics “hold me closer tiny dancer” were thus forever linked with being pushed away.

But that was decades ago, long before I met my wife, long before I could imagine being in the same room with a living legend as he blew the collective socks off 12,000 people.

I glanced over at my wife and saw her wipe away a tear.

The wondrous thing about music is that it enables us to have collective experiences.

Although I don’t know how in the heck she knew about that girl dumping me.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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