Rhode Island, 2016:
My co-worker and I are mere hours away from a week off after a hellish month of election apocalypse, looming fascism, state-wide bronchitis, and sleep deprivation. To keep us awake, I start telling stories.
“So, I was watching this documentary on ‘Hunky Dory,’ and they left out the most interesting part…”
“That’s on my turntable right now.”
“The songbook’s sitting next to my melodica. Anyway, I got totally pissed off, because they left out the most interesting part… Uh…”
“Oh, right. Well, the so-called experts are like, ‘Suddenly there was this twinkling piano,’ as if that was some magical whatever after ‘The Man Who Sold the World,’ which was basically a Sabbath record, but there’s actually a great story behind that.”
“Okay, so, Elton John totally hated David Bowie. I can’t remember why… Oh, yeah, because Bowie outed him in Melody Maker or some shit, called him ‘the token queen of rock and roll,’ and he wasn’t out, didn’t want to be, so he was totally pissed. Also, he apparently walked in on Bowie and Mick Jagger calling him ‘Fat Reg.’ So, you know, he hated him.”
“So, Elton retaliates, calls Bowie ‘unhinged,’ feigns sympathy for his apparent mental illness, which he knows is a knife in the gut to dear old Dave with his schizophrenic brother and all. Meanwhile, Bowie’s totally jealous because Elton’s completely uninteresting but has managed to gain American appeal while Bowie has one hit single and a British cult following at best. So, he says, ‘Fuck Reg, I can write an album on a piano, too. Fuck that asshole.’ And he did. Sounds nothing like an Elton John record, of course, but it came out great, and that’s why the tinkling piano is there. ‘Hunky Dory’ happened because he was punking Elton John.”
“Yup. And then, forty-five years later, Bowie dies, and Elton John has got to weigh in, of course. And he’s just as bitchy as he was then – dedicates a song to him, makes all kind of news for it, brags that they used to club together when they were teenagers, calls his death ‘classy,’ whatever that means, and it’s like, ‘You fucking hated this dude. You both hated each other.’ Classy would be keeping your mouth shut.”
“Can I go home now?”
Next week: Lord only knows.