ME - Elton John
Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
“You think you’re being difficult, my little sausage? Have I ever told you about the time I drank eight vodka martinis, took all my clothes off in front of a film crew and then broke my manager’s nose?”
I absolutely love Elton John's music, I've been known to play it every night for an hour before bed for several days in a row.
That being said, I know very little about the man himself. We caught Rocketman at the cinema last year, the film was hilarious yet also heartbreaking at times. My partner gifted me ME for Christmas, after also having told me not to buy it in Waterstones several times before Christmas day (I have a habit of buying myself books that people are buying me as presents).
Often I don't review biographies as I always think it's a bit more personal than reviewing your average story, who am I to say the way someone wrote about their life is shit? However ME was an absolute blast and an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish.
Elton describes his life; the highs and lows with such candour and in such a matter of fact way, often he retells the most surreal experiences just as though they are everyday and I found myself genuinely belly laughing through it. He's also so respectful about all of the people he has encountered in his life even John Reid and when talking about his turbulent parental relationships.
“You may still be standing, dear,’ it read, ‘but the rest of us are on the fucking floor.”
I have apparently been living under a rock for most of my life as I had no idea about the extent of Elton's drug use, obviously much of the book centred on this. There's something rather poignant about the way he describes his lowest points, the fallouts from his drug use, getting sober and then trying to help other addicts in his life also become clean/sober. I found it really refreshing that never once did it take on a self-pitying tone rather just a retelling of his life, the mistakes he'd made and then the benefits on the changes he had made to his lifestyle.
Due to Rocketman I was very aware of how influential and active Elton had been in the LGBT rights movements and Aids (I am not suggesting the two are linked however as that was the preconception during this time of Elton Johns life, he writes about them hand in hand. What I wasn't aware of was just how damaging the stigma was around both even that recently, it's clear that Elton didn't donate so much money to charity for glory or to strengthen his profile, he gave his money and time to these causes purely because they struck a chord with his heart. There's a rather amusing section where he recalls suing the sun for making false claims about him and donates the money to charity, the rationale for suing being solely to teach him a lesson. There's also some incredibly tear-jerking moments where Elton tells the reader about a young boy with aids he was in touch with and Freddie Mercury's last days in hospital.
Most of the world are fully aware of who Elton John is, most of the world are probably aware of his drug use, outrageous tantrums and his charitable nature. Yet most of us probably aren't aware of all the intricate details, all of the funny stories of his life, what exactly made Elton John Elton John and his warm persona. This was such a good read.