A harrowing, yet sort of happy, tale of being thirteen and confronted with “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”:
I didn’t even know what despair was at that age. It was just a feeling I had no words for, a weighing down of my soul that kept me from being truly happy. And here was Elton, so obviously unhappy with things in his life. Was he fleeing from the thing that made him unhappy or was he fleeing from his unhappiness in general? I dug deep into the words, trying to decipher them. The thought of him walking head on into the deep end of the river filled me with dread yet at the same time I thought about how freeing that would be, to just slip into the water and let it take me.
It’s facile to say that there’s no existential dread like teenage existential dread. Which doesn’t make it any less true.
And really, who was expecting something like this so soon after “The Bitch Is Back” or “Philadelphia Freedom”? Yeah, there was “I Think I’m Going To Kill Myself” way back on Honky Château, but we all knew this was just temporary discomfort; at worst, he had a busted wing and a hornet sting.
Still, the river would not be claiming her:
I knew I’d never have the guts to kill myself. But I also knew my first time thinking about it would not be my last. And there was some small comfort in the fact that this musician I idolized shared what felt like a sacred moment with me; that moment when you think maybe enough is enough. I thought about how many other people in the world have felt like ending it all and how many actually did it. It was a sobering thought and I pushed myself into thinking that it could get better, it would get better. After all, Elton John walked away from that river and freed himself from his unhappiness. If he could do it, so could I.
From a point closer to the end than to the beginning, let me assure you: this isn’t a sentiment you have to be an adolescent to appreciate.