song: elton john – “bennie and the jets” [stream only] (buy)
accept loss forever. – jack kerouac
i was seventeen. i remember, somewhat tentatively, asking a friend what type of alcohol ‘booze’ was. i was wagering it was a kind of whiskey though willing to concede it was gin. a much wiser 18-year-old bari found herself slinging booze, jack to be precise, in the back of a pick up truck on some dirt road in nowhere, tennessee. it was hundreds of miles from home – which was the point – and i was listening to this song.
i must have played it two dozen times that night. the slow but steady march of the piano mirrored my surroundings, the arc of elton’s voice – playful but lonely – made me realize that i had finally grown up. i imagined how many bars had just called last call while their old, drunk regulars selected this song and pressed play on the jukebox.
it is, first and foremost, a melancholic song. not sad – melancholic. it’s the sort of song you listen to when you’re picking up the pieces and gathering your surroundings. it’s the sort of song you grow up to, and it’s the sort of song that makes you realize you still need to grow up. to me, it’s a song that makes you reflect on all the things you’ve done, and gained, and lost, and then suddenly you know exactly where you are.
photo by bari sowa