THE STRANGER AND THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD

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My passionate lifelong love of music first got a jump start by a trip down the Yellow Brick Road.

 

Not the Yellow Brick Road with Dorothy. The one with Alice the lesbian and the Sweet Painted Lady.

 

Not the Yellow Brick Road with the Munchkins. The one with Bennie and The Jets.

 

Yep, it was Elton John’s seminal 1973 album, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, replete with all the seamy characters one album could handle, that was the first real rock and roll album I adored, one that would ignite a 36-year love affair with music that has caused me to amass thousands of CD’s and albums, some of which are framed on my walls, sing lead in a rock and roll cover band, and oh yeah…write a music column for a great website (wink).

 

Fast forward four hormone-exploding, puberty-bursting years to 1977, and another landmark album would also embed itself in the hearts of us kids of the 60’s-70’s: Billy Joel’s “The Stranger.” It would not only contain some of the best songs of Joel’s 40-year career, but also featured the hit single “Just The Way You Are”, a song that I would experience my first bonafide yet sweetly innocent make-out sessions to (where are you now, Jenny Deware?) as well as many high school memories I have that are accompanied by his brilliant tales of bottles of red, bottles of white, and the good dying young.

 

So who knew that all these years and dozens of hit songs and platinum records later, these two ivory-and-gold laden superstars would be joining forces on another blockbuster tour that will drop the geniuses and their pianos at Nationals Park in DC on July 11th, the first ever live rock concert in the Nationals’ one year-old home-by-the-Anacostia. The Face 2 Face 2009 tour kicked off March 4th in Jacksonville with a three and a half hour epic complete with dozens of songs that form the soundtrack of youth for many of us 40-somethings. 

 

But back in the day, it would be almost impossible to fathom both John and Joel on the same bill, especially because back then you couldn’t fit Joel and his piano on a tour with all the room taken up by John’s extravagant sunglasses collection and ornate costumes, much less his enormous diva reputation. But in the days of superstars doubling up to make the biggest buck they can, as well as keeping their long standing careers going after decades in and out of the spotlight, mammoth double bills like theirs are not totally out of the question.

 

And this isn’t the first time the two have done a tour like this. They last toured together in 2003, when they grossed $45.8 million from 24 sellouts, an average of nearly $2 million per night, according to Billboard Boxscore. Top ticket prices for this tour are similar to those of the 2003 dates: around $175, but simply think of who you’re seeing play together (they do both conjoined and solo sets) in one evening, and you can’t really dispute the tab. 

 

“Our ticket prices are the same as you’d pay to see anyone else, but there’s two of us,” Joel said in a November 2008 appearance on “The View.” “In this day and age, we hope to be getting people value for their money.”

 

“It’s so great to be out on the road with Billy again,” John told Newsday recently. “We’re going to have a couple of years of so much fun.”

 

Clearly the Piano Men are one of the hottest tickets to hit DC this year. Just ask the Rocket Man when you dine in his Italian restaurant tonight.

 

 

 

 

(Check out my regular columns on www.localkicks.com)

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