November 18, 2020

It’s All Happening

Remember the good ole days of Oprah?! Well, I definitely do (huge fan in my early years thanks to my mom). I recently found this essay I submitted to the show back in 2010 to win audience tickets for Elton John on Oprah Fridays Live. Long story short, I ended up winning! Scoring tickets to The Oprah Winfrey Show at the time was NOT easy to do, so this was a big deal :). Here’s part of the episode in which my sister, Teri, and I got a quick shot at minute 6:09. Below is my essay which landed us the golden tickets.

April 4, 2010

There are moments in life that shape you and change the course of the person you become. You can’t control who or what has that kind of effect on you. You can only choose to respond to it and let it in.

I was 16 when I first saw the Cameron Crowe film, Almost Famous – almost the exact same age as its main character, William. If you haven’t seen it, William is an aspiring writer in the 70s who gets a dream assignment to write for Rolling Stone magazine. He goes on tour with an up-and-coming band to write about their road to stardom. He meets and falls in love with one of the groupies “Band-Aids,” Miss Penny Lane. His journey ended up being as much about discovering himself as it was about the band. I’ll share no other details but this:

There’s a scene in the movie where the band comes back together after nearly falling apart. The last member of the band steps onto their tour bus and the piano fades in with the starting notes of Elton John’s song “Tiny Dancer.” The lyrics kick in… “Blue jean baby…” as the bus takes off, and the crew sits and listens quietly until one of the band members breaks the silence and sings aloud. Penny Lane is the second to participate and before you know it, the whole bus is singing along, reunited by their love for music. I’ll never forget how I felt watching it, and I’ve replayed it 100 times since. It sounds stupid, but that scene, powered by that song, had a very real impact on me.

I’ve been obsessed with music for as long as I can remember in a way where I felt like few people understood. There’s a quote in the movie where one of the cast members says, “They don’t even know what it is to be a fan. To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.” I’d never felt so validated and understood.

I went on a deep dive after that into 60s and 70s rock music, starting, of course, with Elton John. Not only did I fall in love with Elton and his music, but he helped open the door for me to discover some of my all-time favorite bands like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and Fleetwood Mac. As a teenager in the early 2000s, nearly all of my high school memories were built around those two decades of music. I remember driving around my small town in my crappy high school car, blaring Tiny Dancer with my windows down, feeling all the stress that comes with being a teenager melt away. I’m beyond grateful to Cameron Crowe for his epic film and to Elton John himself for bringing me into that world through his music.

I’m not famous. I’m not even Almost Famous. And I don’t aspire to be so. My dreams are much smaller, and writing this ticket entry essay is my attempt to make one of them come true. I know the odds are against me, but it would mean more to me than any words I can write to have my Penny Lane moment, where I can sit among a small audience listening to the man who changed music for me forever and say to myself, “It’s all happening.”