Vinay Menon: Only Elton John can save the world from Donald Trump
Who is the one person Donald Trump loves in this world as much as himself?
Melania? Nope. His kids? Please. Here, some hints: This person was one of the first to perform at Trump’s doomed Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino in 1990. This person serenaded Donald and Melania during their lavish 2005 wedding at Mar-a-Lago. This person rhymes with “Felton Yawn.”
That’s right … it’s Elton John!
According to South Korean media, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo packed a special gift for Kim Jong Un before embarking upon new denuclearization talks this week: a CD that includes John’s “Rocket Man.”
“The ‘Rocket Man’ CD was the subject of discussion during Trump’s lunch with Kim,’” reported the Chosun Ilbo newspaper, quoting a diplomatic source. “Kim mentioned that Trump referred to him as ‘Rocket Man’ when tensions ran high last year… Trump then asked Kim if he knew the song and Kim said no. Trump remembered the conversation and told Pompeo to take a CD with the song for Kim.’ He reportedly wrote a message on it and signed it.”
I know. It seems like a weird gift given the insult origins of “Rocket Man.” It’s like calling someone an “ass” and then sending him a signed donkey. But if a 1972 ballad about an introspective astronaut helps prevent mushroom clouds, I believe it’s high time Elton John started loving Donald Trump as much as Donald Trump has always loved Elton John.
It’s time for Sir Elton to save the world from the madman across the water.
Let’s face it, there isn’t much about the U.S. president that is warm and fuzzy. His shtick is cold fury. That’s what makes this unrequited bromance between Captain Fantastic and The Donald so fantastically intriguing.
John’s piano-driven early catalogue — the era that turned Trump into a lifelong fanboy — is filled with beautiful melodies and evocative lyrics. I have never met anyone who does not have a favourite Elton John song. I have seen grown men who otherwise prefer death metal tear up when I’ve put on “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”
This is music that unites all kinds of listeners, even politicians that divide.
“I have broken more Elton John records — he seems to have a lot of records,” said an admiring Trump on Thursday night in Montana, at a rally where he once again name-checked his hero. “And we beat, and I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument. I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ. Elton has an organ.”
Then there was this odd aside during a campaign stop in 2015.
Trump: “You know, I was with Elton John. Elton John. Anybody like Elton John? I like him. And a lot of times like he’ll do this last song. And it’s so great. It’s so unbelievable. The place is standing and roaring and going incredible. And then there’ll be like — he’ll come back for like three more, right? And the three aren’t as good as the last one. And people go, ‘Good, let’s get out of here, Alice.’”
What is he talking about? I have no clue, Alice. His speeches are brainteasers. They are sonic Sudokus. But this is the important part: whenever he mentions his “good friend” Elton, those rambling words lose their repulsive edge.
The gibberish almost becomes endearing.
Trump has run out of celebrities to mutually hate. But throughout his wildly polarizing political odyssey, he’s never stopped adoring John. Not when the singer pointedly declined to perform at his inauguration. Not when the singer asked campaign organizers to stop playing “Tiny Dancer” at campaign rallies otherwise filled with angry foxtrots. Not when the singer endorsed Hillary Clinton. Not when the singer made it clear he thought Trump’s policies were revolting. Not ever.
This is why John should now realize the unique power he holds. In the terrifying funhouse that is Trump’s imagination, Elton John is always slouched over a grand piano and belting out “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues.” This is why he should do the opposite of what every celebrity is doing and embrace Trump.
Trump doesn’t listen to anyone. But he might listen to John.
Imagine what might happen if John meets with Trump next week in London and the two reminisce about all the great times they had before politics tore them apart. Imagine if John moved into the White House and randomly appeared with a keyboard dangling from his neck, breaking into spontaneous song at key moments in this deranged presidency. There’s no way Trump could ever lock children in cages after hearing a live version of “Candle in the Wind,” one of his favourites.
Trump is banging on about tariffs that could plunge the world into recession? Quick, Elton, sing, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” — we’ll get Ivanka to do the other part of the duet. Trump is blathering on about The Wall? Elton, please, play “Border Song” so this guy can see the light. Trump is preparing for his summit with Vladimir Putin? Elton, throw on a sequined tank top and crazy sunglasses and nail “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” before the sun goes down on all of us.
I’ll admit Trump’s love of John is a bigger mystery than Stonehenge. But it is real.
And the president is right about Elton having an organ — it’s called a heart.
John should use it now to manipulate, to sway, to persuade, to change the horrible music that keeps coming out of Trump’s mouth.
Vinay Menon is the Star’s pop culture columnist based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @vinaymenon