It’s a song that takes me back to Grade 6, playing spin the bottle and slow dancing real, real close in someone’s basement, the young lady’s head resting on my shoulder as we circled and held each other tight.
“Someone Saved My Life Tonight” is about an attempted suicide.
In the late ’60s, Elton John was engaged…to a woman. The former Reginald Dwight was gay but trying to convince himself that such was not the case, and feeling totally despondent about the situtation. He was saved by the openly gay Long John Baldry, who had given the young piano player his start in the British band, Bluesology (Baldry also introduced audiences to a very young Rod Stewart).
Long John convinced Elton John to call off the marriage.
In the early ’80s I became friends with Canada’s Metal Queen, Lee Aaron. I was a journalism student at Centennial College and chose her to be the subject for my magazine writing class assignment. I also intended to get it published in the college newspaper but the editor was a New Wave fan who hated metal and passed on my piece. Hey, why not focus on bands that had 10 fans instead of a singer who would go on to have two platinum albums in Canada?
The initial interview with Aaron (real name Karen Greening, and everyone called her Karen) went so well the assistant manager set up a follow-up phone interview. She would call me. She did, at 10:30 pm after having her parents over for dinner. We decided to chat the next day instead. “Why don’t you call me?” she said.
All of a sudden I have the home phone number of a young lady whose videos were on MuchMusic and who had just been on the cover of Oui magazine (the poor man’s Playboy).
I ended up calling Karen about every three weeks or so, always careful not to run the risk of having her think, “Oh no, no this guy again.” But she was gracious and since we were the same age, we had plenty of things in common….including “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.”
I had just seen Elton John at Maple Leaf Gardens and mentioned to Karen how disappointed I was that John hadn’t played the tune I was wanting to hear more than any of his other hits.
“That song,” she said, “always makes me think of being in Grade 6 and slow dancing in someone’s basement.”
So, a story about a guy who wanted to off himself became six minutes of heaven for me, the future Metal Queen and who knows how many other adolescents in the mid ’70s. At that age, slow dancing was like sex. I guess it shows how naive we were back then but the best thing you could possibly do with a girl (in private) was necking and maybe….if you were really lucky…grabbing those boobs.