When I was a sophmore in high school my marching band decided to take a trip to Mexico. It was a rather large band, over 200 kids, plus their chaperones. I took my Elton John greatest hits casette with me in a hand-held casette player. I loved listening to "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Daniel". They seemed appropriate for my leaving my parents behind and getting on board a big jet for lands I'd never visited before. The excitement built. While on the flight I even got my best friend interested in listening to the tape and before long we were both singing Elton's songs. I had no idea that listening to Elton John would be a life-saving experience.
Mexico was breathtaking and hot. At 15 I thought I had the world by the tail. I drank in all the sights and sounds of the native land. I was excited when we had the opportunity to perform with our instruments in large plazas for the native Mexican peoples. They seemed to enjoy our music so much.
On one particular day we were to march in the street for several miles through a pre-planned route that would eventually lead us to a great plaza where we would participate in a small festival with other performers. The day was very warm, above 110 F, and the band members were all wearing long-sleeved white shirts with black wool band pants. We would play and march, then pass water bottles among us. Eventually people were getting ill from the heat and would have to drop out of the line before we reached our end destination. I made it to the final destination and believed that I was ok. After our performance I decided to lay my head down on the lap of a friend and rest. I didn't wake up for several hours and found myself in hospital.
I had passed out with a heat stroke. The band doctor, being from Argentina originally, had helped the local first aid men get me to the hospital quickly and treat me, but I had remained unconscious. While I was unconscious I remember dreaming about the Elton John songs. I could hear them in my head. It was the sound of those songs that eventually made me open my eyes some six hours after I had first closed them on a veranda overlooking the festival. I had two large IVs in my arms and was stripped nearly naked. They had tried to cool my body as quickly as possible. One of the aids got the doctor who came and spoke to me. They loaded me into the ambulance and took us back to the motel we were staying at just in time for me to get ready to make my flight back to the United States (we almost missed it).
All the way on that flight home I listened to that Elton John Greatest Hits tape and cried over being so thankful I had not died of heat stroke.
I have remained a big fan of Elton John's. I have had the privelege of seeing him in concert once in Des Moines, Iowa, and I was right up close. Every time I hear his music it makes me feel so good to be alive.