The Legendary Story Behind Elton John’s “Rocket Man”
Elton John live in 2016 - Elton John EltoNico / Youtube
Musical partners Elton John and Bernie Taupin became music’s most celebrated songwriting tandem, producing hits that were not only successful commercially but also went down in history. The pair met as songwriters who intend to write hits for different artists, but John knew he wanted so much greater than that when he longed to become an individual artist.
After 2 years of waiting, Elton John’s debut album was released. It bore a classic hit “Your Song,” which gave confidence to the duo’s partnership which would last for decades. Since then, they’ve managed to score tracks that everyone loves, including “Rocket Man.” Taupin wrote the lyrics while John created the lovely arrangement that the song contained.
The song became a hit, partly because space adventures were on the peak; during the recording session of the song, the Apollo mission landed for the 5th time on the moon, giving so much pride and joy to the people. “Rocket Man” could somewhat relate to the then-current scenario; it tells us the mixed feelings of an astronaut, who was sent on an astronomical exploration which prompt him to leave his family for 3 months. The space explorer has the dilemma to pick his family or his career. He chose the 2nd one, which resulted in consequences.
Taupin explained the lyrics back in 2016, to clear the assumptions of people that the song was inspired by David Bowie’s hit “Space Oddity.” “It was actually inspired by a story by Ray Bradbury, from his book of science fiction short stories called The Illustrated Man,” Taupin revealed. “In that book, there was a story called The Rocket Man, which was about how astronauts in the future would become a sort of everyday job. So, I kind of took that idea and ran with that.”
The song became one of the duo’s well-beloved hits, earning no. 2 spot in UK and no. 6 spot in the US. “Rocket Man” catapulted John’s status as an artist, thus implying that he is a rocket man himself.