Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time) - Elton John
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"Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time)" - Elton John (1972)
"Rocket Man" echoes the theme of David Bowie's 1969 song "Space Oddity" as both recordings were produced by Elton's longtime producer Gus Dudgeon.
In both songs, space travel is used as a metaphor. The subjects of both tracks are displacement and alienation. You hear it in lines like "It's just my job five days a week" in "Rocket Man" and "Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do" in "Space Oddity".
Bernie Taupin said the lyrics were inspired by a sighting of either a shooting star or a distant airplane. His account claims the notion of astronauts no longer being perceived as heroes, but in fact as an "everyday occupation" led him to the song's opening lines:
"She packed my bags last night, pre-flight. Zero hour: 9 a.m. And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then."
The lyrics were inspired by a short story of the same title written by Ray Bradbury that describe a Mars-bound astronaut's mixed feelings at leaving his family in order to do his job. Another song called "Rocket Man" and also based on Bradbury's short story was released by the musical group Pearls Before Swine on their 1970 album The Use of Ashes. Taupin acknowledged that the song, written by Tom Rapp had been a direct inspiration for his own lyrics.
"Rocket Man" is absolute genius because of its simplicity which feeds complexity. Musically, it is a highly arranged pop ballad anchored by piano, with atmospheric texture added by synthesizer and processed slide guitar.
The song can be interpreted as a symbol of how rock star become alienated and isolated from their friends, family and from the real world by those with power in the music industry. While he is still in love with the job, he has become disillusioned, experiences bouts of estrangement and isolation. People are just going through the motions; the enthusiasm and giddiness of youth have turned into the hangover of being a middle-aged functionary
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