Sat Eye Candy: Rocket Man


On this day in 1970, Apollo 13, the third manned lunar landing mission, launched. Thanks to Ron Howard and Tom Hanks we all know how things turned out. Just two years after this snafu plagued flight, Elton John and his lyricist chum Bernie Taupin released one of the most perniciously ubiquitous singles in modern music, “Rocket Man.” Loosely based on Ray Bradbury’s tale from The Illustrated Man, the Honky Chateau standout has evolved into one of those songs it seems everyone on the planet knows. Seriously, see how long it takes before most of the room is chiming along when a band drops this tune. What Taupin and John captured is the dark side of the cosmic dream, the fallout of projecting ourselves into space but taking along all the usual human baggage.

There have been great versions (My Morning Jacket and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes jump to mind) and dreadful maulings by music killers like Jamie Callum, Jason Mraz and William Hung. Today we offer a taste of the good and the bad in Eye Candy’s first edition focused on a single song.

We also recommend checking out this letter to Elton John from NASA. Priceless.

We begin with the man himself in 1977 in his last performance before a brief semi-retirement. Reg puts a lot of feeling into this one.

Banjoist Todd Taylor, offers possibly the coolest version we found in our trolling.

Here’s Ryan Adams with Elton in 2001. The fidelity ain’t great but it’s an interesting moment.

This booking demo video for an Elton tribute band speaks for itself.

No “Rocket Man” salute would be complete with William Shatner‘s infamous interpretation at a science fiction awards ceremony in 1978.

And here’s Chris Elliott‘s recreation of Shatner’s performance on Late Night With David Letterman in 1992.

What can one say of Kate Bush? Belfry nutty but kinda brilliant, too. You be the judge on this one.

Even sensitive Swedes dig this tune.

There are a LOT of amateur versions of the song out there. Like America’s national anthem, many people believe this one is in their range. While our personal favorite from Westercon 33 in1980 can’t be embedded you can check it out here (and REALLY you should…), and there’s this incredibly sincere attempt to send us off into the weekend.

And don’t forget, you can eyeball video sweetness 24/7 with JamBase TV.