Rocket Man: Which Version Is Best?

21 July 2014, 09:55

Elton John and Kate Bush

Rocket Man: is it the original version from Elton John or Kate Bush’s cover that takes the crown as ‘best version’?

Rocket Man - Elton John

The original version of 'Rocket Man' was performed, of course, by Elton John and was released in 1972. It was composed by Elton John and his long-term songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin.

According to an account in Elizabeth Rosenthal's book His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John, the song was inspired by Taupin's sighting of either a shooting star or a distant airplane. It suggests that astronauts were no longer heroes, but in fact it was an “ordinary occupation", leading to the lyrics "She packed my bags last night, pre-flight. Zero hour: 9 a.m. And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then."

Taken from Elton John's 1972 album Honky Château, it became a hit single, reaching number two in the UK and number six in America.

Rocket Man – Kate Bush

Kate Bush’s cover version of ‘Rocket Man’ was released in 1991, as part of the Elton John/Bernie Taupin tribute album Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin. It reached number 12 in the UK and was considered a commercial success.

Bush’s reggae version is much more mysterious than John’s and it could be argued that she makes it a much deeper song, with multiple interpretations of the lyrics available, depending on where you look.

She also sings from the perspective of a man. We wouldn’t expect anything else from Kate Bush.

Best version? Elton John. But Kate Bush puts in a pretty good fight.

Which version of Rocket Man do you think is the best? Let us know via the comment box below.