This song might never have happened but for Bernie’s sighting in the quiet English countryside of either a shooting star or an airplane. He started thinking about astronauts, who were no longer heroes but incumbents in what was rapidly becoming (to him) an “everyday occupation.” These thoughts filled his mind as he drove along a dark road and the first lines of the song song came to him as if planted by some extraterrestrial force: “She packed my bags last night/pre-flight,/zero hour, nine A.M./and I’m gonna be high as a kite by then.” He rushed home to transcribe the words and, the next day, finished the lyrics, borrowing the song title from obscure number by Tom Rapp, who had, in turn, been inspired by the writings of Ray Bradbury.
We’ve got seven covers of this classic, have a listen and place your vote.
Artist: David Fonesca
Album: Dreams in Colour
The Skinny: This uptempo version by Portuguese singer David Fonesca is sung in English with an almost comical drumbeat that switches to hand clips at the chorus. Released in 2007, Its got over the top vocal dubs and is definitely a bit cheesy, but I gotta say – I like it.
Pretty epic music video for this cover too:
READ ON for more covers of Rocket Man by Elton John…
Artist: Kate Bush
Album: Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin
The Skinny: English singer-songwriter Kate Bush contributed her version of Rocket Man to this 1991 covers compilation. It hit #12 on the UK Singles chart and the readers of The Observer voted it the best cover of all time.
Jamie Cullum put his jazz-rock spin on Rocket Man for a tribute show while Sir Elton watched and sung along:
Artist: My Morning Jacket
Album: Chapter 1-Sandworm Cometh-Early Recordings
The Skinny: This studio cover appears on this collection of early My Morning Jacket recordings. Rarely played live, it most recently appeared on the MMJ live stage in October of 2010 at Terminal 5 in New York during the encore with a slew of other covers after the band had performed Tennessee Fire in its entirety. Video of that below under the studio audio embed.
Live Show: 8-9-2011 (Recording by Taylor Caine)
The Skinny: Phish surprised the audience at their recent shows in Tahoe, NV with this debut cover of Rocket Man. Like Phish’s one-off performance of John’s Amoreena on August 13, 1997, keyboardist Page McConnell handled the lead vocal duties. This performance is also unique for the very rare use of a slide by guitarist Trey Anastasio.
Artist: Ryan Adams
Live Show: 12-3-2001
The Skinny: Ryan Adams delivers a rocking cover to close this show from the winter of 2001 at the Blue Note in St. Louis, MO.
Here is some video of Elton John joining Adams less than one month after 9/11 in New York City
Artist: William Shatner
Live Performance: 1978 Science Fiction Awards
The Skinny: And last, but most certainly not least, is this epic video performance by William Shatner from the 1978 Science Fiction Awards. This video gag has been parodied by many, most notably Stewie from Family Guy – oh yeah, that’s the good stuff. An official Shatner recording is in the works on his forthcoming album Searching For Major Tom.