“Rocket Man” has always been a family type of song for me – one that my parents listened to in their youth and passed down to my brother and I. One that we all know by heart and would sing along to anytime it played. It reminds me of a number of times we would sing to it in the car – on our way back from soccer/hockey games, nights out or while on vacation. Or, even just playing it at home where we all sang at the top of our lungs and most likely disturbed our neighbours.
While the song is referring to astronauts and space, it’s a metaphor to the feeling of loneliness – feeling separated from one’s home and loved ones. In reality, the song is comparing the life of an astronaut to that of a regular working person – it could even be referring to fame and how lonely it can be. Looking at “Rocket Man” in a certain way can actually make it sound quite depressing. The smilie “high as a kite”(0:15) could be quite literally referring to drug abuse in response to the depression caused by this separation. “I miss the earth so much, I miss my wife”(0:29) is an allusion that could be referring “earth” to “home”. To go deeper into the word’s meaning, loneliness is the realization that an individual is separated from the entire world, that nobody properly understands them. This description reminds me much of what a large majority of teenagers tend to feel and go through.
While “Rocket Man” is a song referring to the feeling of loneliness, it is also about others having a different view or opinion of yourself than who you think you are. When Elton sings “I’m not the man they think I am at home”(1:04), it leads me to believe that he is seen as a sort of “Rocket Man” to others but in reality, to his wife and kids and himself, he is just a man, dad and husband. As I previously said, if this is referring to fame, it also fits perfectly – he misses his family as he is separated from them for some reason, possibly being on tour and it’s going to be a “long long time”(0:56) until he sees them again. This could even be looked at in the opposite way, where he sees himself as a “Rocket Man” but his wife and kids have a contrary view of him.
In summary, these two meanings from “Rocket Man” can make the song much easier for listeners to connect and relate to. Not everyone is an astronaut, believe it or not – but everyone has felt lonely in some point of their lives, and it is quite common for others to think of you differently than you view yourself, or the other way around.