Monday, June 28, 2004

A Close Reading of the Inherent, Implicit Gay Content of Elton John's "Rocket Man" (or What Majoring in English Has Taught Me to Do)

Ahem.

A Close Reading of the Inherent, Implicit Gay Content of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”
- or -
What Majoring in English Has Trained Me To Do.

If one listens closely to the lyrics of Elton John’s hit “Rocket Man” from his 1972 album Honky Chateau, the song can easily be read as an early admission of the singer’s homosexuality. Elton John would not publicly come out until 1976 in a Rolling Stone interview, this song is pretty goddamn gay. Basically, it likens being an astronaut to being gay — which is exactly how everybody should think about those astronauts.
She packed my bags last night pre-flight
Zero hour nine a.m.
And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then
The narrator is separating from his wife. Then he’s doing drugs. And we all know that gay men are notorious junkies.
I miss the earth so much I miss my wife
Okay, yeah, he says he misses his wife, but for all he knows he just misses her companionship — not necessarily the sex.
It's lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight
He’s lonely, lost in a world of anonymous sex.
And I think it's gonna be a long long time
Here, the narrator’s talking about how he’s not going to be able to be open about his sexuality right away. He’s gonna need time to go public with it — as in the four years it will take for him to tell the Rolling Stone reporter that he’s bi, or the years after that when he finally gets around to admitting he's full-on gay.
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no — I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone
This doesn’t really warrant much of an explanation.
Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it's cold as hell
And there's no one there to raise them if you did
Mars, the symbol for which is a big fat male sign. Apparently, gay life isn’t the kind of place the narrator would want to raise a family. Traditionally, women do most of the child-rearing. The narrator worries that an all-male environment might deprive his child of a proper parent.
And all this science I don't understand
It's just my job five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man
Being a singer or whatever is just his public persona. At heart, he’s a big flaming rocket man. And, if nothing else, we should have learned by now that rocket man = gay.
And I think it's gonna be a long long time... (and it goes on like this)
So there you have it. The secret, homosexual-but-surprisingly homophobic content of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” Please feel free to introduce the term “rocket man” into your vocabulary, as in, “I don’t know about you, but that one seems like a bit of a rocket man to me.”

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:36 AM

    this is pretty old but i came across your entry while looking for interpretations of this song. But wasn't teh song written by someone else?

    Lyrics by Bernie Taupin

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  2. Anonymous2:40 AM

    I don't think this song is homophobic... considering it came out in 1972 - "gay couples and children" wasn't really a topic on the political agenda back then... the choices were between a heterosexual lifestyle with kids or a homosexual one without.
    and the part about "I'll be high as a kite by then", in my opinion, just refers to the sexual thrill, and not to drugs...
    I think this song just describes the situation and second thoughts of a "normal" gay guy inside the closet in the early 1970ies.

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