On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
Elton John – Rocket Man (1972)
We’re leaving California and returning to the UK today, dear reader. Since we’re here we may as well land in London where our next guest is from. Born Reginald Dwight, he is known today as Elton John and is one of the biggest selling musicians in history. John formed a creative partnership with Bernie Taupin in 1967 and they have written songs together ever since. Back in 1972 Elton John was on to his fifth album, Honky Chateau, and from that record 1001 Songs has decided to lift off with Rocket Man.
Rocket Man was inspired by a short story of the same name from Ray Bradbury. Taupin began the lyrics and John then joined him to finish off the song, including writing the music. The song tells the story of an astronaut who works five days a week going into space, he doesn’t follow the science around him, but it’s a job and he has to do it as there is a living to be made. The downside is that being in space is a lonely business and he misses his wife and family back on Earth. The song has also been interpreted as a metaphor for fame with Elton John once saying stardom was akin to being in space and feeling free.
Elton John is currently in the midst of a three-year farewell tour but Rocket Man represents the early days of the singer and the track is brimming with the potential for greatness that John would attain. It’s one of his classic songs from the 1970s but many more big hits were still to come, including the 1997 version of Candle in the Wind, a tribute to the late Princess Diana and the biggest selling single in history. Rocket Man has stood the test of time, reminiscent of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, but exploring a different theme in space exploration. Truly out of this world. I’m here all week.
Favourite songs so far:
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)
The Doors – The End (1967)
The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)
The Kinks – Days (1968)
Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)
David Bowie – Life on Mars? (1971)
Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)
Stevie Wonder – Superstition (1972)