Rocket Man!

Graphic:  George Danby

When I read that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly brought a CD with the Elton John song “Rocket Man” to give as a gift to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during his visit to the country I thought what a great sense of humor President Trump has!


Last year, amid escalating rhetoric between the two countries, Trump repeatedly referred to Kim as “Rocket Man” and “Little Rocket Man.”

A diplomatic source in Washington cited by Chosun Ilbo explained that the “Rocket Man” CD was “the subject of discussion during Trump’s lunch with Kim” when they first met for a summit in Singapore last month.

According to the outlet, when Kim referenced Trump’s nickname, Trump asked him if he’s familiar with the song. Trump later asked Pompeo to bring a copy of the CD during his subsequent trip.

Here are the lyrics:

“Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long Long Time)”

She packed my bags last night pre-flight
Zero hour nine A.M.
And I’m gonna be high as a kite by then

I miss the earth so much, I miss my wife
It’s lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight

And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
‘Til touchdown 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

And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
‘Til touchdown 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

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

And all this science I don’t understand
It’s just my job five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man

And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
‘Til touchdown 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

And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
‘Til touchdown 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

And I think it’s gonna be a long long time…

For some background and historical information about the song, see what is written at Wikipedia.


The song was inspired by the short story “The Rocket Man” in The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, and echoes the theme of David Bowie’s 1969 song “Space Oddity” (both recordings were produced by Gus Dudgeon). But 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 aeroplane.

The song describes a Mars-bound astronaut’s mixed feelings at leaving his family in order to do his job. Rosenthal’s account goes on to relate that the notion of astronauts no longer being perceived as heroes, but in fact as an “everyday occupation”, led Taupin to the song’s opening lines: “She packed my bags last night, pre-flight. Zero hour: 9 a.m. And I’m gonna be high as a kite by then.”

“Rocket Man” was ranked #242 in the 2004 list of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, though it dropped to #245 in the list’s 2010 revision.

Another song called “Rocket Man” (and also based on Bradbury’s short story “The Rocket Man”)[clarification needed] was released by the musical group Pearls Before Swine on their 1970 album The Use of Ashes. In an interview in Billboard magazine, Taupin acknowledged that the song, written by Tom Rapp, had been a direct inspiration for his own lyrics. Rosenthal’s account indicates that Rapp’s lyrics were inspired by the writings of noted science-fiction author Ray Bradbury. Due to some similarities in Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” some[who?] presume this song might also be an allusion to David Bowie’s character Major Tom. Bowie himself made the connection[citation needed] during live performances of “Space Oddity” in which he called out, “Oh, Rocket Man!”[2][citation needed]

I see a lot of symbolism here.  However, perhaps President Trump just gave the leader of North Korea the CD because they made a connection about it during the first time they met.

Instead of using rockets for the purpose of destruction, a rocket can be used to explore space.  With Trump’s creation of the Space Force, maybe he is showing Kim Jung Un the marvels of using science for good purposes.

Any of us can speculate about possible symbolism.  While reading a brief analysis about Ray Bradbury’s short story, “The Rocket Man,” I found this:

“The Rocket Man”

Astronauts are few in number, so they work whenever they wish and receive high pay. One such “Rocket Man” goes into space for three months at a time, returning to Earth only for three consecutive days to visit his wife and son, Doug. The story is told from the perspective of Doug, who also wants to become a Rocket Man. Doug learns of his father’s constant battle, yearning for the stars while at home and yearning for home while in space. The father has attempted to quit several times, because his long absences have nearly destroyed his relationship with his wife. Before leaving for his final three-month mission, the father makes Doug promise he will never follow in his father’s footsteps. The father takes off into space, vowing that the next trip will be the last, but dies when his rocket falls into the Sun. His wife and son avoid the Sun out of grief and become nocturnal.

Hmmm…the dad in the story makes his son promise that he will never follow in his father’s footsteps.  Though a bit different than the short story version, such a promise sounds like a good piece of advice for Kim Jung Un to follow.

Humor aside, I am praying for the denuclearization deal to become a reality.  We all need to pray for a good outcome that leads to peace.  What a great deal it will be if it leads to avoiding any threat from North Korea, the official end of the war with NK, and the reunification of South and North Korea.


Hat tips to all links.

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3 Responses to “Rocket Man!”

  1. GMpilot Says:

    Let me make this clear: shouting at your enemies is preferable to shooting at them. Only feelings get hurt that way.
    But Kim the Third seems to have used the same strategy his father and grandfather used: smile, talk, shake hands…and not give an inch.
    Do we know where all of their nuclear sites are? Will we have permission to actually enter them? We managed to do that much with Iraq, which didn’t actually have nuclear weapons or the means to fire them more than 2000 miles. We had all that, yet we still went to war with them, and not even for the right reason. Kim, OTOH, already has his nukes, and after working so hard to get them, he’ll never give them up. After all, they were what made him a Big Man on the world stage. With nuclear weapons at his command, he can no longer be safely ignored.

    We haven’t been told exactly what the terms of this Great Deal are, and the blather coming from Pyongyang’s official channels is that they’re unhappy with the follow-up talks with Pompeo, saying its “resolve for denuclearisation…may falter”. They also claimed we made “demands reflecting its gangster-like mindset,” but they say that about every US administration.

    Although Tr*mp loves military shows, I don’t understand why he’s chosen to unilaterally suspend Team Spirit and other military exercises involving the ROK. He didn’t bother to tell this to the Joint Chiefs in advance–and it’s probably just as well, since the biannual RIMPAC exercise was going on even as he kicked their feet out from under them. In the bad old days of us versus the USSR, we never faltered in our commitment to our allies. Our ships and planes and soldiers continued to practice with theirs, just in case. Now, they’re suddenly tremendously expensive?
    But Congress has seen fit to set aside money for a martial parade in D.C. this November!

    Whatever happened to “Trust, but verify”? You used to quote that a lot.
    And for the record, one line from the Elton John song may apply to both men:

    ”I’m not the man they think I am at home, oh no no no”


  2. christinewjc Says:

    It’s a process, GM. It takes time for such monumental accomplishments to come to fruition.

    Do you think that your Prince Obama could ever have done better? He had 8 years to try. He didn’t.


  3. GMpilot Says:

    Funny…I recall Obama’s predecessor declaring “Osama bin Laden—Dead or Alive” and then having 8 years to try. He didn’t succeed because he was too busy trying to maintain the unnecessary war he’d gotten us into in 2003. You may remember that one–when we attacked a country that bin Laden had had nothing to do with, and whose leader had had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11/01.
    The Great Iraqi WMD Hunt: how quaint it seems now, especially since they were never there to begin with.

    Kim doesn’t have to worry whether he’ll be re-elected or not. He knows that all he has to do is wait it out, just as his father and grandfather did. Meanwhile, officials in Washington and Seoul are wondering if there’ll be a Team Spirit 2019 or not; and if Pyongyang decides to test another missile…what then will Tr*mp do?


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