Rocket Man – two versions

William Shatner introduced by Bernie Taupin

Here’s some commentary by Eric Garneau.

This is not to deny that Shatner’s cover isn’t funny, because it is. But I think it’s more than that. The key to understanding where Bill is coming from here is in how the song is staged—there’s three different Shatners singing, each with a different tone and cadence. Shatner #1 is calm and cool, smoking a cigarette and acting aloof, describing his space-faring job as he might any other profession. Shatner #2 speaks boldly, like he’s channeling the spirit of an adventurer about to conquer the great unknown, but sometimes there’s a crack in his voice or a downturn in his expression that indicates he may be feigning the enthusiasm. Shatner #3 is a dancing fool, totally jubilant about his job—he gets to hang out in outer space! It’s an interesting dissection of the multi-faceted feelings of this song’s narrator,  bolstered by the fact that Starfleet Captain James T. Kirk is the one delivering the lines.

Gotta love Shatner

And now here’s the original performed live in Edinburgh Scotland 1976.


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