The I’m Still Standing star made the special tribute to the rocket men of the European Space Agency during his Million Dollar Piano Show in Las Vegas. Thanks to a special link-up, the show was aired live to the space station, an idea that came to famed pianist after he heard how Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers had celebrated the song’s anniversary by playing the track over the onboard radio of the International Space Station.
Kuipers said the song has over the years been an inspiration to people interested in space and in becoming astronauts like himself, adding that it is one of the most-played songs on the International Space Station’s airways, no doubt along with David Bowie‘s Space Oddity.
Elton himself said the song, which reached number two in 1972, was written about his “boyhood dreams of traveling beyond the stars”.
“After the single was released,” he added, “my band and I were invited to the Nasa HQ. It was thrilling to find real astronauts liked our song about a fictional astronaut.”
The song tells the story of a man who misses his wife and Earth as he works “five days a week” and experiences extreme loneliness “up here alone”. Unlike common perceptions of astronauts being heroes, the song suggests that it is just an ordinary job.
At the time, just three years after the first moon landing, the singer explained that his generation was “smitten” with space travel.
“Now, 40 years later, it’s amazing to hear from the astronauts at the European Space Agency that they like the song and that it has been on the playlist on the International Space Station,” he added.
“I send my best wishes to Esa and all the crew, and my thanks for keeping those boyhood dreams alive.”
Rocket Man appeared on John’s 1972 album Honky Chateau, Elton’s fifth studio record which was ranked in Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums of all time list.
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