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Date: Mon, 9 Dec 1991 10:37:00 -0800
Subject: The "Rocket Man" single--some opinions and suppositions
Dan King is of the opinion that Kate's recording of "Rocket Man" is "danceable", "light" and "fun", and that the cover photo of Kate is therefore inappropriate because she looks "old" and "sad". This opinion is remarkable to IED because it is in complete contrast to his own.
In IED's view Kate's version of "Rocket Man", in large part because of its lilting (but sporadic) reggae-cum-Celtic folk sections and Kate's final, wordless minute of vocals, seemed (at first listen as much as at the tenth) extraordinarily poignant and sad--an extremely sophisticated and eloquent expression of the song's tragic subject.
By contrast, in IED's opinion, the photograph of Kate which Mercury Records put on the single's cover was a bit too cheerful for the tone of Kate's "Rocket Man"--let alone the even more starkly haunting "Candle in the Wind". Still, even there IED agrees with Richard Caley that the shots (there are actually two) are wonderful--they certainly don't make Kate appear "old" to this fan.
IED suspects that they were given to Mercury by Kate and John Carder Bush simply as portrait photographs to be used inside the liner notes of the "Two Rooms" album. (The photo session took place more than two years ago, and the shots are already very familiar to fans.) Then, when Mercury decided to release the song as a single, they opted (perhaps because Kate would or could not provide further artwork on short notice?) simply to blow up the only photos of Kate that they had been given rights to, and use them as the cover art.
Has anyone else noticed that the typographical error (of "Villean" for "Uillean" pipes) in the credits for "Rocket Man" has been corrected--without doubt at Kate's request--on the outer, poster-sleeve of the seven-inch single? The error remains on the single's normal inside sleeve, which we may assume was printed earlier. Does this correction after the fact not suggest that Mercury probably did not invite Kate to review the cover art before the design went to the presses; but that they made the correction after Kate herself saw it in the first pressings that went on sale last month? If this is true, perhaps Mercury did not invite Kate to suggest a cover design, either?
-- Andrew Marvick
From: Ben Siemerink <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 1991 02:23:04 -0800
Subject: Rocket Man Video
The clip is in black and white, so it fits the single cover. Actually her hair is about the same as well. I don't remember the beginning of the clip (until the reggae part) quite well, but I think it was Kate just alone. When the reggae part started, the scene is changed to Kate-with-the-band. I recognized Del Palmer playing the bass, and I saw another familiar face, but I don't know all the people Kate worked with. Maybe someone else knows?
After the Chorus, we see Kate alone again in a space helmet at the left side of the screen, looking to the right. In that scene they played a bit with photographs or something (again I can't remember quite well): the Earth is shown and moved around a little to express something. I'm sorry for this vague description.
During the Chorus, the band is shown again, and in the middle of that there is a rude change to the next clip.
When I saw the first chorus, I found that Kate made too fanatic movements which didn't quite fit to the song (my opinion). During the choruses there were some nice shots of Kate throwing her hair in the wind (they had some wind in the studio!), and turning around with pointing in the air (at the end of the chorus).
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Andrew Russ)
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 1991 17:00:37 -0800
Subject: Re: The "Rocket Man" single--some opinions and suppositions
I got the 12", which has all three songs. Generally sounds fine to me. Only one picture of KaTe--on the front. Face and hands. Smile. Back cover credits the art to the Mercury art staff (and photo to John Carder Bush). Also includes the "Villean Pipes" misspelling. Back cover also has a very small picture of the Two Rooms album cover and the brief statement by KaTe included in the booklet. (and not the one by Sinead O'Connor ... :-))
How do i like it? I like it just fine. Sure, you would all typecast KaTe to sing "Rocket Man", and she does, but not in the way you would expect, which is what i like about the song. The reggae arrangement is interesting, and works for me, but it's not overdone (i.e. no deep space dub mix).
"Candle In the Wind" is interesting too because the instruental backing really doesn't follow the melody of the song, which is instead carried by the voice. The ambient backing vocals are particularly nice to me, but the keyboard fills (the little cadences similar to those used in "This Woman's Work") are trite--my only complaint. When i first heard the CD single all the way through, i was really surprised at how different the instrumental version sounded from the vocal, merely with the subtraction of the vocals. This instrumental is almost as interesting to me as "Dreamtime", because it also functions well in opposition to its vocal nonidentical twin. At first i was reminded of Wire's "It's a Boy"--another song with a vastly different instrumental mix (but KaTe doesn't get quite so extreme). For me the reaction on first hearing the instrumental version was one of noticing something that i hadn't noticed in the vocal version because i was paying attention to the vocal track. I like that.
Not a major work, but a thoughtful and interesting one.
I'll also point out that KaTe didn't change the gender in "Candle in the Wind", either. You might also want to check out Sandy Denny's cover of "Candle In the Wind", from her 1973 album Rendezvous (reissued five years ago by Hannibal). Again the voice carries the melody, but the instumentation is much more standard.
Note that the 7" only has the two vocal tracks, th 12" is generally less expensive than the CD single (i paid $7.49 versus $9.99), but do ask to look at your copy of the 12" before leaving the store. The first store i went to had 4 copies, all of which were messed up: two had a serious mark on the instrumental "Candle in the Wind" and a third had some junk glued in a line across the disc. The third just had some discoloration, which i'm told comes from putting hot vinyl into the sleeve without letting it cool first. The copy i eventually did get has this discoloration, and sounds excellent. I did make a point of getting the 12" since i read here that KaTe (or maybe Del or maybe both) are analog freaks. Maybe we can start a thread of record versus CD quality for this release (also--email me--has anyone compared record versus CD copies of The Sensual World LP that everyone has complained about?)
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 1991 13:22:05 -0800
From: viewpnt!echelon!henrik@uunet.UU.NET (Larry DeLuca)
Subject: Candle in the Wind
It's really too bad that they didn't put this on the album instead of "Rocket Man".
It's a much better cover, IMHO.
And I would have loved to have seen the video. You-know-who in a platinum wig, posing in a skirt over a grate, and then tearfully waving goodbye from her spaceship, and maybe even throwing in a "Wuthering Heights"-ish cartwheel or two.
When she sang "Like a Candle in the Wind" she could pantomime lighting a candle, accidentally blowing it out, and then her tears could become the rain...
PS: Keef, where are you when we need you?
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 1991 16:07:57 -0800
From: boris@monsoon.Berkeley.EDU (Boris Chen)
Subject: Re: Candle in the Wind
Yes, Kate has released her singles, and lots of love-hound are howling. Contrary to the seeming majority opinion, I think that both covers (I got the 7" beauty) are excellent.
Let me start with Candle in the Wind. There's been complaints about her voice, her instumentation, etc. I think that her voice is fine, as fine as it was in the Sensual World. She expresses all the emotion and feeling of the sadness that the song expresses. The instrumentation is subtle and undominating, and furthermore compliments Kate's voice nicely. I don't see the sin in using synthesizers, only the abuse of synths, and in this case, the synths are used rather poignantly in giving the song and overall ethereal feel. The background vocals also compliment the main vocal line well by enhancing the emotional power and impact of the song -- coming in when needed and being absent when it ought.
As for Rocket Man, I have to agree with IED in that the song is one of sadness. The begining is certainly testimony to this and, though the major key can be deceiving, the rest of the song follows the prelude in suit. I think the "reggae" beat is an excellent idea in terms of updating this classic, and it certainly isn't obstrusive. It is a wonderful addition to the song, and after hearing it, I wonder how the song could have done without it. The way she performs makes the song flow really well. We get the full effect and the full range of the climaxes and diminuation that make the song so interesting, and so touching.
Again, her singing is as good as it has been in recent years (though I second the motion that she give up smoking, since her voice is definitely more raspy than her younger self). I think that the ethinic instrumentation gave the song her artistic stamp while combining well with everything else.
About both songs, I have to say that I am glad that she covered them as she did. She did it in a conventional style that was not too conventional, and that kept clear of the cliche. The covers showed her trademark spark of inginuity, without going overboard in trying to be different and creative (she didn't try geting Bulgarian singers with helicopter sounds and weird voices in the background).
On a final point, I'd like to say something about the cover. The cover actually, to me, strikes me as rather strange. She's not really smiling or frowning, it has been described as sad, but I think it is something that is less easily pigeonholed. Though I can't say what I think it conveys (it only strikes me as disturbing, since I can't figure it out), I think it is decent cover for the single, though I cant say that it is one of JC Bush's better works. The only reason she looks old (as some say) is probably due to the fact that in most of her pictures, her skin is so washed out, either by makeup or lighting, that you don't often see though dimples on each side of her mouth, or the lines around her eyes. If you ever see the picture disk for This Woman's Work (I just got that also), you'll see the same picture (or near same) except with higher contrast, and thus she looks younger. The poster included with the 7" has one of her grinning slightly. And I can't help but laugh a little every time I see it. I can't explain why.
All in all, she did a great job. I think that these songs rank up there with Cloudbusting and Experiment IV, and I wait with bated breath for her soon to be released album.
From: email@example.com (Stephen Thomas)
Date: 14 Dec 91 16:26:33 GMT
Subject: Kate Radio 1 Interview
I've just raced over from listening to an interview with Kate on Radio 1. It was mostly talking about "Rocket Man", of course. I recorded it and will post a full transcription later tonight, but for the moment, there are two pieces of news to impart to hungry Hounds
1) She will be performing Rocket Man on "Wogan" on Monday.
2) It appears that the new album will be released, quote, "next year" (groan!), perhaps in the middle or later part. She wouldn't be anymore definite than that. She wouldn't be drawn on what it would be like, but did say that it's one of her quickest (!) since she's only been working on it for the past year.
One last thing. On the "Wogan" performance, there will be an empty chair with a guitar laid on it, in remembrance of Alan Murphy.
Keep well, Stephen
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Stephen Thomas)
Date: 14 Dec 91 21:17:24 GMT
Subject: Transcription of Kate Interview
This is a transcript of an interview with Kate by BBC Radio 1. It was aired on Saturday 14th December, at about 3:50pm. This transcription was done by Stephen Thomas. The interview itself is mostly pre-recorded, as shall become obvious. I don't know who the interviewer was, as I never listen to Radio 1 unless it's a very special occasion :).
K = Kate, I = Interviewer.
["Don't Give Up" is played]
I: Such a good track, Peter Gabriel, "Don't Give Up". It was Jonathan King who said in one of his columns that that sort of middle verse that Peter Gabriel sings in that song he reckoned was one of the finest male vocal performances of the year, and it certainly was, and there was some pretty good singing, too, from Kate Bush on that, who's been keeping something of a low profile, but how nice it is to see Kate Bush back in the charts. She's number 12 this week with her version of "Rocket Man", and we caught up with her a couple of days [ago] when she was rehearsing to perform that song on next Monday's Terry Wogan show. And my first question to her was how long it had been since she'd last done a TV appearance?
K: Oh, it must be just over two years.
I: Now, we get the feeling that you've, sort of, been hiding away from things.
K: I don't know about hiding away, but I really only like to present myself when I'm working on something - it's more my work I like to present to the world rather than myself. I mean, I feel that it's really what people are interested in, is my music. So it really depends on whether I have any music out at the time as to whether I do any television or promotion.
I: Now you have a record out that's in the charts at the moment - we'll come to that in a sec. But everytime I sort of read magazines like "Q", or something, and they say who's in the studios, it's Kate Bush, still working on her new album [Kate laughs softly]. I mean, is it taking longer than you'd like, or that you though, or what?
K: Albums always take longer than I think, and actually this is one of the quickest ones for years. It's not finished, but I've been working on it about a year, and I hope to have it finished next year. But on average, I'd say I'm spending two to three years on every album, and it's incredibly frustrating. I don't know why it takes so long - I wish it didn't, but the tracks seem to evolve, and although it all starts very straight-forwardly and simply, and halfway through the album I never know if I'm going to be able to finish it, and it's all got too large on me [I think - there was a burst of interference at this point] or it starts to evolve and ends up as whatever it is.
I: So when do you think it'll actually be released?
K: Well, next year, I would like it next year. I can't say when, because it sort of depends what else we want to do next year, as to whether it be, er ... it wouldn't be the early part of next year, but maybe middle to latter part.
I: Now, you're on this wonderful tribute album to Elton John and Bernie Taupin, and did you have a list of which songs were available to choose from. How's the choice work?
K: I was really knocked out to be asked to get involved in this project, because I was such a big fan of Elton's when I was little - I really loved his stuff, he was my biggest hero, really, and when I was just starting to write songs he was the only songwriter that I knew of that played the piano and sung, and wrote songs, so he was very much my idol. And one of my favourite songs of his was "Rocket Man". Now, if I'd have known then that I would have been asked to be involved in this project, I think I would have just died! And in some ways, I owe it to myself, as that little girl to give her the priviledge of doing this as well as myself now. And they basically said, would we like to be involved and I could choose which track I wanted, and because "Rocket Man" was my favourite I hoped it hadn't gone, actually - I hoped no-one else was going to do it.
I: And what about the arrangement of it, which is very different to the original.
K: Well, yes I suppose so. I actually haven't heard the original for a very long time, a long long time! [laughs] And it was just I wanted to do it differently; I do think if you cover records, you should try and make them different - it's like remaking movies, you've got to try and give it something that makes it worth re-releasing. And the reggae treatment just seemed to happen, really. I just tried to put the chords together on the piano, and it just seemed to want to take off in the choruses, so we gave it the reggae treatment.
I: And now, all of a sudden, it's a hit single.
K: Well, yes, and it's even more extraordinary, because we actually recorded the track over two years ago, probably just after my last telly appearance! And we were quite astounded when they wanted to release it as a single just recently. What's very nice is that the guitarist that played on the track, Alan Murphy, who was our guitarist at the time, died not long after the track was made. So this was one of the last things that he did with us, and it's particularly nice for me to feel that it's not only keeping him alive, but I know that he would be really thrilled to know it was doing so well, and it's nice for all of us that loved Al to know that he can be a part of this now.
["Rocket Man" is played]
I: Now, there's been an awful lot of change has gone on in the world - I'm not talking about the world of music - over the last couple of years, since your last album. Is this changed you [sic] as well? Will this mean the next Kate Bush album will be very different from the last one, do you think?
K: I think you're absolutely right. I think there's been so much change in the world in this two year period. Everyone I know has been changed by it, it's impossible not to. If you don't change with it, I don't think you could survive it. Everyone's changed, I've definitely changed. I've been very affected by these last two years; they've been incredibly intense years for me. Maybe not on a work level, but a lot has happened to me. I feel I've learnt a lot. And I think yes, I think this album is going to be quite different. Yeah, I do.
I: Can you give us any other clues, as to ...?
K: It's impossible, I think, to talk about music, especially before it's completed or people have heard it, because it's a very personal interpretation. For me, it's like a painting. You would never talk about a painting before you've seen it. It's only when you see the painting, you then talk about it. So, I really hope that people like it, I hope the people that are waiting for it feel it's worth the wait and I really hope people out there like it.
I: Well, it's going to be lovely to actually see you on the Wogan show on Monday, so lot's of luck with that.
K: Well, thank you very much. It's really nice to be here and to be back, and I would just like to say thank you to everyone who's received this single so warmly. It means a lot to me, you know, I didn't think I'd have a single out for at least a year because we're still working on the album, so it's a very nice surprise, and I've had such nice feedback about all levels to do with this, so thank you very much, everyone, and have a great Christmas!
["Running Up That Hill" is played]
[The interview proper stops after that, but makes some comments about meeting Kate that are interesting ...]
I: Kate Bush, and "Running Up That Hill". And Phil Ross, the producer of this programme, and I were just in this tiny little dressing room at TV Centre when Kate was rehearsing for Monday's Wogan show, and we were slurping cups of tea together. We were only there for about ten minutes, and Thursday was just this manic day of running around and doing all sorts of different stuff, but walked out of the dressing room after spending ten minutes in the company of Kate Bush just feeling so good! She's one of those people, you know, that you meet and she makes you feel great. Certainly one of the special people, and I look forward to next year, whenever the album comes out - she wouldn't be any more specific than it'll be next year. And I'm sure she'll be our guest on the programme to introduce tracks from the album when it does come out. And don't miss the Wogan show on Monday, see Kate Bush singing "Rocket Man", and you will see on set, I believe, an empty chair with just a guitar placed on it, and that's the chair that Alan Murphy would have sat in.
From: email@example.com (Matt Clifton)
Date: Sun, 15 Dec 1991 15:52:05 GMT
Subject: ** Interview : 14/12/91 **
On Saturday, Radio 1's Johnnie Walker show broadcast a short interview he did with her at about 10 to 4 in the afternoon. Knowing how highly you chaps (and chapesses) across the pond prize new information and soforth, I thought you might like a transcript. One for IED's collection, anyway. Here we go.
(Don't Give Up is played.)
I: ...(DJ preamble)...I caught up with Kate as she was rehearsing for this Monday's Wogan show...my first question to her was how long it had been since her last TV appearance.
K: Oh, it must be just over two years.
I: Now, one would get the feeling that you'd been hiding away from things.
K: I dunno about hiding away...but I only really like to present myself when I'm working on something: it's more my work that I like to present to the world rather than myself - I mean, I feel that is really what people are interested in...so it really depends on whether I have any music out at the time as to whether I do any televisional promotion.
I: Now you have a record out that's in the charts at the moment... we'll come to that in a sec...but - every time I read magazines like Q or something, and they say who's in the studios...'Is Kate Bush still working on her new album'...I mean, is it taking longer than you'd like, or than you thought?
K: Albums always take longer than I think...and, actually, this is one of the quickest ones for years...it's not finished, but I've been working on it for about a year, and I hope to have it finished next year, but on average I'd say that I'm spending 2-3 years on each album, and it's incredibly frustrating. I don't know why it takes so long - I wish it didn't - the tracks seem to evolve, and although it all starts very straightforwardly, and simply, halfway through the album I never know whether I'm going to finish it, and it's all got too big for me, and then it starts to evolve and ends up as whatever it is.
I: So when do you think it'll actually be released?
K: Well...next year, I can't say when because it depends what else we want to do next year. It wouldn't be the early part, but maybe the middle to latter part.
I: Now you're on this tribute album to Elton John and Bernie Taupin...did you have a list of which songs were available to choose from?... how did the choice work?
K: I was really knocked out to be asked to get involved in this project, because I was a big fan of Eltons when I was little, I really loved his stuff...he was my biggest hero, really. When I was just starting to write songs, he was the only songwriter that I knew of that played the piano, and sung, and wrote songs, so he was very much my idol, and one of my favourite songs was 'Rocket Man'...Now, if I7d have known then that I'd be asked to be involved in this project, then I think I would have just died - in some ways I owe it to myself as that little girl to give her the privilege of doing this as well as for myself now. They basically said, would we like to be involved and I could choose which track I wanted, and because 'Rocket Man' was my favourite, I hoped it hadn't gone actually, I hoped no-one else was going to do it.
I: And what about the arrangement of it, which is very different to the original?
K: Um...well, yes, I suppose so, I actually haven't heard the original for a very long time...a long, long time..(laughs)..and I wanted to do it differently, I do think that if you cover records you should try and make them different, it's like remaking movies..you've got to give it something that makes it worth rereleasing. The reggae treatment just seemed to happen really, I just tried to put the chords together on the piano and they just seemed to want to take off in the choruses so we gave it a sort of reggae treatment.
I: And now all of a sudden it's a hit single.
K: Well, yes, and it's even more extraordinary because we recorded the track over two years ago...probably just after my last telly appearance, and we were quite astounded when they wanted to release it as a single just recently. The guitarist who played on the track, Alan Murphy, died not long after the track was made, so this was one of the last things he did with us, and it's particularly nice for me to feel that it's not only keeping him alive, but I know that he would be really thrilled to know that it was doing so well, and it's nice for all of us that loved Al to know that he can be a part of this now.
(Rocket Man is played.)
I: Now, there's been an awful lot of change has gone on in the world - I'm not talking about the world of music - over the last couple of years, since your last album - has this changed you as well...will this mean that the next Kate Bush album will be very different from the last one?
K: Um...I think you're absolutely right, there's been so much change in the world in this two-year period, everyone I know has been changed by it - it's impossible not to, if you don't change with it, I don't think you could survive it. Everyone's changed - I've definitely changed, I've been very affected by these last two years, they've been an incredibly intense two years for me, maybe not on a work level, but - a lot has happened to me, I feel I've learnt a lot. And yes - I think this album is going to be quite different. Yeah, I do.
I: Can you give us any other clues as to...er..
K: Er..it's always very..it's impossible, I think, to talk about music, especially before it's completed or people have heard it, because it's a very personal interpretation ; for me it's like a painting - you would never talk about a painting before you've seen it, it's only when you see it you talk about it..er, I really hope that people like it, I hope the people that are waiting for it feel it's worth the wait.
I: Well, it's going to be lovely to see you on the Wogan show on Monday, so lots of luck with it.
K: Well, thank you very much, it's really nice to be here and to be back and I would just like to say thankyou to everyone who's received the single so warmly, it means a lot to me, I didn't think I'd have a single out for at least a year, because we're still working on the album, so it's a very nice surprise. I've had such nice feedback to do with all levels of this, so thank you very much everyone, and have a great Christmas.
(Running Up That Hill is played.)
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mike Quinn)
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 1991 12:24:46 GMT
Subject: Kate talks on Radio 1
Timeline: Saturday 14th December 1991, 3:50pm
Station: BBC Radio 1 (UK National Pop Station)
Show: Johnny Walker Saturday Show (bills as 'best of album-oriented music')
JW refers to the DJ Johnny Walker. KB refers to Kate.
From: email@example.com (S.P.Thomas)
Date: 17 Dec 91 12:10:27 GMT
Subject: Re: KATE ON WOGAN?
Well, I'd have thought someone else would have posted by now, but...
She looked quite good! I thought it was quite a simple performance, and I think it was lip-synched. Apart from herself, there was three other people on state - Del, on bass, Charlie Morgan (I presume?) on drums, and someone else (?) playing a small-accordian. Kate herself was playing what for the sake of argument shall be called a Eukalele :-). There was also a chair at the back with a guitar on it ... Alan Murphy's symbolic presence.
She was wearing a black velvet two-piece suit, the skirt of which came to just below the knee. The top was quite low cut - not as low cut as her outfit in the Hammer Horror video, but getting that way! As is normal, she *oozed* femeninity (sp??) from every pore (some would say sexuality, but I prefer femeninity :-).
The performance itself was grand, if I'm any judge, but I did think that maybe, just maybe, she didn't look quite as fresh-faced as she used to. Her hair, btw, was ... um ... artistically disarranged. I haven't managed to see the video yet, so I can't compare the performance to that.
I was watching it with a friend who happens to be more an Elton John than Kate Bush fan, and she liked it. She thought the reggae treatment worked quite well, and all in all, it was a good cover.
Keep well, Stephen
From: Scott Telford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 1991 08:00:47 -0800
Subject: Kate on Wogan
The "Rocket Man" set on Wogan was pretty much the same as the band scenes in the RM video, except that Davey Spillane and his Uillean pipes weren't there. I would have thought that they could have got somebody to stand in for him - I'm sure Paddy could have done as convincing a performance on the pipes as he did with the cello at the '86 BPI awards....8^) (he could've worn one of his funny hats too!)
Predictably, the set was dark with an unconvincing starry background and lots of tinfoil round the edges. The photographic direction was pretty lousy, given that it was almost certainly a pre-recorded performance. KaTe didn't seem quite as relaxed as I've seen her before, neither did Alistair Anderson (the concertinist). Del and Charlie (I think it looked like Charlie) seemed to be enjoying themselves though - when the Uillean pipes started, Del looked as if he was going to break into an Irish jig!
As Stephen describes, Kate was wearing a dark skirt suit (as in the video) but this time wearing tights and high heels. She wiggled her way through the choruses again, but this time a bit slower, which seemed to match the music better. She also seemed to strum her toy guitar/ukelele in time to the music, something she didn't quite achieve in the video 8^)
They were faded out after about 4 minutes. Can't a 5 minute single get played in its entirity *anywhere*?
Date: Thu, 19 Dec 1991 01:30:33 -0800
From: email@example.com (Steve VanDevender)
Subject: Rocket Man
I have finally been able to listen to Kate's cover of "Rocket Man" and study it in detail.
It passes two important tests: I got the tingly feeling the first few times I listened to it, and I not only can stand to listen to it over and over again, but really want to.
There has been some argument lately over whether Kate's cover of "Rocket Man" communicates the overall feeling of sadness that some people are saying is fundamental to the song. I think that these people are missing the true genius of Kate's interpretation, whether they say the song successfully communicates a feeling of sadness or that its seemingly light-hearted melody is at odds with the sad tone they think the lyric requires. In that Kate does successfully evoke sadness when she thinks the song requires it, the first group is right; however, they do not discuss the ways in which the song communicates joy, and the opposing threads of joy and sadness that run through the song. Kate's interpretation of the song disappoints those who think it should be sad throughout, but I consider her interpretation more balanced and realistic, as well as artistically more interesting.
She packed my bag last night, pre-flight
Zero hour, nine AM
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
The first two verses of the song are accompanied by somber, sparse music, and sung with a corresponding sense of wistfulness. They frame a period prior to the Rocket Man's flight, a time when he is apparently feeling anxious, and anticipating the unpleasant aspects of his trip. However, note that he says that he will be "high as a kite" during the actual launch--a phrase usually used to indicate a feeling of intense joy.
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
Burning out his fuse
Up here alone
The chorus is introduced with a change of the musical accompaniment--the music becomes more upbeat and has the controversial reggae beat. Kate's vocals here are also stronger and happier, and they reflect the joy that the Rocket Man feels in his job--a joy tinged by his loneliness, which Kate also expresses deftly.
Mars ain't the kind of place to raise the 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
These verses return to a more somber tone, and they reflect the isolation and harshness of space, and the times when the Rocket Man feels only the boredom of his duty.
The final choruses, and the closing vocals of the song, continue to waver between joy and sadness, and emphasize the aspect of "a long, long time." In particular, the wordless vocals at the end express this combination of joy and longing perfectly.
To me, Kate's version of "Rocket Man" is not intended to be purely a song of sadness--it instead tries to communicate the entire emotional experience of this rocket pilot. He is anxious in preparing for a launch, exhilarated by the launch and the beauty of space, depressed by the tedium and isolation of the journey. When in space, he misses his home and family--and after touchdown, he misses the grandeur of spaceflight.
Date: Thu, 19 Dec 1991 09:45:22 -0800
Subject: Rocketman Video hoax = interpretation
I posted this some weeks ago and everyone yawned. Chris figures we burned up our credibility with the hoaxing-glut. For those who haven't seen the real video, I think this plays better in the mind's eye, and offers a view of the sad/happy complementarity. (The Marcus Garvey trap was so that someone else would make the Neuromancer connection-- a spaceship full o' dreads smoking ganja...)
When C&V got their PAL player hooked up last month, one happy discovery was a few extra minutes of footage from the VH-1 special, on the PAL cassette (autographed!) I won at the Kon last year.
But over the weekend Chris noticed that the PAL case was engineered oddly, allowing it to be *flipped*, and on the "B" side was...
A ROCKET MAN VIDEO!!!
It looks like a rough cut, or maybe just an animated storyboard-- the FX are *really* cheap.
It opens with a closeup of Kate's sad face in comic Elton-goggles, framed in a space helmet, lip-syncing, zooming out to show she's suited up and strapped inside a capsule. There are stars outside the window, and many cute little decorations in the interior that we'll have to look at single-frame to identify. (There's definitely a videoscreen with a Fresnel overlay, though!)
When she sings "high as a kite by then" a spaceship floats past the window, the name readable as "Marcus Garvey" (???)
She's sad again, but they dock, and as she boards their ship, there are Gary and Stewart (and the band in the background, as the reggae kicks in) all in dreadlock-wigs! And they're partying, and she tries to join in, and dances kind of half-heartedly, still looking sad, and silly in those goggles.
The 'dreads' are funny and try to cheer her up, and she almost gets into it, but then as "burnin out his fuse up here alone" sounds, the ship vanishes and she's floating in a vast field of stars (even as cheesy as it looks, you can feel the awe).
But then the dreads come floating up to her in patchwork spacesuits too, boogie-ing in the emptiness, and she tries to resist again but gets swept up, finally cracks a smile, starts to wriggle like Barbarella (!) or something, and then there's the second strum, and they all freeze, looking at her, expectantly, waiting as she sings a couple more sad lines, but then she notices, and grins slyly and starts wiggling again, and there's a series of cuts showing different dreads doing silly things in space as the music fades. (Watch for Paddy!)
So what is this, dreads in space? Is it about "getting high"? And why Marcus Garvey??? (Why does this sound so familiar?)
Anyway, Chris has the tape down in KC today, dubbing it to NTSC, so confirm with your immediate pyramid-superior about sending a blank tape, and you should all have a copies RSN.
From: Harry Foster <foster@convex.COM>
Date: Sun, 22 Dec 1991 09:09:05 -0800
Subject: Pains The Price She Paid
To me, "Candle In The Wind" was the pinnacle of Elton John. His greatest achievement and contribution. His reason for existence. KaTe has taken the song to a new height of emotion, and pain, and suffering. Gone are the flashy dynamics and percussion, and gone are the stark background vocals. Yet what remains in its simplicity was a deep anguish and longing which touched me. Could she have done better ? Is it only B-side quality ? I don't know. But I've open my heart as well as my ears, and I let KaTe fill me with emotion ...
"Loneliness was tough.
The toughest role you ever played.
Hollywood created a superstar
And pains the price you paid." -Bernie Taupin
There are times when I think Gaffa's created a superstar. Yet in all the hubbub, never takes the time to listen.
She *still* is! --Harry Foster
From: Scott Telford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 1991 09:46:22 -0800
Subject: Kate on Wogan
The set on Wogan was much the same as the band scenes in the video except that Davey and his pipes were nowhere to be seen - I would've thought Paddy could've stepped into the breach if Davey wasn't available. The photographic direction was poor and KaTe didn't seem as relaxed as I've seen her before. Kate wiggled and strummed her way through the choruses with her ukelele(?), but a bit slower than in the video.
Date: Sat, 18 Jan 1992 12:39:48 -0800
From: email@example.com (Ed Suranyi)
Subject: "Stereo Review" reviews "Two Rooms"
In the Feb. issue of Stereo Review there is quite a good review of Two Rooms. Here's an excerpt:
"The album not only holds up as terrific entertainment but in several cases makes the material come alive in a new way. Kate Bush's version of Rocket Man, for instance, uses her ethereal, otherworldly whisper to bring out the loneliness and fear an astronaut in space might readily experience."
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (ronald hill)
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 92 18:29:57 PDT
Subject: ELTON JOHN Candle In The Wind/Rocket Man quotes
I wrote to the Elton John mailing list and asked if anyone could provide any quotes from Elton/Bernie about Rocket Man and Candle in the Wind. A nice fellow named Ron McBay sent me these.
RE: CANDLE IN THE WIND
(From the TWO ROOMS book) - BERNIE: I never get tired of hearing "Candle In The Wind." There are some of our songs that are the perfect mesh of lyric and melody and I think "Candle In The Wind" is one of them. The only thing that bothers me about the song is that as a result people tend to think that I have a raging obsession with Marilyn Monroe which was not the point of the song. The point of the song was how the media distorts people's lives. It's a bit like "Daniel," people are not left alone, and that's really what "Candle In The Wind" was about. It's a song about media abuse. How we abuse the living, how we abuse the dead. I'm not saying she wasn't talented, but sometimes it pays to die -- that's what that song's about.
(From THE MANY LIVES OF ELTON JOHN book) - ELTON: It was so hard to record. The only way I recorded that in the end is that we put the piano on afterward. It was the first vocal I'd ever recorded standing up, and after that the piano, guitar, drums were put on. It was such a hard song to do because it's not a typical piano number and I actually sang the number leaping around the microphone and going crazy.
(From the ELTON JOHN biography) - BERNIE: I wanted to say that it wasn't just a sex thing. That she was someone everybody could fall in love with, without her being out of reach.
(From same) - ELTON: When I think of Marilyn, I just think of pain. I can't ever imagine her being that happy.
RE: ROCKET MAN
(From the ELTON JOHN biography) - BERNIE: The words just came into my head: "She packed my bags last night, pre-flight. Zero-hour is nine am." I remember jumping out of the car and running into my parents' house, shouting, "Please don't anyone talk to me until I've written this down."
(From same) - When asked whether they stole "Rocket Man" from David Bowie's "Space Oddity," BERNIE: Oh no. We didn't steal that one from Bowie. We stole it from another bloke, called Tom Rapp [leader of the American cult band, Pearls Before Swine, who had released an earlier song also called "Rocket Man."]
From: email@example.com (ronald hill)
Date: Wed, 25 Aug 93 19:47:36 PDT
Subject: Candle in the Wind Video
I talked to Andy (IED) the other day and he said that he heard in the fan Mag "Watching Storms" that some guy who sells rare Kate Bush video (I don't remember the name but IED said he's been around a long time) said that he has a TV performance of Kate doing Candle In the Wind. IED couldn't find the guys number. Now, I don't think this is likely, as a matter a fact I find it extremely Unlikely that she could do this and not have any of us know about it, but I though I'd mention it. Odds are it's probably the "Wogan" Rocket Man.
On to Collaborations
written by Love-Hounds
compiled and edited
Sept 1995 June 1996