I’ve had this song on my mind for the last 24 hours. I heard it for the first time a couple weeks ago, on my way to my orthodontist appointment. The radio station was having one of those contests where they play a snippet of a song and if you know what the song is based on that little snippet, then you win. Anyway, I would not have won because I’d never heard this song before in my life. And I like to think I know a lot of obscure ’80s music. A humbling experience, to be sure.
“If I Had a Rocket Launcher” by Bruce Cockburn
Nor had I ever heard of Bruce Cockburn. Apparently he’s Canadian. Maybe he’s big in Canada. I don’t know. I apologize for my ignorance if he’s, like, Canada’s most beloved musical superstar. No insult to Canada intended! It’s a good song. I was almost late for my orthodontist appointment because I was just sitting in my car in the parking lot listening to it, mostly out of curiosity. Because how does a song called “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” not make you curious? But I wasn’t late. Everything turned out fine. Happy ending for me–unlike the poor folks in this song, which was inspired by Mr. Cockburn’s visits to Guatemalan refugee camps.
So, yeah, I’ve been randomly singing about having a rocket launcher since yesterday and thinking, you know, there just aren’t a lot of songs about rocket launchers, hypothetical or otherwise. It does remind me of other songs about rockets.
Like this one.
“Rocket Man” by Elton John
I’m not sure how I feel about this song. I’m not going to hear it on the radio and cry, “‘Rocket Man’! All right!” and crank it up and sing along. But it’s still a good song. Makes one reminisce about the days when Elton John’s music wasn’t crap. My favorite part has always been the second verse: 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. Because it’s true–Mars sounds cool, but no one ever thinks about the children.
While I was in college they (of the mysterious “Them”) released an album of Elton John songs covered by other artists, and “Rocket Man” was done by Kate Bush. I thought it would be great because I’m a Kate Bush fan and this seemed like the perfect song for her, but her version was actually pretty boring, I thought. Not much pizzazz at all. Unlike this song by her, which I think is really cool. It features David Gilmour on guitar, if that’s any inducement to listen. If you don’t know who David Gilmour is, then I suppose it isn’t any inducement at all.
“Rocket’s Tail” by Kate Bush
So I was wondering what other songs I knew about rockets, and I was reminded of this song, which I guess isn’t technically about a rocket but about rocketing, since “rocket” is used as a verb.
“Rocket 2 U” by The Jets
Ever wonder what he means by “rocket” in this context? Yeah, me neither. Never been a big fan of this song, although the video is delightfully eighty-licious. Pure trivia moment: The Jets were a bunch of Mormon kids. Which is the sort of factoid that makes you go, “Huh.” Anyway, this is where my Mormon-ness pays its Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-esque dividends because back before I got married, my (Mormon) roommate’s (Mormon) boyfriend was roommates with one of those (Mormon) guys from the Jets. I don’t know which one. I wasn’t a big Jets aficionado, so I didn’t didn’t know the difference between one and another and didn’t really care. I never actually had occasion to meet him. It was just another factoid that made me go, “Huh.” For what it’s worth, I think he was supposed to be a nice guy. But they were probably all nice. I mean, they certainly seem wholesome enough (all talk of “rocketing” that they can do “all night” notwithstanding).
But thinking about the act of “rocketing” reminded me of this song by Bob Geldof, his first musical venture after Live Aid, not remotely related to Africa.
“Love Like a Rocket” by Bob Geldof
While watching this video, two things came to mind. Actually, three things.
1. Could it be any more obvious that they’re miming?
2. Bob Geldof looks uncomfortable.
3. This isn’t that great a song.
Which last thing is interesting because I remembered liking it back in the day. Maybe I just wanted to like it because I felt Bob Geldof had earned the right to some non-humanitarian success. And what has become of Bob Geldof these days? I was about to look him up, but then I thought it would probably be a better idea to find out what’s become of Ethiopia.
The comments section is open for your comments about songs about rockets.