In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?” Check out past installments here.
William Shatner’s take on the classic Elton John/Bernie Taupin tune “Rocket Man” has an awesome power—people know it without ever having heard it. It seems to exist in our culture purely as a punchline, a go-to gag to illustrate the depth to which Shatner’s career had fallen post-Star Trek. And this is a joke everybody’s in on—sources as diverse as Beck (in his video for “Where It’s At“), Freakazoid, and Family Guy have all taken a few shots at Shatner for this one. But is it really so awful?
At the very least, there’s no denying that Shatner’s “Rocket Man” is very, very weird. The man who was Captain Kirk performed this song as a tribute to Bernie Taupin at the 1978 Saturn Awards ceremony, and audiences have wondered why ever since. Before we get too far into discussing this strange cover, let’s take a look at the video.