Did Rocket Man only work five days a week?

Scott Feschuk fact-checks the outrageous claims made by Elton John, Meatloaf, and others

Photo illustration by Sarah MacKinnon

Photo illustration by Sarah MacKinnon

A couple of years ago, this column launched a fearless investigation into one of the pressing issues of our time: Were claims made in 1980s song lyrics true or false? This week, the intrepid journalism continues. It’s time to fact-check the hits of the 1970s.

All this science I don’t understand /

It’s just my job five days a week /

A rocket man, a rocket man

Rocket Man, Elton John

Wait, this dude is an astronaut, right? Pretty sure he understands science. Even in the 1970s, they weren’t signing up a lot of Rocket Men who thought Newton’s first law was: Figs are delicious. If this guy was truly clueless about science, he was either the worst astronaut ever or a future Conservative MP.

Also, just for the record, not a lot of astronauts are sticklers for getting the weekend off and other labour laws. “Uh, Houston, we have a problem—I’m about to land this lunar module on the moon but it’s time for my 15-minute break, so I’m going to get Angie the bartender to cover for me.”

Don’t hang on /

Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky

Dust in the Wind, Kansas

Creationists and evolutionists typically find little common ground, but both agree that neither the Earth nor the celestial dome we perceive as “the sky” will truly last forever. Read a book, Kansas.

There must be 50 ways /

To leave your lover /

Just slip out the back, Jack /

Make a new plan, Stan

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, Paul Simon

Thanks to this song, men around the world laboured for years under the mistaken belief that when breaking up with a girlfriend, they had no choice but to rhyme their method of departure with their given name. This proved fatal to many Latino men named Chuicide.

Thunder only happens when it’s raining.

Dreams, Fleetwood Mac

This was only one of the meteorological lies told to us by Stevie Nicks. Ever try to actually see your reflection in a snow-covered hill? IMPOSSIBLE.

I wanna rock and roll all night /

And party every day

Rock and Roll All Nite, Kiss

No, you don’t. You want to party while rock and rolling, not the morning after rock and rolling. Your friends have, like, jobs. You’re going to have to party with the seniors who hang out at the mall food court. And what will you party to if the rock and rolling ended at sunrise? Alt country? Jesus, think it through.

If I could save time in a bottle /

The first thing that I’d like to do /

Is to save every day /

Til eternity passes away /

Just to spend them with you

Time in a Bottle, Jim Croce

Really? Given the power to preserve and control the very contours of time, I’m pretty sure the first thing on the agenda of most men would be to skip ahead to the day when everyone finally has a jetpack.

Nothing’s gonna touch you /

in these golden years.

Golden Years, David Bowie

Things that will actually touch you in your golden years: the climax of Cocoon; Hallmark cards, for some reason; well-meaning Boy Scouts; the proctologist; the icy hand of death.

I want you /

I need you /

But there ain’t no way /

I’m ever gonna love you /

Now don’t be sad /

’Cause two out of three ain’t bad

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad, Meat Loaf

In numeric terms, the most accurate expression of “ain’t bad”—i.e., an occurrence that is neither good nor bad—is 50 per cent. Whereas the scenario described in the song by Mr. Loaf yields a positivity outcome of 66.67 per cent. The available options? Change the title to Two Out of Three Is Pretty Decent, Actually—or rewrite the chorus for mathematical accuracy, including a second thing that the song’s protagonist is also never going to do:

I want you /

I need you /

But there ain’t no way I’m ever going to love you or watch your cat when you go away to that conference /

Now don’t be sad /

’Cause two out of four ain’t bad.

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