Michael Kovac/Getty ImagesElton John is so identified with his 1972 top-10 hit “Rocket Man” that it’s become his nickname. Now, the man who wrote the lyrics to the song — Bernie Taupin — tells the Wall Street Journal that he was upset when, last year, President Donald Trump started referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “little Rocket Man.”

“The context bothered me,” Taupin tells the Wall Street Journal. “The thought that World War III could start over the use of my song title was disturbing. I also was uncomfortable that something of mine that was culturally iconic could be used in such a way.”

Taupin contniues, “But what could I do? Sue him for cultural appropriation? As a songwriter, you’re powerless to stop something like that. However, if the use of ‘Rocket Man’ results in peace, I will be very happy to take full credit for it.”

Taupin reveals that the song was inspired by two things: Ray Bradbury‘s short story “The Rocket Man,” about an astronaut who misses his family; and a song called “Rocket Man,” by the psychedelic folk-rock band Pearls Before Swine, which Taupin called “a literal retelling of the Bradbury story.”

“What appealed to me most about the Bradbury story,” Taupin explains, “[was] the drudgery of being an astronaut…Bradbury had envisioned future astronauts as little more than intergalactic truck drivers, burning themselves out alone far from home.”

Taupin then describes how, in 1971, he started writing a song on that topic in his head, while driving to his parents’ house. He recalls, “The first verse came to me at once” — but he had no way to write it down in the car. So when he arrived at his parents’ house, he remembers “rush[ing] in without saying hello…hunting for a pen and paper.”

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