Spaceman

In 1972 there were a lot of songs about space. People were still excited about the American space program, and artists couldn’t get enough of space travel’s boundless metaphorical possibilities. There was Elton John’s Rocket Man, and David Bowie’s entire Ziggy Stardust persona. Harry Nilsson didn’t do anything particularly different with the theme, although his rendition of the lonely cosmonaut is more on the comical side. Nilsson was no stranger to delivering a performance of heartbreaking tenderness. When he was in feelsy mode, he could make listeners melt down in tears. But he also had an irreverent streak that sometimes outweighed all rational concerns, and when someone expected full seriousness, Nilsson would instead deliver silliness. His silly take on the trendy hot theme of ’72 became a hit anyway, despite being written for shits and giggles.