Elton John, "Rocket Man" (1972)
"Your Song," "Levon," "Tiny Dancer," "Daniel," "Honky Cat," "Crocodile Rock" – Elton John owned the early Seventies and most of the rest of the decade, but "Rocket Man" was his most ambitious mega-hit. Inspired by Tom Rapp's similarly titled tune with acid-folk outfit Pearls Before Swine, lyricist Bernie Taupin imagined an astronaut bummed out by the banality of his profession. (David Bowie's "Space Oddity" seemed almost histrionic in comparison.) Onstage, John would use the tune as a launching pad for ever-changing jams that would extend from New Orleans piano polyrhythms to New Age noodling.