Tuesday, January 15, 2008

'Twas on this day, fourteen years ago, HARRY NILSSON died. I first heard about it that evening, when Dustin Hoffmann (who had starred in the film Midnight Cowboy, its Nilsson-heavy soundtrack giving Harry a lot of his early success) announced it at the Oscar telecast.

Since hearing "Coconut" and even more importantly its frantic, impassioned gospelish B-side "Down" at age 11, then later purchasing the John Lennon-produced Pussy Cats a few years later, I've been a huge fan of the man's work, which could be rocking or melodic, sweet and vulgar, or sad and hilarious, sometimes all in the same song. And even though he was mostly inactive, at least in the public eye, from 1977 till his death in 1994 I eagerly snapped up each new release or tidbit of news whenever I could. I rarely went a week without listening to at least one of Harry's albums. I even got an autograph, thanks to a friend who attended Beatlefest in Chicago in the early 80's.

Anyway, just wanted to pay the man a small tribute, and this is it.

Some links:

Harry on Wikipedia.

For The Love of Harry, a great blog in which you can read lots of information and sample tracks if you so choose.

Harry's gravesite.

Van Dyke Parks reminisces about his sometimes collaborator.

The trailer for Who is Harry Nilsson- and Why is Everybody Talking About Him?, the 2005 documentary which I can only hope will get a distributor, and thus a DVD release, someday before I die.

Another YouTube video, this one from buddy Ringo Starr, as Harry appears in his promotional clip for his 1974 hit "Only You". He's sitting on top of the Capitol Records building, smoking in his bathrobe.

And finally, the man himself, from the unfinished documentary he made during the London recording sessions of what is probably my favorite HN album, Son of Schmilsson, titled Did Somebody Drop His Mouse?. Here's to ya, big fella.

I don't know where life's goin'
But soon it will be gone
I hope the wind that's blowin'
Helps me carry on
Turn on your radio baby
Baby, listen to my song
And turn on your night light baby
Baby I'm gone

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