At one point in time, he was lauded as a major star by David Bowie and by John Lennon. His voice was part of major movie themes. Even today, his songs are used in commercials.
But as the old saying goes, he’s so famous you don’t even remember him.
I’m talking about Harry Nilsson. The singer-songwriter sold millions of albums, without even once embarking on a concert tour. He could go from hard-rocking to tender ballad in a heartbeat.
And on today’s K-Chuck Radio, I have lined up a series of Harry Nilsson’s best songs and classic tracks. How many do you remember today?
This was the original recording, it was later covered by Davy Jones in one of the few parts of the Monkees’ film Head that was actually worth watching. The song is about Nilsson’s father, and it’s not exactly a love song.
YOU CAN’T DO THAT
Okay, so it’s a Beatles cover song. But Nilsson cheekily worked in about twenty different lyrical references to other Beatles songs. Which is kinda impressive.
THEME FROM “THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE’S FATHER”
You probably watched this Bill Bixby-Brandon Cruz 1960’s family series and may never have known that Harry Nilsson was the voice of “People, Let Me Tell You ‘Bout My Best Friend…” And, to my knowledge, this recording has never been released as its own distinctive 45 or LP track.
I GUESS THE LORD MUST BE IN NEW YORK CITY
This song was originally scheduled to be the theme for the motion picture Midnight Cowboy, but another track was selected instead. This song actually became a reasonable-sized hit for Nilsson on the pop charts.
This was the track that replaced “I Guess The Lord Must Be in New York City.” And it’s a much better fit, if you ask me.
ME AND MY ARROW
“Me and My Arrow” was part of a concept album called The Point!, and was later merged into an animated TV special – two versions of the special exist, one with Ringo Starr as the narrator, and the other with Dustin Hoffman as the narrator. Imagine the kind of pull you have when your project has the star of an Oscar-winning movie OR a former Beatle involved in it.
Although Nilsson didn’t write this song (Pete Ham of Badfinger did), it’s Nilsson’s recording that helped the song sell over a million copies, and it’s Nilsson’s interpretation that’s heard in the remakes by both Celine Dion and Mariah Carey.
JUMP INTO THE FIRE
Admit it, the last time you heard this song it was used as the theme for a series of IBM computer commercials. And you know the cool thing about this track? Halfway through the song, the bass player starts UN-tuning his bass WHILE STILL PLAYING IT! And it works!!
And let’s close out Nilsson with the track that sounds like a rock and roll version of a nursery rhyme. I’m telling you, this guy was a genius.
And … he’s not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Figure that one out.
Maybe someday he will.
I mean … there’s plenty of evidence in this K-Chuck Radio playlist to argue for his inclusion, right?
Harry is not forgotten: https://www.dustbury.com/archives/27967
There’s so much good stuff in the Nilsson catalog, from schmaltz to scary, and a whole album of Randy Newman songs (on which Newman plays piano).
Very cool lot’s of memories
He was married 3 times, had 7 children, died Jan. 1994
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