What an incredibly self-destructive, insane, and amazingly talented man. Any fans?
I like a couple of his popular songs. I've only read pandora blurbs about who he is, and I was sad that he died so early. Can you elaborate a bit more since you watched the documentary? Would love to get the details without having to watch it.
He absolutely wouldn't tour or perform live because he was terrified. The album he did with John Lennon destroyed his voice. They competed so much that Harry blew out his vocal chords but didn't tell anyone. There was actually blood on the microphone. He was left by his father at a young age which destroyed him, but he turned around and did the same thing to his son. Just as his career would hit a high point, he would decide his next album should be the most uncommercial thing he could think of, like a standards album 20 years before everyone else did them. And of course drugs and alcohol were a big part of his downfall. But oh my God, the beauty and purity of his voice at the height of his powers was not to be believed.
Blood on the microphone??? That sounds horrendous. I had no idea you could do that to vocal cords.
That's because he didn't know how to sing like many pop singers.
Having a pretty voice has nothing to do with the training needed for longevity...
Competing with someone doesn't blow your voice out...there really is no such thing...it's not using your lungs properly and "singing" with your throat..
When Mariah Carey covered "Without You" some 20 years ago, I had to go back and listen to Nilsson's version to figure out what the hell the lyrics were. Mariah made it sound like "No, I can't forget the semen on your face as you were leavin'". When I heard her version on the radio I was shocked because this was before she went hip hop and started taking all her clothes off.
his work should be re-examined.....he was an amazing vocalist
He reminded me of that really eccentric strain of California musicians/songwriters like Van Dyke Parks, Brian Wilson, etc.
Very talented, but really, truly didn't want the fame that went with it.
Gerry Rafferty is a British example. RIP
'Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night' and the concept album 'The Point' (Me and My Arrow) are both excellent, as well.
My favourite is probably "Harry". Such a gorgeous voice, and I usually don't like tenors.
R9, interesting that you bring up those names as they are both interviewed in the film.
He was John Lennon's high profile drinking buddy for a while. There's that famous picture of them at a table in a club: Lennon is practically sucking his then-girlfriend May Pang's face off and Harry, obviously shit-faced drunk, is slurping down a "milkshake (that's what he and Lennon called a Brandy Alexander)."
When John introduced Harry to Yoko Ono she was her typical stone-faced, humorless self. Exasperated with her haughty attitude, Harry exploded with "what do you want me to do, Yoko, suck yer cock?" Good one, Harry!
OMG, "The Point". We used to get stoned and listen to that for hours.
And I still love "Coconut".
Call me in the morning, I tell you what to do...
The doc's on Netflix streaming, BTW.
Love and still miss the Harry. 'Down' always seemed to be his personal statement about his own darkness and edginess, amid all that MOR bullshit. The song rocks amazingly, and was back in the day released in a discrete quadraphonic vinyl format by RCA which made the track jump right into your soul.
[quote]....and I was sad that he died so early.
He died early? How did I, an eldergay, not know this? I loooved his big hit "Can't Live"(?) back when even though I'd zero experience of such things at that point.
Everybody's Talkin' at Me...
Didn't have a song about a taxi and he was killed in a taxi?
You're probably thinking of Harry Chapin.
Didn't know he was killed in a taxi, but he did have that song.
Who do you queens like more, Harry Nilsson or Beyonce?
Yeah, I checked wiki he was killed in a car wreck but a taxi wasn't involved..
I always loved the song everyone's talking at me.Didn't even get an Oscar nomination but look at the competion..
Everybody's Talkin was written and released by Fred Neil prior to the movie and Nilsson's version.
Just want to clear up the confusion. Harry Nilsson died of heart failure. Harry Chapin died in a car wreck.
Yeah those three hits he had must've taken it all out of him.
Of course John Lennon could spit out three classics in three hours.
It's funny -- he wrote songs that other people had hits with -- One," for example; a big hit for Three Dog Night. But his biggest successes were with songs somebody else wrote -- "Everybody's Talkin At Me," and "Without You."
But he didn't really leave a cache of fantastic stuff. He wrote a lot of songs, but not a lot of good songs. He burned out fast. Maybe that's why he drank so much. I was surprised that Jim Webb hung out with him. Webb was a big time LA songwriter who was a regular on the Glen Campbell Show. He wrote Glen's biggest hits, so I kind of thought Webb might have been a faux-with-it guy, a Republican riding the wave of popular music. Webb's McArthur Park was ludicrous, like a conservative person trying to convince someone they took acid once. But it was a huge worldwide hit and Webb had many more hits than Nilsson did, which might have made Nilsson feel inadequate.
I think his is more of a cautionary tale of a guy who was an underachiever. His drunkenness reached a point of self-sabotage that he never recovered from. In pictures of him when he was near death, his skin is bronze-colored. His liver was failing. He may have ultimately died of "heart failure," but his family and friends are fucking around with his legacy. He clearly had liver disease.
He didn't really die too soon. He actually kind of lived beyond his time.
Only know the song Mariah massacred and the classic Everybody's Talkin', odd as Midnight Cowboy is one of my fave films.
He's someone I keep forgetting to investigate further, as he has a couple of classic albums that are always referenced in the music magazines. I know he was a Lennon acolyte.
R23 I remember listening to Fred Neil and was shocked how deep his voice was, it was strange.
Must be near a bass and Barry White level.
I was aware of him while he was ascending -- my cousin worked for his record label at the time -- and I always thought his friendship with Lennon was starfucking, and he was more interested in that than in being a good singer. I saw the documentary when it came out (two years ago or so?) and felt pretty much the same thing. He had a good voice, wrote a few decent songs, but I just don't understand why he's as lauded as he is. He just wasn't that special.
"Me and My Arrow" is one of my favorite songs since childhood.
But I never quite understood "The Point."
I think he is lauded because other musicians found him fun to be with. I can't really think of any other reason. There were songwriters who wrote lots of popular songs --Jim Webb wrote many more hits than Nilsson did. I think Nilsson also validated them, telling them how great they were.
I remember when The Point was broadcast. My friends and I turned it on, expecting to watch something fun, but it was so boring we wound up leaving the house and forgetting that we had wanted to watch it. It was just another acid trip by a musician that came to nothing, like Pete townshend's Lifehouse and Brian Wilson's Smiley Smile.
Watching the documentary last night I didn't think his voice was all that great on his album of pop standards. The orchestra was drowning it out.
R22, he received a grammy for that
His voice wasnt all that great. Jay Black had a great voice. But Jay Black was an asshole.