I was checkin’ out Hulu last night and came across this documentary about Harry that appears to be available there for free for the time being:
Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) (Click on the link)I watched it. Loved it. I highly recommend it. (John Lennon and Ringo Starr are all over it.)
Here’s Harry’s greatest performance (as many of us believe), which ironically is a cover of another band's song:
Love it, love it, love it. I remember it so well. First my radio, then the family stereo, became a church, and I worshipped that song. What an amazing performance and production.
Though Harry was a wonderful songwriter, this particular song was written and originally performed, not by him, but by the underrated Badfinger, two years earlier. (The two main talents of that band—and composers of the song—later committed suicide, but that's another story. The song was the result of combining Ham and Evan's two unfinished songs.)
Harry was pretty special. When he was breaking up with his second wife, he produced this marvelous ditty:
My favorite lines:
I’m goin’ insaneHere's Harry on the Smothers Brothers' Comedy Show, probably in 1969 or 1970 or so. I recall seeing this then:
There’s no one to blame
So fuck you
If you pay strict attention, you'll notice that the audience is fake. I mean, there's no audience there. (No doubt they played the tape of Harry's performance before an audience and recorded their reaction. Then they bounced that on top of Harry's performance.) Evidently, Harry was desperately afraid of live performing. —Well, no. He seemed to have no problem with live performing. His problem was with performing in front of an audience. Evidently, this was the result of a very bad experience he had in the late 50s.
You've gotta love a guy that's that messed up.
(Another fake "live" performance from about the same period: for British TV. Really good.)
• Listen to Jump Into the Fire, featuring superdrummer Jim Gordon, who, a dozen years later, heard voices that told him to kill his mother. He did.