Thursday, November 4, 2010
Me And My Arrow
Straight-up and narrow.
I still hum that tune and juggle those lyrics around, every now and then. I liked the 1971 animated ABC Movie of the Week (and the first full length cartoon granted prime-time status, excluding a Disney flic or two.). My kids, now fully grown with babes of their own, also enjoyed a nodding acquaintance. As a dj in a small market town, I got some of the cast-off promo albums that the music director (md) didn't want. The soundtrack to "The Point" was one of them.
What can I say about Harry Nilsson? He was born in 1941, a full year before me, and died in 1994. He wrote music with lyrics that invaded the melody and filled all the empty spots perfectly. His work was hand-crafted and is timeless
He was also uncanny in his interpretation of other composers, such as Fred Neils' "Everybody's Talkin' At Me." from the Academy Award winning movie, "Midnight Cowboy" and from which he received a Grammy.
My last blog cradled a self-destructive life. And Harry certainly had, some think; especially toward the end; the same destination in mind. There is a documentary out there; "Who Is Harry Nilsson And Why Is Everybody Talking About Him?" written and directed by John Schienfeld and released in 2007. It's available on Netflix. If you want to learn more of Harry's' life, check it out.
Paul Williams, he of "Rainy Days and Mondays", "We've Only Just Begun" and other hits of the 70's and 80's and a friend of Harrys once called him a "big bunny.......with sharp teeth." Paul was closely connected with The Muppets and I think of his song, "The Rainbow Connection" with fondness.
I think Harry was more of a living muppet then a bunny. Sort of like John Denver and Mother Angelica. In real life they were caricatures of Jim Hensons creations. He was likable but distant in many ways. He never did any live touring concerts. When asked, he would usually reply..."That's for other people."
Mickey Dolenz (Monkee fans take a bow) once described Harry as living life in a car going at full speed at all times and rather then slowing down when approaching a stone wall would hurtle right at it. Incidentally, Mickey and fellow band member Davy Jones did voice overs for the movie; Davy speaking Oblio's (the main character) lines and Mickey assorted other voices.
It is the RCA album, "A Touch of Schmilsson in the Night" that still floors me every time I hear it. It was released in 1973 and featured a 39 piece ochestra and the voice of Harry flawlessly interpreting some great american songbook songs. His voice can break your heart and heal it again, all in one song.
I think it was Irving Berlins 1923 ballad, "What'll I Do?" that dove head-first into my heart. It was during a turbulent time in my life and the song struck a very large chord. Other masterpieces include, "This Is All I Ask", "As Time Goes By" and "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now?"
Johnathan Schwartz still plays tunes from that magnificent album every now and then as he explores "Seriously Sinatra and High Standards" for Sirius radio.
Harry was friends to many, including John Lennon and Ringo Star. I thought of him as a contemporary and noted his passing with sadness. Only one of the three talents I mentioned are with us. And each year the list gets smaller and smaller.
I think the change of seasons is getting to me. I promise to be a bit more upbeat the next time we get together.If you like good music interpreted in a stunning fashion, look into "A Touch of Schmillson in the Night." You wont be sorry
© 2010 George Locke