One of my favorite songwriters is the late, enigmatic Harry Nilsson, who passed away in 1994. While he is somewhat still well known, it is probably not the same level of fame that his work deserves even though he achieved great fame and earned many accolades during his life. He recorded and wrote many hits, earned Grammy Awards, and cavorted with the biggest names in music. Lennon and McCartney named him as their favorite songwriter ( he also recorded an album and more with John Lennon) and Keith Moon and Mama Cass both died in his London flat. Yet how many twenty or thirty year-olds even recognize the name?
But there is still a great deal of interest in his music and life and there are those out there trying to let the world about the talent of this flawed man. This past month there was a release of a large box set spanning his career at RCA as well as a biography, Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter, from author Alyn Shipton. Not to mention, a celebrated documentary from several years back, Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? So, hopefully his work will stick around in the public eye a bit longer.
If you don’t know his name, you probably know the music. It is used extensively by filmmakers including this song, Jump Into the Fire, that was used in a pivotal scene in Goodfellas by Martin Scorsese. It’s a good song to pump up a dreary morning.
FYI, the painting at the top is an older piece of mine from back in 2001.