I am pretty certain that very few of my blog followers have heard of the singer Harry Nilsson. I don’t blame you for not knowing; he was never a superstar, he never played packed concert halls; in fact due to his stage fright he never played live; he only gave a few interviews. He is best known for his only hit single “Everybody’s talking” which was on the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack; everyone knows the song but they can’t tell you who the artist was. Harry Nilsson was an incredible songwriter who wrote hits for bands like Three Dog Night ( One) and Badfinger ( Without You) and when I listen to the covers; it’s clear me the originals were better; more soul. He was also known as John Lennon’s drunken buddy during Lennon’s lost weekend
Harry Nilsson was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1941; his father left the family at an early age ( Much like John Lennon) and it has an effect on Nilsson prompting him to write one my favorite songs by Nilsson amply titled “1941” In another song he called “Good old desk” which was acronym for God; I thought that said so much about his feelings about religion. Harry Nilsson’s music is hard to describe except he was a singer-songwriter who explored different genres. What makes him so interesting is the vocals; his songs are full of soaring vocals; sometimes 4 or 5 different harmonies on 1 track; you’d think he had a whole band of backup singers; yet he did all of the vocals and if I’m not mistaken the instrumentation as well. During a press conference the Beatles were asked who their favorite American group was and they replied “Nilsson”. They had no idea Harry Nilsson was just one man and not a musical group; and I think this must have the biggest compliment to Nilsson who was now known to the world; thanks to the fab four. And Nilsson repayed the compliment by beautifully covering many Beatles songs including an incredible cover of “You can do that” where he actually song 5 or 6 Beatles all at once; words can’t describe the song and how talented Nilsson was.
Nilsson should have been a superstar but due to his shyness; he didn’t tour or do much promotion of his music and I think because some of his music was old fashioned; it may have been overlooked; which is sad to me. I think he was much more appreciated by fellow musicians as opposed to the general public. I want to stop and admit that I haven’t heard every Nilsson album but I have heard his first 4 or 5 albums and they are simply brilliant from start to finish. Nilsson released an album in 1971 that was based on story about a boy that a pointed head and he was teased for being different; it was adapted into a movie voiced by former Beatle Ringo Starr and little boy was voiced by Mike Lookinland ( Bobby from the Brady Bunch) I didn’t realize it until I saw it that I had seen it as a child; I must have gotten a vhs copy from the library in the 80s; it brought back some great childhood memories. But the thing about Nilsson is that he was his own worst enemy. Nilsson would release an album full of Randy Newman covers; not exactly the hippest music for the early 70s. Nilsson peaked with his album “Nilsson Smillson” which contained the hits “Without you” ‘Jump into the fire” and “Coconut”. I have the album and I love it; certainly his most accessible album. After that successful record; he could have continued making similar music and attracting new fans but instead he made obscure albums that were ignored. He made an album of songs from the great American music sound book ( music from the 20’s to the 50’s) which of course couldn’t possibly appeal to the younger generation. Nilsson was asked to make a single for his new album in 1972 which was called “You’re breakin my heart” The lyrics contained the chorus ” You’re breakin my heart; you’re tearin it apart so fuck you” Obviously risque for 1972 ( even now) and couldn’t possibly get radio airplay. It was if Nilsson was tired of the music industry; sticking out his middle finger and literally saying fuck you in a way of sabatoging his own career; it’s pretty sad. This was the downfall of Nilsson.
Nilsson never reached the success of his early records from the late 60’s and early 70’s; he continued to record albums throughout the 70s that were either weren’t selling well or were shelved by the record company completely. Everything changed for him on December 8th, 1980. Nilsson was devastated to hear about the news that his dear friend John Lennon had been murdered in New York; the city he had grown up in. After this Nilsson gave up making music for the rest of his life; with the exception of contributing to the movie soundtrack “Popeye” in 1980; the same year Lennon was shot. By the 1990’s Nilsson has gain considerable weight and was struggling with issues of alcoholism; I also assume he was struggling financially as well. In 1994 Harry Nilsson suffered a second heart attack in 2 years and did not survive; his death went largely unnoticed since Nilsson was relatively unknown outside of music circles. And what I find interesting that after Lennon’s died; Nilsson was so hurt that he refused to comment on Lennon’s death. Ringo Starr who was also good friends with Nilsson; refuses to this day to talk about the death of his friend Nilsson. There was a documentary made on his life a few years and Ringo refused to be a part of that. It shows the great respect that the Beatles had for the unknown Nilsson.
So if you’ve managed to take the time to read a long article about a musician you’ve never heard of. You might be asking yourself; how did I discover Nilsson. I’m 36 and I did not grow up in the era where his music wouldn’t been known. It all started when I was looking for Beatles covers; remember that dark period where Youtube removed all the Beatles music? I found some nice covers from Elliot Smith ( another underrated musician) and then I saw the “You can’t do that” cover by Nilsson and I was instantly smitten; I had to know more about this guy. I find a website totally dedicated to him and had most of his music for download. And they also had a video of Nilsson’s only “live” performance. It was a BBC special in 1971 that featured Nilsson’s music. Again due to his stage fright; the audience wasn’t live; they were filmed later. It’s an incredible performance with a medley of 3 different Nilsson’s singing together at the same time; it has some animated videos and a lot of humor. There is a part where Nilsson finishes a song; only to get silence; bows his head to the ground and the camera pans to the audience and everyone is asleep except for Nilsson who is also in the audience; where he gives a slow clap and immediately joins everyone else and falls asleep; just brilliant. I think he brought a lot of sadness to his music but also humor as well and I appreciate that. I have never found another person who appreciates Nilsson and I’m pretty sure this blog won’t make a difference but maybe someone can fall in love with Nillson’s music; just like I did. Music is everything
Thanks for listening,
Credit Google images
I am so excited that I now have gained over 1,000 followers to my Instagram page; I am a part of both a wonderful writing and mental health community on Instagram. I have so much support on there and the ability to lend my support to others; it has been amazing; beyond anything I could have imagined a year ago. If you can please take the time to follow me on instagram; I post often and am active in interacting with my followers. Thank you
So I’ve been noticing on social media that everyone is posting their first photos they posted with their current photos; most go back 10 years or more. I hate thinking about those days; I am much happier now but I was really a miserable person in 2008. My mental health had deteriorated to the point where I couldn’t function mentally, emotionally, physically, spirituality. I was working but my anxiety and stomach problems were so bad; I was just going through the motions. I leaving in the same house I was growing up; with the memory of my brother’s death and the trauma of living in a chaotic household. I couldn’t take care of myself; I never bought new clothes or got a haircut; I just looked bad. I wasn’t communicating with anyone and I spent more of my time just watching movies and going online. I wasn’t writing or doing anything constructive with my feelings; I was just wallowing in mental illness. As I write this I feel a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat and anxiety; remembering those days. And this was a continued pattern since I graduated high school ( 7 years) It was 7 years of isolating myself from people; staying locked up in my house; not leaving for days at time. I am sure some of my readers are going through those struggles right now and I want to stop for a second and tell you that you are not alone; a lot of us have been through that and I feel that pain; I myself never want to back to it but I don’t to forget where I came from and the work I did to be the man I am today. So yeah anyways I also had no concept of God; I had no faith or prayer; maybe I believed in God but I blamed him for all of my misery and refused to go to church or be associated with anyone I knew from there. It was the darkest period in my life ( aside from my brothers death) 2001-2008. In the summer of 2008 I moved from the DC area ( the place I had grown up in all my life) to NC and slowly over the years my life has changed for the better.
Just thinking about the past makes me awashed in sadness and it can set my depression off for me days. I felt that way when I saw some of those old photographs of my friends. It hurts seeing some of these photos because it reminds me of all the things I missed from my friends; college days, relationships, weddings, careers, starting a family; I wish I had kept in touch with them; but I haven’t seen some of them since I graduated high school; I am filled with regret but grateful that I am in touch with them now; it still hurts though. It also makes me think of all the things that I haven’t achieved; I have never had a long term relationship; I never went to a university; had a career and I don’t have a family of my own. I look at my life and it seems lackluster compared to theirs and it kills me inside. And in thinking about all that makes me realize that I only have about 1 photograph from about 2001 to about 2016; that is amazing. It’s a family photo where we are together and I look pretty happy next to my cousin but that’s the only photo I know of myself from that 15 year period that is awfully depressing. I think I just hated myself so much that I couldn’t bear to be photographed; I thought I was ugly and I hated the idea of anyone taking my picture. I was in such a depressive state; I couldn’t even smile; my eyes dark and sunken from lack of sleep; my hair too curly; whatever the reason; very few photographs exist of me. And it shows the progress I made since my social media is full of selfies, photos of me with family and friends; I’m smiling and I think I look better than I ever have; I have much more confidence. I am making up for all that lost time, I guess. So while I can’t produce a photo from 10 years ago; I can share one today;a much happier, healthier Dave; full of life. One that begs for his photo to be taken so he can share it with the world. Here’s to progress.
Thanks for listening
Night music to fill the void; the emptiness that late nights can bring
Notes from my speakers; set the mood; the tone.
The sky may be dark but the sound brightens even the darkness night
Stick to autoplay; surprise me; discover new tunes; a bluesy number by an unknown artist
Music nourishes my soul; giving me nutrients of rhythm and blues
Feet tappin as I find myself immersed in guitar notes from a far off land; snapping my fingers to the beat
These endless guitar notes certainly should lull me to sleep or keep me up all night; it’s hit or miss.
Time signatures of grandiosity fill my creative thoughts; some things are best unplayed. Good night
Every day I find myself connecting online with more and more people; I struggle with over usage and it’s something I talk about often. But it is amazing how my social media presence is growing like crazy and in a positive way. This morning it took almost half an hour to personal respond to my blog, Instagram, Facebook and twitter; all full of notifications; it wasn’t always this way. And while it takes time; I love responding to messages and I try to get back to people promptly. I can only thank God for giving the opportunity to reach out to so many people all at once; there was a time where I tried so hard to connect with people online and usually got ghosted pretty quickly; comments and messages never got responses; posts never got reactions and now people are responding; maybe because my posts are more positive; I try not post things that make people sad but inspire them. Some days I need to post about depression but I use my blog for that and not Facebook. So yes the support means a lot to me.
So today I met this person on Twitter who pretty much went through the same tragedy as me and I was messaging her; she had just added on me on Instagram and my other social media. I was look forward to seeing her posts. All of a sudden Instagram was asking for a phone number to verify the account and so I put in my number and no text; I panicked. Here’s the thing: most of my interactions with writers, mental health advocates are on Instagram. I use it to network, share my writing, meet like minded people and maybe just maybe meet other writers in person or they could suggest ways of connecting with writers in my area; it’s a great tool. So I put in my phone number in again and still nothing. I uninstalled the app because I thought it may have been a hack of some sort and I opened up again and got the same message and again no text. I was getting concerned at this point; I would lose everything. I got home and I tried to log in with my laptop; same thing. And to make matters worse; I couldn’t get past the security screen; so there was no way to even make a new account; I felt helpless. I felt myself explode in anger; I felt that this means of support would be gone in a seconds because Instagram were assholes ( and they are). I finally decided to give them someone else’s number and they finally got a text. I have no idea why Instagram locked me out; I add a lot of people but it’s the only way I know how to make my Instagram grow. My posts are positive and I don’t bully or harass people; in fact I do my best to encourage and uplift others. Instagram is terrible and has the worst support system when there are issues with our accounts and they are a monopoly; it’s just such a mess; which shouldn’t be a surprise since it’s now run by Mark Zuckerburg. Anyways my account is back and I am now calming down; what an ordeal. It may not seem a big deal to you; but it’s the equivalent of someone erasing all of your emails, phone contacts and deleting all of your photos, videos, online conversations all in 5 seconds. I shouldn’t have acted out in anger but I felt like I LOST everything!! It’s the worst feeling. Like this blog; I have no idea how I would respond if I woke up one morning and this blog was gone; all those writings and supportive comments; gone. It makes me realize how fragile our online lives and it can be gone in seconds; it really scares me. Anyways I just needed to vent.
Thanks for listening