There’s a new documentary out. It was made in 2007, but took till 2010 to get all the music licensing squared away. It’s called Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? and is available at Amazon and NetFlix even as an Instant View.
You know at least 2 Harry Nilsson songs, trust me. He was like the American Beatle. He made a vampire movie with Ringo Starr. He wrote “One is the Loneliest Number” and “Me and My Arrow” and “Put the Lime in the Coconut”. He sang “Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me” and “Without You.” You know Harry Nilsson. You maybe just don’t know that you know.
This movie is amazing. It’s got everybody: the Smothers Brothers, Mickey Dolenz, Paul Williams, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Yoko Ono, Robin Williams, Randy Newman, May Pang, Brian Wilson, oh my my. There’s video from Playboy After Hours and other shows that I’d never seen before.
As Stephen King pointed out in his Entertainment Weekly column, it’s a familiar story of rags to riches to the dissolute self-destruction that America require of her celebrities. It’s still got sort of a happy ending. There’s supposed to be one more album still out there, just waiting to be released when the time is right.
It bothers me that so many of my childhood heroes were alcoholics and drug addicts. I actually prefer Harry’s besotted albums to his great Nilsson Schmilsson. “How to Write a Song” from Sandman is super classic. It’s like he’s talking straight into your ear… And there’s Knnillssonn, and That’s the Way it Is. Ohmygoodness.
Maybe someday somebody will make a movie about Snakefinger. But as for me, I’ll Take a Tango.