Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Spotlight on Nilsson
Here's one more article about Nilsson, from Neil McCormick of The Telegraph ('Everything was sweeter with Harry'). For the piece, McCormick interviewed Van Dyke Parks and Jimmy Webb, two famous industry players who were tight with Nilsson. Their insights and remembrances really cut to the quick of Harry's bewitching charm (see below). I can say from personal experience that this charm rarely if ever ebbs. Once the Son of Schmilsson has you, he has you. Excerpts: - “It beggars belief that Harry has been misplaced,” according to Parks. “He was prodigious, indefatigable, astonishing for his raw intelligence and musical ability. It has become too easy now to talk about his addictive personality, nudge-nudge, wink-wink, but there was essentially a great talent. He was rock and roll but he was a romanticist, he had great elasticity, he could cop a feel, get a groove, put it in the pocket, get down with your bad self. He creates another world. Everything was sweeter with Harry.” - “I don’t think there was anybody who could touch him as a singer,” according to his close friend, the great songwriter Jimmy Webb. “He had crazy, gymnastic effects that he could do, with a lot of vocal layering, little choirs of himself, everything so precisely lined up. He had this grace of moving from note to note, warbling and twirling, doing little imitations of birds, and then just screaming flat out so that it would tear your wig off. There was an unpredictability and effervescence and a tremendous range. He would get way down in his chest but nobody could sing higher. One of the problems is his performances were so great, they were like mountains. He didn’t just want to be remembered for singing a Badfinger song. But hey, he sang the shit out of it, man. He nailed it.” - More from Webb: “He was very contagious, and people around him would all of a sudden find themselves having a great day. They might be jerked off to some improbable destination to something that they really hadn’t planned to do, but he was delightfully inventive when it came to, dare I say, wasting time.” - Lastly, chew on this: "(Nilsson and John Lennon) shared an apartment with Ringo Starr and Keith Moon during Lennon’s notorious 'lost weekend.'" Good Lord. That's a madhouse. That's a den of sin. That's the Seventies in all of its dissolute, depraved, let's-not-do-that-again glory.