How could i have forgotten how amazing Harry Nilsson is? His brilliance was buried in my psyche for a few years but now after watching the new documentary Who is Harry Nilsson (and Why is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) I have been reminded and won't soon forget his particular brand of genius again.
Nilsson was a fascinating, sentimental tunesmith who moved to Los Angeles in the '50s to begin a fabled career. Over the years, through success and failure, he covered his serious insecurities with his intense need to be the life of the party. And party he did, with all the entertainment industry luminaries, most notably John Lennon (especially during Lennon's "Lost Weekend") and Ringo Starr (best man at Harry's third wedding). He also wrote lastingly great songs like "One" (on a night when he was listening to the busy signal of his telephone), created his most famous album, Nilsson Schmilsson, and the music and concept for the cartoon The Point (which includes my favorite Nilsson tune, "Think About Your Troubles").
There are so many interesting interviews in the film with members of the creative community like Terry Gilliam, Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, Al Kooper, Derek Taylor's widow, Mickey Dolenz, Paul Williams, May Pang, Yoko Ono, Robin Williams, Randy Newman and many more. Each has a different story to tell about Harry, but most all of them comment on his big heart and, from the mid 70s onward, his being hell bent on self destruction. It's still so upsetting for songwriter Jimmy Webb to talk about Nilsson's eventual self-induced vocal ruin that he gets a rash and tears up. The trajectory of Nilsson's life brings many high highs and low lows, and this film chronicles them all.
Here's the trailer for the film: