Thursday, January 28, 2010

filling the Nilsson-shaped hole in my life

Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson (lala) and Son of Schmilsson (lala)

I'm filling the Nilsson-shaped hole in my life. He's one of those guys I know but don't know in a deep music nrrd sense. Like I knew Nilsson Schmilsson contained a song I'd loved forever ("Without You") and one I've hated forever ("Coconut") but wasn't expecting this perfect little trifecta hiding behind that bathrobe of his.

"Early in the Morning" is soul minimalism at its finest - two notes and a broken heart, and all three are celebrations of malleability. Life cannot contained by something as flimsy as the meter of a song. Like a tree, a song better be ready to bend with the wind. And it's hard to not like a good acid boogie when it comes around.

"We can make each other happy" meant something a little baser and animal than it does in these cautious, psychoanalytical times. I expect happiness was just as elusive in 1971, but they were not above hunting like a fox.

Son of Schmilsson is reportedly the loose rock of his artistic landslide, and I can see it. His magpie act is more pronounced, to the point of including Firesign Theatre style comedy. But then I like magpies. I am one myself. Some of my favorite records - Julian Cope's Jehovahkill, Badly Drawn Boy's Bewilderbeast, Exile on Main Street, the "White Album"- are all records that might be less than the sum of their widely varied parts, but what a cool batch of parts.

If I ever get my piano man act together, I'm going to work up "You're Breakin My Heart." I imagine it is great catharsis to have a whole bar of drunks roaring "fuck you" in unison by the end.

I would've taken a picture of my bathrobe if I had one, and it seemed weird to take a picture of anyone else's bathrobe, so above you will find two really large empty picture frames I pulled out of a dumpster on campus a couple of weeks ago. They are waiting to be filled as well.


  1. Every winter I go through a heavy-duty Nilsson phase -- totally in the thick of it now. I highly highly recommend you get Personal Best: the Harry Nilsson Anthology. And if you can find it, definitely check out the documentary "Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?".

    I'm not a fan of the Coconut song either. It's sad to me that that song is what he's best known for.

  2. 2nd the greatest hits rec, which is front-to-back greatness. I lived with that for many years and just in the last couple started going for the full albums. I like Nilsson Schmilsson, but I just picked up Pandemonium Shadow Show and was happy to find I liked that even more.