Well in 1941 a happy father had a son and by 1944 the father walked right out the door And in '45 the mom and son were still alive but who could tell in '46 if the two were to survive Well the years were passing quickly but not fast enough for him So he closed his eyes through '55 and he opened them up again When he looked around he saw a clown and the clown seemed very gay And he set that night to join that circus clown and run away
Harry Nilsson (June 15, 1941 – January 15, 1994) was a popular American singer/songwriter during The Seventies. When a relative newcomer, Nilsson earned the attention of The Beatles, in turn garnering him some public notoriety of his own.His big break came when his cover of the Fred Neil song, "Everybody's Talkin'", was featured in the film Midnight Cowboy; earning him a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in the process. He would win the same award again a few years later for his performance of "Without You".As time went on, Nilsson's continuing drug and alcohol abuse took a toll on both his voice and career, and he released his last album in 1980. His untimely death of heart failure in 1994 occurred just as he was aiming for a musical comeback.
Author Existence Failure: Nilsson began recording a comeback album starting in 1993. It's been reported that he managed to finish the album a few days before his death. A few tracks have been leaked, but there's never been any indication that the album, provisionally titled Papa's Got a Brown New Robe, will ever be released.
Breakup Song: Oh, so many... "Without You" being the most obvious example.
It was a cover of a song by Badfinger, but their version doesn't have a fraction of Nilsson's emotional oomph.
Breakthrough Hit: "Everybody's Talkin'". However, it actually flopped when it first came out in 1968. It was re-released after being featured in Midnight Cowboy the next year.
Christmas Songs: "Remember (Christmas)" is a perennial selection on Christmas compilations... despite having no Christmas connotations whatsoever in its lyrics (there are some sleigh bells in the instrumental bridge, though).
Denser And Wackier: His evolution from the clean-cut, angelic-voiced orchestral pop prodigy of the late 60s to the bearded, throaty, often profane barfly of the 70s.
Disappeared Dad: Messed him up, but good. He attributes his own self-admitted flaws as a father to this. This also becomes the subject of at least two of his songs.
Even worse, his mother tried to protect his feelings by telling him that his father died heroically in World War II. After gaining notice as a singer, he learned that his dad was alive and well and was remarried with children.
The bouncy and wholesome-sounding "Cuddly Toy" was an obvious choice for Davy Jones to sing when The Monkees covered it. As for the lyrics, they're vague enough to be interpreted in different ways (some quite sinister), but they're plainly about some sort of unwholesome sexual encounter.
Magnum Opus Dissonance: Though the general listening audience are mostly split between Aerial Ballet, Nilsson Schmilsson, and Pandemonium Shadow Show as being Nilsson's Magnum Opus, the man's own opinion was that A Little Touch of Schmilsson... was his best work.
Meaningful Name: Aerial Ballet was named after the highwire circus act of his Swedish grandparents.
New Sound Album: A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night. Standards and traditional pop.
Non-Actor Vehicle: Son of Dracula. The consensus is that Nilsson actually acquitted himself fairly well as an actor and is the only worthwhile thing in the whole movie.
Precision F-Strike: "You're breakin' my heart... you're tearin' it apart... so FUCK YOU!" Possibly the most commercial song on the album, and the least likely to see airplay!
Pun-Based Title: Duit on Mon Dei is a riff on the motto of the British Monarchy, "Dieu et mon droit". Apparently this began as an inside joke among The Beatles during the Apple Corps era, then Ringo put it on the cover of his Ringo album.
Reclusive Artist: At least when it came to live performances, i.e. he never made any. At all.
Welcome to the Caribbean, Mon!: A suprising number of his songs have a Caribbean feel, even if the lyrics don't reflect it. "Coconut" is the most famous, but the albums Duit on Mon Dei and Sandman prominently feature steel drums and marimbas in their instrumental mixes.