[[caption-width-right:350:"Everybody's talkin' at me..."]]

->''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''
-->-- "1941"

Harry Edward Nilsson III (June 15, 1941 January 15, 1994), sometimes credited as simply Nilsson, was an American [[SingerSongwriter singer/songwriter]] with a versatile voice that boasted multiple octaves in its prime. An idiosyncratic, savvy composer with a unique flair for CloudCuckooland-ishness, his career saw him going from clean-cut baroque pop prodigy to scruffy, carousing pop-rocker. Rather uniquely for the period, he was a ReclusiveArtist who seldom, if ever, performed live, his career sustained by little else than his recorded output.

When a relative newcomer during the late [[TheSixties 1960s]], Nilsson earned the admiration of Music/TheBeatles (Music/RingoStarr eventually became a close friend), which needless to say did [[ColbertBump wonders for Nilsson's own notability]]. His big commercial break came when his cover of "Everybody's Talkin'" (originally written by Fred Neil) was featured in the film ''Film/MidnightCowboy'', 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 what has now become a pop standard; "Without You" (written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger).

His fame peaked in the early [[TheSeventies 1970s]]; as time went on, Nilsson's continuing drug and alcohol abuse took a toll on both his voice and career; his career as a recording artist ended with the release of his last album in 1980. His untimely death of heart failure in 1994 occurred just as he was aiming for a musical comeback.

* ''Spotlight on Nilsson'' (1966)
* ''Pandemonium Shadow Show'' (1967)
* ''Film/{{Skidoo}}'' (1968)
* ''Aerial Ballet'' (1968)
* ''Harry'' (1969)
* ''Nilsson Sings Newman'' (1970)
* ''The Point!'' (1971)
* ''Nilsson Schmilsson'' (1971)
* ''Son of Schmilsson'' (1972)
* ''A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night'' (1973)
* ''Son of Dracula'' (1974)
* ''Pussy Cats'' [with Music/JohnLennon] (1974)
* ''Duit on Mon Dei'' (1975)
* ''Sandman'' (1976)
* ''...That's the Way It Is'' (1976)
* ''Early Tymes'' (1977)
* ''Knnillssonn'' (1977)
* ''Flash Harry'' (1980)

!!"Put the Tropes in the coconut and call me in the morning."

* ACappella: "The Ivy Covered Walls"
* AgeProgressionSong: "1941".
* AlbumIntroTrack: ''Pandemonium Shadow Show'' opens with Nilsson attempting a circus ringmaster-type introduction. ''Aerial Ballet'' has him doing a tap-dancing routine. ''Duit on Mon Dei'' starts off with a rough demo version of "Jesus Christ You're Tall", which he recorded a finished version of on the next album, ''Sandman''. ''Flash Harry'' opens with a song ''about'' Nilsson, written and performed by Creator/EricIdle.
* AntiLoveSong: "You're Breaking My Heart"
* BadassBeard: His pride and joy since the early '70s.
* BigApplesauce: "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City".
* BookEnds: ''A Little Touch of Schmilsson in The Night'' opens with a snippet of "As Time Goes By" and closes with the whole song.
** ''...That's The Way It Is'' goes the opposite direction, opening with the full version of "That Is All" and closing with a short reprise.
* BreakupSong: 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.
** There's also "Don't Forget Me", a tender post-divorce song from ''Pussy Cats''.
* ChristmasSongs: "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).
** He wrote and recorded an original Christmas song called "Give, Love, Joy" for the ''[[{{ComicStrip/Ziggy}} Ziggy's Gift]]'' [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBLWCsI4ig8 TV special]] in 1982. Six years later he contributed a few brief cover versions of holiday standards to an [[http://www.nilssonschmilsson.com/page-the-presence-of-christmas-dove-cd.html audiobook anthology]] of various stories called ''[[PunBasedTitle The Presence of Christmas]]''. It's ultra-rare and those who've heard it don't have much good to say about it. One Amazon.com review calls it [[SoBadItsHorrible "so bad it's almost embarrassing".]]
* CoverAlbum: ''Nilsson Sings Newman'', ''A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night''.''...That's The Way It Is'' (all but two songs are covers), ''Pussy Cats'' (five of ten) and ''Pandemonium Shadow Show'' (six of twelve) come close.
** And on the receiving end too, with the tribute album ''For The Love of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson'', and The Walkmen did a track-for-track version of ''Pussy Cats''.
* CoverVersion:
** His two biggest hits were covers. And pretty obviously, ''Nilsson Sings Newman'' is nothing covers of Music/RandyNewman songs.
** Music/TheBeatles uniformly agreed that his cover of "Mother Nature's Son" is their favourite Beatles cover song.
** Out of 18 albums, only 4 (''Skidoo'', ''The Point!'', ''Duit on Mon Dei'', ''Knnillssonn'') contain all original songs, and ''Knnillssonn'' is the only one with all the songs solely written by Nilsson.
** Then there's the odd case of "Marry Me a Little". After it was cut from the original run of ''{{Theatre/Company}}'', Music/StephenSondheim arranged for Nilsson to record it so he could give a copy to Judy Prince, the wife of producer Harold Prince, who'd loved the song, as a Christmas present (Nilsson even sings "Merry Christmas, Judy. Have a Happy New Year too" at the end). Despite the obviously limited quantity of the recording, a dub of the acetate eventually circulated among Nilsson fans, and a version taken from the master tapes finally got an official release in the ''RCA Albums Collection'' BoxedSet in 2013. The consensus opinion is that it's [[BetterThanCanon just as good as what Nilsson was releasing publicly]] at the time, and if he'd given it a wide release it might've been a career highlight for both him and Sondheim.
* CloudCuckoolander: Part of his brand of humor. "Coconut" is pretty much one of the all-time party tunes of CloudCuckooland.
* CreditsGag: The 1968 film ''Skidoo'' has Nilsson [[ListSong singing the entire end credits sequence]]: actors, crew members, and legal disclaimers. All of it.
* DaysOfTheWeekSong: "(Thursday) Here's Why I Did Not Go to Work Today"
* DeadArtistsAreBetter: Nilsson's death didn't get much notice beyond the standard celebrity obituaries in 1994[[note]]It didn't help that a 6.7 earthquake hit the LA area two days later, dominating news coverage. The joke among his friends was that it was actually Harry throwing a fit after learning there were no bars in Heaven.[[/note]]. Understandable, since he hadn't released an album in over 13 years. At that point he was mainly remembered for a handful of hits and as Music/JohnLennon's "Lost Weekend" drinking buddy. Since then a confluence of factors helped rejuvenate his reputation: several Nilsson songs featured prominently in movies, a small but enthusiastic fandom, websites devoted to his work, a well-executed remaster and reissue campaign by Creator/RCARecords, the acclaimed documentary ''Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin' About Him?)'' and biography ''Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter'' by Alyn Shipton, plus the enduring popularity of ''WesternAnimation/ThePoint''.
* DenserAndWackier: 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.
* DisappearedDad: 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 UsefulNotes/WorldWarII. After gaining notice as a singer, he learned that his dad was alive and well and was remarried with children.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: Nilsson's first releases, under the name "Bo-Pete", were rockabilly songs.
* EpicInstrumentalOpener: The intro for "Salmon Falls" clocks in at a full 1:40 (the entire song is a little over four minutes). Even more unusually, the main instrument in that intro is a steel drum.
* EpicRocking: "Jump Into the Fire". That is, the album version.
* ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: "Mr. Richland's Favorite Song" was exactly that; the favorite Nilsson song of one Mr. Richland, a music publisher.
** ''Nilsson Sings [[Music/RandyNewman Newman]]''
* FadingIntoTheNextSong:
** ''Aerial Ballet'': "I Said Goodbye to Me" into the reprise of "Little Cowboy".
** ''Duit on Mon Dei'': "Kojak Columbo" into "Easier For Me".
* FakeShemp: The cover photo of RCA's 1978 ''Greatest Hits'' album appears to show Nilsson looking at himself in a handheld mirror, but the back of the head that we see is actually a delivery man who showed up at RCA one day while they were working on the cover. They didn't have Nilsson pose for it because they didn't want him to know they were releasing the album (and he left the label after he found out).
* FallingBass: The detuning bass solo in the breakdown section of "Jump Into the Fire".
* FunWithAcronyms: "'''G'''ood '''O'''ld '''D'''esk".
* GenerationXerox: "1941".
* GodIsLoveSongs: "Good Old Desk" (see FunWithAcronyms above), though it's pretty much admitted to be a joke. Not that it doesn't make a little bit of sense.
* GreenAesop: "Cowboy", "Pretty Soon There'll Be Nothing Left for Everybody"
* GrowOldWithMe: "Down by the Sea" tackles this trope with a bit of irreverence:
-->Now it's forty years after the laughs at the wedding
-->And I'm dreading retirement, what would I do?
-->The children are married and now the big question
-->Is "Was it all worth it?" and who buries who?
-->You bury me or I bury you?'
* HalfwayPlotSwitch: Almost exactly halfway through, ''Son of Schmilsson'''s closing number "The Most Beautiful World in the World" changes from rock to a lush ballad, while the lyrics shift from talking about how the world sometimes sucks to how great it is.
* HealingPotion: Apparently, if you put a lime in a coconut and drink 'em both up, your belly-ache should be gone in the morning. [[HereWeGoAgain Only, not]].
* HeavyMeta: "The Story of Rock and Roll", which he wrote but never formally recorded. It was a minor hit for The Turtles in 1968 (Music/TheMonkees also made an unfinished attempt at it).
* IronicName: "Joy, to the world, was a beautiful girl, but to me Joy meant only sorrow."
* JukeboxMusical: The 1977 London stage production of ''The Point!'' (starring [[Music/TheMonkees Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz]]) was a quasi-example. It was an AdaptationExpansion, with various songs from other Nilsson albums added, rewritten to fit the plot.
* JustLikeRobinHood: "Moonshine Bandit"
* LongTitle: "Nobody Cares About the Railroads Anymore", "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City", "Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear"... all on the same album, even!
** "Pretty Soon There'll Be Nothing Left for Everybody" from ''Sandman''.
* LoopedLyrics: "Jump Into The Fire"
* LyricalColdOpen: Most of the songs on ''The Point!'', "Remember (Christmas)", "(Thursday) Here's Why I Did Not Go to Work Today".
* LyricalDissonance: "Marchin' Down Broadway" is a super-cheery number about... celebrating America's victory over Japan in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII.
** The bouncy and wholesome-sounding "Cuddly Toy" was an obvious choice for Davy Jones to sing when Music/TheMonkees 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.
* MeaningfulName: ''Aerial Ballet'' was named after the highwire circus act of his [[UsefulNotes/{{Sweden}} Swedish]] grandparents.
* NewSoundAlbum:
** ''Nilsson Schmilsson'' added extensive rock elements to his music for the first time, culminating with the EpicRocking of "Jump Into The Fire".
** ''A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night''. Standards and traditional pop.
* NonActorVehicle: ''Son of Dracula''. Nilsson was the second choice after Music/DavidBowie turned it down. Most fans think he acquits himself fairly well as an actor and is the ''only'' worthwhile thing in the whole movie.
* NonstandardPrescription: In the song [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tbgv8PkO9eo "Coconut"]] a woman puts lime in the coconut and drinks them both up, and gets a bellyache. She calls her doctor (wakes him up) and the doctor prescribes... [[HairOfTheDog lime in the coconut, drink them both together.]] Then she'll feel better.
* OneWordTitle: "One", often [[RefrainFromAssuming referred to as]] "One Is The Loneliest Number" instead.
* OnlyOneName: On many of his albums, he was credited as "Nilsson". (Which would make ''Harry'' a PunBasedTitle.)
* PleaseDontLeaveMe: "[[CaptainObvious Don't Leave Me]]".
* PopStarComposer: Of ''WesternAnimation/ThePoint'' and ''Film/{{Popeye}}''.
* PosthumousCollaboration: Made a guest vocal appearance on the title track of the 2016 reunion album ''Good Times!'' by Music/TheMonkees, which he wrote. The music had been recorded in 1968 with Nilsson singing a guide vocal, and for the album they had Micky Dolenz record a new vocal track that got combined with Harry's voice.
* PowerBallad: "Without You" was an early attempt to mix ingredients that later became PowerBallad mainstays.[[note]]solo piano intro, musical buildup, prominent drums at key moments, vocal starting out soft then getting more forceful toward the end. Really the only thing keeping it from being the UrExample is lack of a guitar solo.[[/note]] What makes it interesting is that Nilsson was approaching it from the opposite direction: a pop guy adding heavier elements to his music.
* ThePowerOfFriendship: "Me and My Arrow".
* PrecisionFStrike: "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!
** There's some swearing in "The Flying Saucer Song", which gets {{Lampshaded}}.
* PunBasedTitle: ''Duit on Mon Dei'' is a riff on the motto of the British Monarchy, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dieu_et_mon_droit "Dieu et mon droit"]]. Apparently this began as an inside joke among Music/TheBeatles during the Apple Corps era, then Ringo put it on the cover of his ''Ringo'' album.
* RepurposedPopSong: "Coconut" was nothing less than a ''shoe-in'' for ads for Coke Lime.
* RevengeOfTheSequel: ''Son of Schmilsson''.
* RuleOfThree: His studio albums divide neatly into informal trilogies: ''Pandemonium Shadow Show''/''Aerial Ballet''/''Harry'' (early virtuoso pop); ''Nilsson Sings Newman''/''The Point!''/''Aerial Pandemonium Ballet'' (concept albums); The ''Schmilsson'' albums; ''Pussy Cats''/''Duit on Mon Dei''/''Sandman'' (the Hollywood party animal period); ''...That's the Way It Is''/''Knnillssonn''/''Flash Harry'' (late career RevisitingTheRoots).
* {{Scatting}}: An indelible part of his vocal style.
* SelfBackingVocalist: One of the masters, due to his (then) uncanny vocal range. When he was first starting out, record executives were more interested in signing his "backup singers."
* SelfDemonstratingSong: "How To Write a Song" from ''Sandman''. ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin.
* SelfPlagiarism: His version of "I Don't Need You" (not the original, but released before the Music/KennyRogers version) has an arrangement that blatantly copies "Without You".
** His beloved theme song for the TV series ''The Courtship of Eddie's Father'', "Best Friend". He rewrote the lyrics of an album outtake song called "Girlfriend", took the backing track of the rhythmically similar "Daddy's Song", and combined them into a "new" piece.
* SelfTitledAlbum: ''Harry''.
* ShoutOut: Music/DavidBowie mentions Harry in his dialogue with Music/BingCrosby for the intro to "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy".
* SillyLoveSongs: Though not as abundant as you'd believe.
* SofterAndSlowerCover: His version of Louis Jordan's "Early In The Morning", taking an uptempo 1940s "jump blues" song and turning it into an anguished, stark ballad, with just Nilsson's vocal and an organ (played by him).
* TheSomethingSong: A few more than a few; "Daddy's Song", "The Lottery Song", "The Puppy Song" being a mere three examples.
* SongOfSongTitles: Nilsson's cover of "You Can't Do That" features backing vocals singing the titles of various Beatles songs during the verses.
* SopranoAndGravel: Invoked in "Coconut".
* StatuesqueStunner: "Jesus Christ You're Tall"
* StudioChatter: Featured on a few albums.
* TenLittleMurderVictims: "Who Done It?" is a quirky take on this.
** Also "Ten Little Indians", where each Indian dies after violating one of the Ten Commandments.
* TenorBoy: His persona on his early albums.
* ThemeNaming: Notice all the albums with variations of "Nilsson" up there?
* TrainSong: "Nobody Cares About the Railroads Anymore"
* UncommonTime: "There Will Never Be" on ''Pandemonium Shadow Show'' starts off in 5/4 and toggles between that and 3/4 for the rest of the song.
* ValuesDissonance: Invoked for parody with several songs on ''Harry''... a kind of super-sanitized chipper '50s worldview in the face of war, social changes, and more.
* VocalEvolution: Unfortunately, not the positive kind.
* WeUsedToBeFriends: George Aliceson Tipton was Nilsson's arranger up until ''Nilsson Schmilsson'', when he abruptly quit after recordng just one song. More than just an arranger, though, Tipton was a musical mentor and cohort for Nilsson (more than one person has compared the Nilsson/Tipton partnership to George Martin and Music/TheBeatles). Up to his death in 2016 Tipton steadfastly refused to discuss his work with Nilsson or why they split up. The best guess is that there was some dispute over credits and money, plus Nilsson's dissolute lifestyle making him harder to work with.
* WelcomeToTheCaribbeanMon: A surprising 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. He also later covered the calypso standard "Zombie Jamboree".
* WhiteDwarfStarlet: The subject of "Mr. Richland's Favorite Song".
* WordSaladLyrics: "Puget Sound"
* WordSchmord: This should be pretty obvious by now...