Harry Nilsson and Spotify
John Scheinfeld’s terrific 2010 documentary on Harry Nilsson, Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talking About Him?), counts as one of the films I watched last week (which would have been included in the m.i.a. Flick Clique; sorry). I got a ton of insight into Nilsson’s life and music from the film, since I’d only known him as an eccentric songwriter, John Lennon buddy and singer of “Without You” and the theme from The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. I’m also surprised that nobody’s done a film on him until recently, given the dramatic arc of Nilsson’s life. He was a brilliant talent in the ’60s, becoming a go-to songwriter of the day (like Jimmy Webb, who speaks about him in the doc) – but also being vocally talented enough on his own to score huge hits like 1968′s “Everybody’s Talkin’” (which ironically wasn’t a Nilsson-penned song). He also did entire albums devoted to Randy Newman, the American Songbook, and a children’s cartoon soundtrack (1971′s The Point!). There was a rampant self-destructive streak in him, however, which led to ever-more eccentric albums in the ’70s and alarming drug and alcohol abuse. It was nice to see him finally get some stability later on in his life (he died in 1994) being a loving husband and stay-at-home dad.
The timing of this came right when I decided to sign up for the basic plan with Spotify, which allows me to check out his albums one by one. Of course, Spotify’s vast music library only derives from what is currently in print from most major and some indie labels, but even then the selection is impressive. For Harry, they had three or four compilations and most of his ’60s-’70s LPs (except 1969′s Harry, for some reason). It seems to me that something like Spotify is more conducive to listening to albums as opposed to buying a CD and copying to your hard drive (where Greatest Hits, singles and compilations are more welcome). Sure, Spotify’s program is clunky and a big memory hog (I have to remember to pause it when opening other programs), and their integration with Facebook is something I don’t particularly care for, but so far I’m enjoying it enough to scale back my eMusic subscription. Having zillions of albums on hand to dig through is quite a joy. I’m not even done with Harry yet.
What else have I been listening to there? Expanded reissues from Blur and Aretha Franklin. Soundtracks to obscure old Broadway musicals like Seventeen and New Faces of 1952. Vintage Brazilian music by Chico Buarque and Quarteto Em Cy. Live albums by The Supremes and Firehouse Five Plus Two. Daryl Hall and John Oates’ folksy sounding first album. A newer release by British indie pop group Allo Darlin’. And a lot of playlists set up by friends and other Spotify users.
Here’s a couple of Nilsson tunes, for your enjoyment:
Tags: harry nilsson