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ET - 1999.3
 
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Everybody's Talkin' - 1999.3

  Volume 1999.3
Everybody's Talkin'
The Schmilssonian Published Quarterly - $4.00
 

Stop The Presses
by Curtis Armstrong
In the August, 1999, issue of England's Mojo The Music Magazine, Johnny Black wrote a featured piece for the magazine's "Time Machine" column entitled "Harry's Cowboy Operation." Datelined "Los Angeles, August 16, 1969", the article recalled the story of Harry's and producer Rick Jarrard's discovery and recording of the Fred Neil tune which everyone still thinks Harry wrote. Harry is quoted as finding the song in demo form, earmarked for one of Jarrard's other acts, a band called Stone Country. (Skidoo) fans will recall that Stone Country appeared "as themselves" in Otto Preminger's legendary comedy/satire/movie/whatever.) The article follows the song on it's two-year journey from recording (November 8, 1967) to it's release (the second time) in August of 1969, "giving songwriter Nilsson his chart debut with the only song on his LP not written by him."

September, 1999, saw an extensive article on Harry and John Lennon in the excellent Spanish-language rock and roll magazine Ruta 66, written by good friend and devoted Spanish Schmilssonian, Ramon Robert. Ramon has written numerous articles for the music press and liner notes for BMG's various Spanish re-releases over the last few years and he did Harry proud in this eight-page, copiously illustrated look back, entitled "Cualquier Cosa que te ayude a pasar la noche." The article focuses on the "lost weekend", including a "Lost Weekend Top 13" album list. The article includes a sidebar with a review of the Buddha re-release of Pussy Cats which includes a plug for "the Nilsson fanzine, Everybody's Talkin'."

Number 11 on Dave Thompson's list of the Top 25 albums of 1974 (for Goldmine Magazine's 25th Anniversary) was: Harry Nilsson and John Lennon - Pussy Cats. His review, which was apparently intended to be a laudatory one, came off as ambivalent at best:

"Hit any karoke bar and you'll see them, filthy drunks wrapping inebriated tonsils around another defenseless ditty - 'Save The Last Dance For Me' (assuming I'm still able to stand at that point); 'Many Rivers To Cross' (and that's just getting out of the men's room); and everybody's favorite, 'Rock Around The Clock' (then collapse beneath the table). It's pitiful and pathetic, and after a quarter of an hour you've had enough. So how come this album remains immaculate, a quarter century after the same sordid facts?"
[Phew! For a minute there, I thought he didn't like it!]

Back at Mojo, in November of 1999, we found good news for British Harryheads: The "What's Happening in Reissues" column announced that "Eleven Harry Nilsson albums, chronicling the career of the Beatles' favorite songwriter from 1967's Pandemonium Shadow Show to the Lennon-produced Pussy Cats from 1974, hit the shelves in January and will benefit from rare singles, unheard demos and outtakes. Seven albums are squeezed onto three discs, leaving only the classic early seventies albums - Nilsson Schmilsson, Son of Schmilsson, A Little Touch of Schmilsson In The Night, and Pussy Cats - as stand alone CDs." In fact, while Pussy Cats (the Buddha version) will be available in the U.K. starting in January, the other albums won't surface until May. And only Nilsson Schmilsson and Son of Schmilsson will include any unreleased material.

Ice, the CD news magazine announced the continuing Buddha re-releases in their January 2000 issue. "Buddha forges ahead into the next century with the upcoming reissues of Harry Nilsson's Nilsson Sings Newman and Waylon Jennings' The Rambling Man, both scheduled for February 8," ice wrote, with what may have been irony. They got all the details right, though.

Speaking of Buddha, Discoveries Magazine's December, 1999 issue included an in-depth interview with Buddha's top gun, Alex Miller. Robin Platts' article began with the following quote of Miller's: "I love Harry Nilsson and I could talk about him all day." When Robin mentions how, until recently, it had been difficult finding anyone at RCA who even knew who Harry Nilsson was, Alex relates how, at age 13, he had written RCA telling them how much he loved Nilsson and offering to shoot the cover of his next album. "So here I am, 27 years later, and the first thing I want to delve into is Harry Nilsson." The article is a must read for Nilsson fans, who will be relieved to know that there is a real fan at the top of the label, for a change. In the same issue, in the discNews column, Platts noted the inflated prices being paid on eBay for DCC's reissue of The Point!, "which is already getting hard to find, if the prices being paid at on-line auctions are anything to go by." Platts goes on to note that many copies of the Nilsson tribute CD, For The Love of Harry - Everybody Sings Nilsson have shown up for auction: "Although this disc is apparently out-of-print," Platts writes, "it is not particularly rare yet. One Nilsson-related tribute disc that's very collectable is the Yoko Ono tribute CD Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him. A copy of this long out-of-print CD recently sold for $41.00 on eBay." Discoveries then followed up in the same column in their January 2000 issue, with Platts noting that "a month from my last column, it would seem that Nilsson fans have now realized that The Point! is still in print. Platts noted that copies that had been going for anywhere from $24.00 to $29.00, "have recently sold for about $10.00-$15.00."

Goldmine Magazine closed out the year (December, 1999) with an interview with Ringo Starr (and Harry Nilsson) producer Mark Hudson. The object of the article was Ringo's new Christmas album, but when talking about the title track, "I Wanna Be Santa Claus", Hudson said, "Dick Monda brought the song, and knowing Ringo's friendship with Harry Nilsson, and my friendship with Harry Nilsson as well, I thought, who is Harry Nilsson now? Nobody. Why? I don't know. Do I miss it? Yes. All those harmonies, all that theatrical [sings like Harry] 'Me and my Arrow.' So when you take 'I Wanna Be Santa Claus' and you A-B that to 'Me and My Arrow' from The Point!, the similarity of it's aura is all around, and Ringo picked up on that and we jumped on that song, and that's how that one made it."

Don't Touch That Dial: ET co-editor Curtis Armstrong spent the last couple of months of 1999 doing radio interviews for a dozen or more top 40 and classic rock stations around the country, supposedly talking about his career as an actor, but really plugging the Buddha release of Pussy Cats. The experience was, ummm, educational. The response of deejays to the news of the re-release of Harry's 25 year-old album varied, from dumb-as-dirt ignorance (a solid majority); to confusion (the Florida deejay who, after going on about how much he loved Harry's music, admitted that his favorite Nilsson song of all was "Sunshine Superman"); to an actual, died-in-the-wool fan with unshakable bona fides: Chad Silvius, station manager of Extreme 96.3 in Fort Wayne, Indiana and his wife have named their new son "Nilsson Lennon Silvius."


The Space-Time Continuum
Harry appeared on the cover of the February 12, 1973, issue of Time Magazine. A little more than twenty years later, his son Zak Nilsson was quoted in the March 20, 1995, issue of Time defending the new TV series, "Star Trek: Voyager": "So what if some of the plots in Voyager seem to be rehashed," wrote Zak Nilsson of Milford, New Hampshire. "Do you think the only reason people watch the show is to see a never-before-seen plot extravaganza that will completely blow their mind?"


Movie Trivia
Son of DraculaHarry was not the first choice to star in "Son of Dracula." According to director Freddie Francis, Ringo Starr's original choice for the role was David Bowie.

Jay Fairbank is credited with writing the screenplay for "Son of Dracula." Fairbank is the pen name for actress Jennifer Jayne. Born in 1932, her real name is Jennifer Jones. Her acting credits include "The Trollenberg Terror" (1958), "Raising the Wind" (1961), "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors" (1965), "They Came From Beyond Space" (1967), "Mother in The Medusa Touch" (1978), and "The Doctor and the Devils" (1985). She also wrote the screenplay for "Tales That Witness Madness" (1973).

The FBI was concerned about how Otto Preminger's "Skidoo" would portray the agency. Agents investigated and interviewed Preminger and Skidoo star Jackie Gleason.

Executives at United Artists initially did not want to use Harry's recording of "Everybody's Talkin'" in the film "Midnight Cowboy" because it had already been published and they did not own the rights to the song. But, according to Director John Schlesinger, "when we showed the film to UA for the first time, the head of music leapt up said 'Where did you get that song from? That is a fabulous song!' So we told him he'd heard it six months earlier when we'd brought it by, and he said 'Well, I don't remember. We gotta get it, we gotta get it!'"

Filter's cover of Harry's "One" was the only song especially commissioned for the soundtrack to the X-Files movie. The producers added the song after actor David Duchovny ad-libbed the line "One is the loneliest number" during a scene.

Producer David Puttnam was impressed by Harry's song "1941" and asked writer Ray Connolly to create a screenplay based on it. The resulting film, "That'll Be The Day," does not closely resemble the story in the song. It is rumored that Harry made a cameo appearance in the film which may have ended up on the cutting room floor.

Director Robert Altman took the cast and crew of "Popeye" to Anchor Bay on the island of Malta. Over 100 men worked seven months to construct the Popeye set. Wood had to be imported from Canada. When they finished, the fictional village of Sweethaven consisted of nineteen buildings including a hotel, a school-house, a store, a post office, a church, and, of course, a tavern. The Sweethaven set still stands and is a tourist attraction.

The New Jersey group Guitari incorporated samples of "I Yam What I Yam," "Sailin'," and "It's Not Easy Being Me," from the Popeye soundtrack album into their songs "Hero" and "I Yam What I Yam (Popeye Rap)."

Oblio and Arrow"The Point!" was the first animated made-for-TV film. Fred Wolf Films, the producer of "The Point!," is planning a TV series called "The Never Ending Adventures of Oblio and Arrow."




roger@jadebox.com