Harry Nilsson’s Son of Schmilsson was released in 1972, a follow-up to the prior year’s Nilsson Schmilsson, his biggest commercial hit. This album was more experimental and risky than its predecessor.
A case in point is today’s jaunty SOTD, ‘You’re Breakin’ My Heart,’ which could have been a hit had it not opened with the lines “You’re breaking my heart, you’re tearing it apart, so fuck you.” Nearly 40 years later, in a much different era, Cee-Lo Green found success with a similar sentiment.
Before I get to my random SOTD, let me wish a Happy Father’s Day to my dear father and to all fathers across the land.
Harry Nilsson was a moderately successful singer-songwriter with five studio albums under his belt in 1970, when he decided to record an album of songs written by Randy Newman.
At the time, Newman was a prolific writer of songs for other people but had released only one album — a major flop — under his own name. He was nothing close to a household name, which made Nilsson Sings Newman a bizarre detour for the ascendant Nilsson.
For almost as long as I’ve been postings Songs of the Day (10 years come July!) I’ve wanted to do a series of songs named after numbers. One month’s worth, from ‘One’ to ‘Thirty One.’ For some reason I never got around to it until now.
Each day of March, I’ll feature a song that shares a title with the date. Wherever possible, I’ll use songs whose titles are just the number with no words. But that’s harder to pull off for some numbers, and sometimes I just like a song enough to give it a pass.
My final album of 1970 (which on the whole was an excellent year for music, I’ve discovered) is Harry Nilsson’s Nilsson Sings Newman. This record is a collaboration between Nilsson and one of my favorite songwriters and performers of all time, Randy Newman.
Newman didn’t just write the ten tracks on this album but played piano on them as well. And while I can’t imagine anybody topping Newman’s readings of his own songs, Nilsson’s sweet vocals are a nice match for the masterfully simple tunes on this album. I think I need to buy this thing pronto.
Now here’s a song that I’d never heard before discovering it through this cover version. ‘Don’t Forget Me’ was originally written and recorded by Harry Nilsson for his 1974 album Pussy Cats.
That album was produced by John Lennon and features a wild cover of Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ as well as gentler fare like this. Apparently Nilsson and Lennon’s hard partying carried over into the studio and resulted in a wild, half-genius, half-WTF album.
Nilsson even ruptured a vocal cord during the sessions but kept it to himself, and you can hear his voice getting progressively more harsh through the record.