Showing posts with label Harry Nilsson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Harry Nilsson. Show all posts

Monday, January 11, 2021

Fifty Years of Music • January, 1971

1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser Station Wagon

"Well it's been fifty years somewhere." 
–Anonymous

As we roll into 2021, I'm going to keep the monthly feature of going back to reconnect with music released 50 years ago from the current month, and so that takes us to January, 1971. Here's a quick timeline of events and a special automobile.

  • Jan. 1- The last cigarette commercials on U.S. television and radio were broadcast, and tobacco manufacturers spent $1,250,000 for the farewell advertising prior to the ban that went into effect at midnight. The last commercial was a 60-second ad for Virginia Slims that was run by the Philip Morris company at 11:59 during a break on The Tonight Show on NBC. The company had bought the last pre-midnight ads on the late night talk shows of all three networks, with ads for Marlboro on CBS on The Merv Griffin Show and for Benson & Hedges on ABC on The Dick Cavett Show.
  • Jan. 5 - Former world heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston was found dead in his Las Vegas home, after having last been heard from a week earlier. A coroner determined that Liston had probably died on December 30 after falling while alone. The date was arrived at based on the number of newspapers and milk that had been delivered to his home but not picked up.
  • Jan. 12 - The landmark television sitcom All in the Family premiered on CBS at 9:30 in the evening, opposite the ABC and NBC made-for-TV movies.
  • Jan. 25 -The murder trial of serial killer Charles Manson and three of his "Manson Family" followers ended with the jury returning guilty verdicts against all four. Manson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins were convicted of seven counts of first degree murder in the Tate–LaBianca murders of August 9 and 10, 1969, and Leslie Van Houten was found guilty of the five murders committed on August 9.
  • Jan. 30 - The UCLA Bruins college basketball team began a winning streak of 88 consecutive games, defeating UC-Santa Barbara 74-61, seven days after losing to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, 89-82. Ironically, Notre Dame would end the streak, defeating UCLA 71-70 on January 19, 1974.
  • Jan. 31 - Apollo 14, carrying astronauts Alan B. Shepard, Jr., Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell on the first manned lunar mission since the failure of Apollo 13, lifted off from Cape Kennedy. 
    From January 1971, Wikipedia

That puts me at almost sixteen with still just a Driver's Permit behind the wheel of the family station wagon with either mom or dad. Here the car pictured above from a Google search is the spitting image of how our Vista Cruiser looked in 1971. I couldn't wait until my birthday in March to take my driver's test, and captain 'the big boat' by myself.

My lasting memories of the ol' wagon are: the smell of cigarettes embedded in the green vinyl seats as my mom had banned my dad from smoking in the house; sitting in the second row bench seat and looking up through the progressively designed tinted top and sides sun roof windows; and, telling friend Bill DeVoe a story while driving- looking at him instead of the road, Bill yelling, "look out!" and then me swerving like the tour guide on the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland to avoid rear-ending a car waiting to make a left turn- I made a hard right, narrowly missing the car, and corrected with a hard left to avoid the sidewalk curb, and a then a moderate right back to center in the road, and continued on the way to my house. Bill just looked at me and said, "You lucky bastard."

The playlist this week brought back memories too. Janis Joplin had just died in October, 1970 from a heroin overdose at the tender age of twenty-seven. At fifteen, I remember thinking, how does someone die at twenty-seven when not in a war, or car accident? Her album, Pearl was released in January, 1971 that went #1 on the Billboard 200 for nine weeks. Me and Bobby McGee also went to #1 as a single from Pearl as her cover of this Kris Kristofferson song brought him into the spotlight.
Nantucket Sleighride from the band Mountain was also released in January, 1971 but it missed me because my friend and next door neighbor Ron Zieman had moved back to New York the previous summer. Ron was a big Mountain fan and I know I would have been blasted in the confines of Ron's bedroom to the sounds of Nantucket Sleighride. Sadly, Mountain's big man Leslie West who played lead guitar and vocals just pasted away on December 23, 2020. Recently, Ron and I connected on the phone to talk about West and his talented bandmate (Cream and Mountain Producer), Felix Pappalardi, who was shot and killed by his wife Gail Collins in 1983. 

'Fifty years of Music' is a great exercise for me to rediscover musicians and bands who I was not exposed to back in the day. Ian (or Iain) Matthews is a perfect example of somebody who I have heard of mainly through his band Matthews Southern Comfort, but really haven't heard his music. That is now changing as I started listing to his second solo album, released in January, 1971, If You Saw Thro' My Eyes. As I was listening to the album, I kept saying to myself, "Why do I not know this guy?" If you like folk/Americana, you're going to want to dive into Iain Matthews.


Lastly, The Point! a children's story and album by Harry Nilsson is a long time favorite of mine. As a bonus, I've included the entire one hour and fourteen minute adaption of the story as its available as a YouTube video! You can watch it, only if you first listen to my playlist (just kidding, kinda). The Point, an animated adaptation of the story, first aired February 2, 1971, and was the first animated special ever to air in prime time on US television; it appeared on the ABC television network as an ABC Movie of the Week. The film was directed by Fred Wolf and produced by Murakami-Wolf Films in association with Nilsson House Music. YouTube


Stay well my friends and mask-up!


The Point, 1971 Animated Movie 
Story Narrated by Harry's friend, Ringo Starr

Note - There is a slight glitch in this video as it starts at almost the end?
With your cursor, simply move the red 'Time' bar left back to the beginning at 0:00. 

Monday, March 30, 2020

50 Years of Music • January - March, 1970

50 Years of Music Series • 1970
January - March | April - May

Simon and Garfunkel at the 1971 13th Annual Grammy Awards | Bettmann/Getty Images
Something old, something new... part of the good luck tradition for a bride on her wedding day. In the past several months I haven't seen any brides floating about, but thought I'd borrow the expression.

Three weeks ago, I put together a playlist of "something new" music releases from January-March, 2020 thinking that might be popular with so many people home and online. It wasn't a dud but maybe not the #ComfortSongs to go along with maybe some of the #ComfortFoods you've been wanting or having at your #StayatHome. By the way, has cooking made a comeback at your house too?

Last week, I put together the 50th anniversary of CSN&Y's Déjà vu album, and Joni Mitchell's Ladies of the Canyon, and that got a pretty good bump of blog hits coming in. With that in mind, I'll continue the "something old" theme by highlighting albums released from January - March from 1970. It's an amazing collection of albums and the number of great songs within those albums are truly impressive.

Here are a few thoughts I strung together while putting this 100+ Playlist together derived from my Wikipedia source, 1970 in music.

I'll start with the Grammy album of the year for 1970,
Bridge over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel. What's not to like on this entire album. If I have to pick one to start off the playlist, I'm going with Cecilia an all-time favorite which also reminds me of a quick story growing up in a Baptist Church. I remember when Love The One You're With was a hit by Stephen Stills in late 1970 and a girl in my youth group commented to me, "I just can't stand these dirty songs like Cecilia and Love The One You're With." About a year later, I came up to her at church and said, "Guess you'll have to add Change Partners to your dirty songs list."

The Magic Christian was a February 1970 movie starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. The soundtrack, Magic Christian Music is by the band Badfinger and features their first big hit written and produced by Paul McCartney, Come and Get It. I thought this was going to be a quick skip-through album, but I kept saying to myself, "wait a minute, this one's good...this one's good" and so on. Like so many albums I discover fifty years after their release, Magic Christian Music's a gem from a truly great band as most people only know their hits.

Last week I watched a 2011 documentary about George Martin (the 5th Beatle) on Amazon Prime called, Produced by George Martin (link here) that I highly recommend. George Martin produced Ringo's first solo album, Sentimental Journey and the two make a great team doing a complete album of "standards" that had not had been attempted by any rock star until Ringo did it. Ringo has always been maligned by the press over the years, but now most critics say he's not only a great drummer but a very good singer to boot. Listen to Ringo sing Night and Day by Cole Porter.

When I was fifteen, I would have never have listened to Frank Sinatra's Watertown, much less Ringo's Sentimental Journey. In Watertown, Sinatra takes a 1970 ride on the singer-songwriter wave with a themed-based album.  All the songs were written by the same team of  Bob Gaudio and Jake Holmes which is something Frank had never done before. This indeed was a risky move as Watertown was Frank's worst selling album, but the critics loved it and I think it's a wonderful album too. It's a heartbreaking tale of a wife who leaves her husband and two children searching for stardom. Make sure you listen to, The Train.

If I didn't mention the band Mountain here, I'd probably get a concerning phone call from my old friend and childhood next door neighbor Ron Zieman wondering if I lost my mind. Ron introduced me to the best "heavy" rock bands over the years starting with Cream. Felix Pappalardi who produced some of Cream's albums started Mountain with Leslie West and their first album Climbing climbed the charts with their big hit, Mississippi QueenWhen the group proceeded to record "Mississippi Queen", Pappalardi insisted on numerous takes. Growing weary, Corky Laing the drummer started using the cowbell to count off the song. Pappalardi liked it so much he left it in the mix, creating the song's recognizable intro (Wikipedia). And as Christopher Walken would say, "More Cowbell."

Moondance is simply one of the greatest albums of all time. As a teenager I really didn't appreciate Van Morrison until I got to San Diego State and started rooming with my buddy Mark Hunter. Mark was from Millbrae CA, just south of San Francisco and if you're from the Bay Area you know "Van the man." Every song on this album is fantastic. In the last several years, I've really taken a deeper dive into his music and loved seeing him in Las Vegas in February. Check out Into the Mystic, this song is right up there...

The personnel on Leon Russell's debut album is largely a who's who of rock 'n' roll royalty, not to mention half of England. Again, so many great songs on this album including the all-time, "A Song for You", written by Russell, is a slow, pained plea for forgiveness and understanding from an estranged lover, the tune is one of Russell's best-known compositions. It has been performed and recorded by over 200 artists, spanning many musical genres. Elton John has called the song an American classic (Wikipedia).

I purchased Nilsson Sings Newman in a used record shop after Harry Nilsson become really famous with his 1971 album, Nilsson Schmilsson. Again, this album is filled with great songs. Both albums followed me to college and I listened to them often in my dorm room and then in a series of forgettable apartments. In fact in my first forgettable apartment, my complete stereo system was stolen (a high school graduation present) with Harry Nilsson's 1974 Pussy Cats album on the turntable. I'll never forget coming home, opening the door and seeing a large empty space where the stereo system used to be with now the Pussy Cats empty album jacket laying in its place. My first thought was F***!!!!!, then I thought, well Pussy Cats was not Harry's finest hour on vinyl. But as long as I'm talking today about great "standards" albums like Sentimental Journey and Watertown today, check out Nilsson's 1973 A Touch of Schmilsson in the Night, a classic and one of Harry's finest hours.

Mary Kit says to me, "108 videos this week, man you must have some spare time..."

Monday, August 26, 2019

Summer of '69 (August), 50 Years of Music

August of '69, I'm about to enter high school and be on the freshmen football team. The tradition was that every football player at Santa Maria High School had to buzz cut their hair in order to try-out.

Can you imagine, all my friends are growing long(er) hair and I have to look like I'm going into the military. In 1969, the military draft were taking boys just 4 years older than me, to Vietnam.

My new buzz cut was a serious blow to my wannabe hippy thing. Maybe listening to bands like Jethro Tull with my next door neighbor Ron would keep me at least at the counterculture back door, looking in.

Now listening to Jethro Tull's album, Stand Up 50 years later is like a lightning bolt flash back. Ron had purchased the album, and like I've said many times in my blogs, I'm sitting on his bed listening and looking at the album cover art. Our auditory music memory is like our sense of smell, you hear it and you're right back in a place long ago. Stand Up holds up!

Next up, Green River by Creedence Clearwater Revival. I loved this album with one of my top 100 songs of all-time, Bad Moon Rising.

Mary Kit and I saw John Fogerty in Las Vegas a couple of years ago and he really puts on a fantastic show. If you have not seen John Fogerty recently, I highly recommend you go to one of his shows, it will make everything in the world pause for a couple of hours. Mary Kit says he's back in Vegas this November with his 50 Year Trip.

John's music is so pure and I often link Booker T. and the MG's and CCR with both having a simple and authentic sound that has stood the test of time. Green River holds up!

I have most Donovan albums checked in my Amazon Music app and he randomly comes up on many a trail run, and I rarely skip a song. By 1969, Barabajagal was his seventh studio album and he kept his hits streak rolling with this album. I've included the song, I Love My Shirt which so reminds me of a song that the great children's songwriter, Raffi  could have written. Donovan always did his own thing and didn't try to imitate Bob Dylan. I like that Donovan usually did an anti-war song on his many albums and on this one penned, To Susan on the West Coast Waiting [From Andy in Vietnam Fighting].

Santana is Santana's debut album who were one of the unknown bands to the Woodstock audience a few weeks prior in August of '69. Talk about great timing! Santana took off like a roaring lion and Carlos has never stopped. I'm partial to this original lineup and had the pleasure of seeing the organ and lead singer for Santana, Gregg Rolie several years ago in Ringo Starr's All-Star Band. Greg sings Santana's early hits and is never recognized until he starts singing and Ringo's crowds love it!

Harry is Harry Nilsson's fourth studio album and like most people I didn't get back to this album until he became more famous in the 1970's. The big song from this album is I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City, the similar sounding song to Fred Neil's Everybody's Talkin', the smash hit from the 1969 film, Midnight CowboyDirector John Schlesinger had been using Nilsson's cover of Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'" as an example of the kind of song he wanted on the final soundtrack but then decided not to replace it. If "I Guess the Lord ..." had been included, it would have been eligible for an Oscar, as it was an original song. Harry Nilsson did win a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Everybody's Talkin'" [in 1970]. Wikipedia.


The summer of '69 is a memorable  period for millions of Americans. We landed on the moon in July and then Woodstock in August. In September, The Beatles release Abbey Road and we begin to close out a decade with some of the most memorable music ever made.

At fourteen, I didn't realize the impact of living in 1969 until years later, but often reflect back here in this blog with the knowledge and experience of When I'm Sixty-Four.

Grandchildren on your knee...

Peace and Love 2019 my friends!


Here is the Spotify Playlist link this week- Summer of '69 (August), 50 Years of Music.
Youtube Playlist embedded here.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Harry Nilsson - Good Old Desk

My old desk does an arabesque,
In the morning when I first arrive 
It's a pleasure to see, it's waiting there for me
To keep my hopes alive


This past week I came across the 1968 song, Good Old Desk by Harry Nilsson from his third album, Arieal Ballet while listening to streamed music at well... my desk. I have a tricked out 60"x 30" sit to stand electric desk that I purchased at IKEA in 2015 (see build).  Since retiring from my 35 year teaching career, it has become my new place of work.

Almost everyday, I get up in the morning and write something into the cloud from my good old desk. It has really become an extension of myself as I grow my educational consulting business, do research, write my book (with Richard Oka), or post a music blog before my self-imposed deadline of Monday at 8am. The blog title, Monday Monday Music (yes inspired by The Mamas and Papas) but strictly named on my part to kick my ass into actually writing something every week.

My favorite desk story is that it's going to be Mary Kit's birthday a couple of years ago, and I decided to get her a 32" TV for her office/sewing room. I order it from Amazon Prime and it doesn't show up for a week. We call, they can't locate it and send another one out, and it comes in two days. Then, about three weeks later, the original comes with the box a little worse for wear, but its fine. We call, and Amazon says, "just keep it." The picture above of me standing, is MY 32" TV/computer monitor that I use to mirror my laptop screen, on my desk. I blow the text up and man, I can even take off my reading glasses and pretend I'm reading 12 point font again. Also, my grandchildren love to control the up and down button (with my supervision) and watch the desk grow and shrink.

So, if you're at your work desk right now and going through your email or on the web and come across this blog, take a listen about a place where maybe you spend a good deal of time. If you don't like your current desk, think of it as, "a sad song and make it better." I mean it, start right now, concoct a plan to get a better desk that fits YOU. Nothing better than creating at a space that you can call, "my good old desk."

If you already like your desk and it kind of follows with this song, knock on wood.



Monday, June 22, 2015

James Taylor, for the long run

This past week James Taylor released, Before This World, his 17th studio album of new material and first since October Road, in 2002. James says in this recent article about his life and crafting songs, James Taylor: 'A big part of my story is recovery from addiction'"It used to be that these songs got squeezed out of every pore, and you just couldn’t stop ’em. Then it slowly turned to where you had to kind of coax them out. Now you have to pull them out with a winch."

I often go back to the classic tale of the Tortoise and the Hare, as a life's lesson in defining achievement. My take has a slight twist on the classic line, 'slow and steady wins the race'. I would prefer to say, "slow and steady for the long run." As an inspiration to us all, James has done just that. After a whirlwind start, James was fast out of the gate, first young artist to sign with the Beatles on Apple Records, drug addiction, hit songs and famous women, and a life of activism. Except for the drug part, James was the man, or at least the walking man in the 70's to aspire to. But as addiction and fame take so many, James learned to slow down and set a new, slower pace for himself. I'm personally inspired by James to enjoy the fruits of life but also stay steady on our run here on earth and to always keep creating.

So last Tuesday, I bought Before This World and highly recommend you purchase it too. Now as I get older, I find myself getting extremely emotional when watching a great movie, drama or news show, and of course, great music. On Saturday, Mary Kit and I saw, Everybody's Talkin': The Music of Harry Nilsson, at the Lyceum Theater in San Diego. Well, if you read my previous blog, As time goes by Harry Nilsson, you hold up, you know I'm a big Harry Nilsson fan. Nilsson's music is so emotionally deep and was sung so well by the cast, that I teared up quite a bit during the whole play. Same thing this past week with listening to Before This World, tearing up because the songs are so deeply crafted and with James, it just hits home. The song, You and I Again is one of James Taylor's best songs ever, and I'm guessing you will agree as well.  I'll lead with it on my Before This World YouTube playlist. Enjoy and just keep creating and loving for the long run my friends.

Update - Before This World has debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 in it's first week! Though James has had eleven albums reach "Top Ten" in his career, this is his first #1 album. 



Monday, May 11, 2015

As time goes by Harry Nilsson, you hold up

Who is harry nilsson.jpgInto the late 1960's, pop and rock 'n' roll stars just couldn't sing other people's songs. Yes, all the greats still covered other artist's songs but it was a new day and the up and coming stars were both singers and songwriters. Harry Nilsson was one of the best. He could cover a tune as most of us first heard him on the radio in 1969 with the hit song, Everybody's Talkin' from the movie, Midnight Cowboy. Harry could also write songs with a range that put him in a very elite group of singer-songwriters by the early 1970's. But my god, the voice, this guy could sing as well as Bennett and Sinatra not only on ballads but rock 'n' roll tunes too.

If you haven't seen the documentary, Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)? Check it out on Netflix.

Harry Nilsson is one of my all-time favorites and his voice and songs simply hold the test of time. Enjoy my little YouTube Harry Nilsson Playlist here.


p.s. Blog update - With the demise of Grooveshark, I learned this past week how to make Playlists in YouTube. I played with Spotify and Amazon Prime music but for finding and creating playlists, YouTube is probably the best way to go.  YouTube has a treasure search of playing free music, not to mention making playlists on your Youtube Channel. With YouTube, I can also play my free playlists on my smartphone as well as share and embed them, like my blog here. Oh, and don't forget to put the lime in the coconut.