Name: Harry Nilsson, Nilsson Schmilsson (RCA Victor, 1971).
Is this title acceptable? No. It is dumb. But that was done on purpose, because Harry was just like, fuck it, I got Klaus Voorman coming into the studio in a minute, I don't have time for this.
Produced by: Richard Perry, master of ass-shaking '80s R&B (De Barge, “Rhythm of the Night”) and ass-shaking '80s mellow disco with wonderful chord progression and sisterly harmonies (Pointer Sisters, “Automatic”) plus some Captain Beefheart and Joni along the way.
Entered my life: When I entered life. It’s my dad’s record and therefore my record. The benefit of living with a bearded white man who hoards music is that he'll share it with you and talk incessantly about it. Since dad's the model for manliness according to child development theories, I grew up thinking that all men enjoy talking incessantly about music with me (alas, they don't).
Global events at the time of its release: It was November ’71; “Inner City Blues” was number one, and was the third and final single from What's Going On (only 3 singles from that whole album? WTF, Berry Gordy). This was also the beginning of Marvin's red-beanie-and-denim-shirt era, his uniform for talking less about bedroom arts and more about kids in coffins with American flags draped on them.
Difficulty of finding, vinyl-wise (1-10 scale): There was no difficulty in my home, since I just had to walk into the living room to get it, so it was a big fat 0. In the store it's a 1 or 2, I think. Nilsson’s not obscure.
Breaks contained: None! See, sometimes I surprise you. There are some beauties on other albums, though--“Me and My Arrow” was used by Blackalicious and the drums from “Rainmaker” are on the Beatnuts' “Straight Jacket,” a song that kills it based on its gibberish-y chorus (rappening is what's happening, keep your pockets flappening, hands clappening) and because it has Juju bragging that he pulls honeys with the hips. I haven't met him, but as someone with hips I can tell you that yeah, that's true.
Best YouTube comment:
whugivsafuk wins, for this:
“This is the classic FATTEST ever bass line, Herbie Flowers going nuts...(I will soon be having whugivsafuk's baby, as I cannot let a man with such appreciation for fat bass get away)
Sample this shit.”
Facts of nerdy interest that excite me and might show up on Jeopardy! someday:
- Nilsson was from Bushwick. Just like Evil Dee and OC.
- “Jump Into the Fire”* plays during Henry Hill’s coke-y tailspin (the helicopter, the marinara sauce) at the end of Goodfellas.
- Nilsson did the score for Otto Preminger's Skidoo, a movie that everyone says is awful, and then at the end of their diatribe, everyone adds, “but the score is really good.” The end credits are funny because Nilsson sings them. Oh Harry.
- There's hardly any percussion on the album, but Harry makes it count on the few tracks that have some drums by allowing Jim Gordon to get loose and take it to the swamp and then bring it back home (not sure if I've mentioned it yet: “Jump Into the Fire”*). He was a session drummer who worked with Spector and was on Pet Sounds and a bunch of Zappa albums. He also killed his mom, but he was one of the DRUMMERS ON “APACHE” so all is forgiven.
Sartorial accompaniment: sweatshirt because it’s cold today, cutoff shorts because it’s not that cold, and affordable version of the stripper-librarian penny loafers I saw a while back, for getting coffee and going to the bookstore and being lazy. My aesthetic is “stripper librarian goes out for coffee and the new Granta,” because that is, in fact, exactly what happened today. I'm also hoping to get a hug at some point today, as I am feeling vulnerable and in need of support as a result of my inbox being flooded with messages from cranky young men--I often get accused of something called “flaunting it” (?), which I guess is just the pejorative version of “wearing clothes that fit my body properly,” ‘cause that’s really all I’m doing. Be nice, emailers.
Suitable activities while listening:
- Watch football, even though all the talk of running routes and pass protection and the Wildcat all starts to blend together. The Raiders are unstoppable and it's hard to remain calm about that.
- Read up on Weezers, who apparently was in jail recently (?). He's out now, though. Time for a Hornets game with dad!
- Suddenly remember El-P. Where is he. I miss him and I need him, desperately*. Everybody's talking at him, he don't hear a word they're saying/Only the echoes of his mind. Yet he manages to keep his acerbic sense of humor. And his avatar is a kitten!
Go set the moral compass to something a little sacrilege
I’ll pirate jenny this whole town, black freighter your maggotness
Nobody sleeps tonight, 50 car alarm evening
Perpetual garbage truck annoying ice cream truck jingling
Hey young world, your clock just got donkey punched by aristocrats
maniac brainiac fist fucked in a dunce cap
Looking at it from space you can see the race is just one lap
Your tranquility now is just future anarchy unhatched
I want a new drug plus alternate reality
Some dimensional shiftiness hidden from all the cowardly
(“Sit Down, Man”)
Other notable things about today:
- Still listening to the Hit it and Quit It Halloween mix, stillllllll—“Rigor Mortis” into “Evil” into “Instant Death,” with some Blacula snippets stuffed in there too!! Release the beast, people. The only thing missing is something by the Gravediggaz.