Alyn Shipton has written what has to be the definitive biography of John Lennonâ€™s favorite â€œgroup,â€ the singer/songwriter/world class drinker, Harry Nilsson with his Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter. A notoriously rebellious soul (nice guy but certainly a man going his own way with his career choices), Harry Nilsson went from humble songwriting beginnings penning â€œOneâ€ (a song Three Dog Night made a hit of), scored his own huge hit with â€œEveryboyâ€™s Talkin’â€ the title track to Midnight Cowboy to releasing, writing and recording his beautiful multi-octave range on such classics like â€œMe and My Arrowâ€ the seminal and silly â€œCoconutâ€ and classic â€œWithout You.â€
Unfamiliar as one might be with the specifics of this manâ€™s output and life, you only have to look to Shiptonâ€™s fine research to get every gewy morsel of what was surely an amazing American pop iconâ€™s career. Nilsson might not be a household name as other American pop stars of his era were, but I assure you if you stop to listen to his songs, not hits and pour over a book like this, youâ€™re going to come away with quite a bunch of great rock facts (and wonderfully wild stories, in and out of the recording studio) that will endear Nilsson to your heart.
As I have opined in many a review and to the fraying patience of those who have heard me say this too often, the 70â€™s were a glorious time for pop/rock music and Nilsson, making music for so many other wonderful men and women, some known, others not so known, created a tapestry of sound that defined that special era.Â He was a special talent working in a special time and Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter makes this fact very clear.