This post initially appeared at The Daily Music Break. It’s been edited and expanded a bit.
It’s ironic that Harry Nilsson, a songwriter of great renown, is best associated with a number that he didn’t write. “Everybody’s Talkin’ ” was written by Fred Neil. The song, according to Wikipedia, was released by Neil in 1966 and recorded two years later by Nilsson. It wasn’t particularly successful until it made the soundtrack of “Midnight Cowboy.” It became a hit and, arguably, the most effectively used pop song in motion picture history. It reached number two on the Billboard Contemporary Adult chart.
Nilsson was born in Brooklyn in 1941. His father abandoned the family, which bounced around and finally landed in southern California. Nilsson clearly was a unique character. The Beatles were big fans. According to the profile at his site, he had a close friendship with each. The highest profile of these was with John Lennon.
The profile also said that Nilsson jumped between genres and didn’t create a strong public profile because he never toured. A commenter at the YouTube for “Coconut” (below) wrote that he sometimes played open mics with anyone who would show up for such nights.
The sense is that Nilsson had a flippant attitude. Other artists took him seriously, however. The profile at his site says that he was recorded by Joe Cocker, Neil Diamond, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, Glen Campbell, Brian Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, Three Dog Night and others. Nilsson won two Grammy Awards. Nilsson died in 1994 at the age of 52.
“Everyone’s Talkin’ ” is above. “Coconut,” which is below, is sort of halfway between a serious and a novelty song. I love the “vibe,” as some people would call it. It’s on Nilsson’s highest profile album, “Nilsson Schmilsson.” Here it is at Amazon and iTunes. “Everybody’s Talkin’ ” was on the 1968 album “Aerial Ballet.”