Archive for March 2009

The unruly pop star

March 29, 2009

As usual, the inspiration for tonight’s side came from elsewhere. It popped to mind last week when we wrote about legendary session guitarist Chris Spedding over at our other blog — AM, Then FM.

Spedding played on two of Harry Nilsson’s biggest records — “Nilsson Schmilsson” in 1971 and “Son of Schmilsson” in 1972. The former was Nilsson’s pop breakthrough, delivering the hit singles “Without You,” “Coconut” and “Jump Into The Fire.” The latter didn’t wow anyone at the time and delivered only “Spaceman” as a single.

Nilsson went off the deep end on “Son of Schmilsson,” indulging his whims and creating an irreverent, eccentric, sometimes rude album.

Its forays into questionable taste include lyrics certain to get no airplay — even now, in the case of “You’re Breakin’ My Heart” (“You’re tearin’ it apart/so f*ck you”) and perhaps “Take 54.” (“I sang my balls off for you, baby”)

Another song starts, then ends abruptly when Nilsson belches.

A senior citizens’ choir sings along on a tune proclaiming “I’d rather be dead/than wet my bed.” Ah, they must have been good sports.

I liked it all quite a bit when it came out. Of course, I was 15 at the time. I appreciate irreverence, but given some of the truly delightful songs on this record, all the wacky stuff seems a bit unnecessary now.

But as always, you be the judge as you listen to the somewhat more coherent Side 2.


“Spaceman,” “The Lottery Song,” “At My Front Door,” “Ambush,” “I’d Rather Be Dead” and “The Most Beautiful World In The World,” Harry Nilsson, from “Son of Schmilsson,” 1972. It runs 20:47.

All are written by Nilsson except for “At My Front Door,” which is a rollicking cover of the El Dorados’ R&B hit from 1955, a tune also known as “Crazy Little Mama.”