One of my favorite singers of all time is a guy you may have vaguely heard of named Harry Nilsson. You probably know him best as either the guy who sings the "Coconut" song on the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack or the guy who sings "Everybody's Talkin'" on the Midnight Cowboy (and Forrest Gump) soundtrack. But he also released plenty of other brilliant songs, including "Without You" and "Jump Into the Fire" (yes, that one was used in Goodfellas.)
He died in the 1990s after years of alcohol abuse and failed comebacks, having blown out his vocal cords during his mid-70s peak. He died not long after a woman allegedly embezzled his entire life savings, but no one held any major star-studded fundraisers for him. His best musical collaborator and friend John Lennon was long dead by then and the other Beatles, who had named him their favorite American singer and launched his career, seemed to have forgotten about him.
Now, a new documentary — years in the making — aims to right a heinous cultural wrong. Who Is Harry Nilsson' (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)? opens tomorrow in select cities and has been getting almost unanimous praise from critics who thought they'd had enough has-been-musician-documentaries like 30th Century Man and so forth.
Director John Scheinfeld told me: "Harry Nilsson inspired the Beatles, the Who, Randy Newman, Brian Wilson
and so many other legendary musicians and this film reveals why he mattered so much to them and why he still matters to the generations of musicians that followed."
Here's the trailer: