Thursday, July 26, 2012

40 Year Itch: Bang Bang Shoot 'Em Up Destiny


Shy and private, Harry Nilsson struggled with his fame. When fame came a-calling with his US/UK #1 interpretation of Badfinger's "Without You" and the Top 10 "Coconut", Nilsson's reaction was an odd one, verging on self-sabotage.He reveled in his bawdy side and displayed a sense of humor that could easily be taken the wrong way.

The obvious single, "You're Breakin' My Heart", had a lot going for it. Both Ringo and George Harrison ( as "George Harrysong") played on the cut --and so did a young Peter Frampton. The only reason it wasn't released on a 45 was the lyric: "You're breakin' my heart/You're tearin' it apart/So fuck you."

For the recording of "I'd Rather Be Dead" (than wet my bed), Nilsson and producer Richard Perry recruited a couple dozen senior citizens, liquored them up, and had them help him with the chorus. Most of the recording sessions were filmed for an unreleased documentary called Did Somebody Drop His Mouse? and this scene towards the end is the most entertaining.

Thank God for YouTube because here is the entire 40 minute doc:

"Spaceman" wound up being the single. It peaked at #23 in the Billboard charts ensuring Nilsson's fame would be short-lived and he'd remain a hero only to the rock and pop cognoscenti.


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