For the Love of Harry: Harry Nilsson Tribute Show Thursday at Ruta Maya
If you haven’t a clue, perhaps watching Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everbody Talkin’ About Him?) would be a good start.
In this brilliant documentary, friends and fellow artists and musicians of Harry Nilsson describe the brilliance – and the darkness – they found within him. He brought such incredible originality to the table. He wasn’t interested copying anybody else, or maybe it didn’t really occur to him. He was a combination of beauty and absolute venom. He was the closest thing to the American version of The Beatles.
To this day, countless bands and songwriters continue to be influenced by the work of Nilsson, and there are the new fans being introduced to his music, like his 1971 release Nilsson Schmilsson. Let us not forget the rediscovery, if you will, of the phenomenal soundtrack to Popeye (1980), the film directed by Robert Altman that brought the cartoon to life, starring Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall and featuring some of the most beautiful songs written by Nilsson. (Not surprisingly, Olive Oil’s sweet serenade to her hero, “He Needs Me,” is quickly becoming a favorite in some local music circles.)
This week, there’ll be a special tribute performance, called For the Love of Harry – if you recall, that’s the name of a 1995 tribute album featuring an all-star cast of musicians doing Harry Nilsson songs. This tribute show will be a local all-star affair with the fabulous Harry Hoot Orchestra, featuring members of the Asylum Street Spankers, Okkervil River and The Lovely Sparrows, plus performances by Hilary York, Drew Smith and many others.