Sunday, November 23, 2008

TODAY'S TWD: HARRY NILSSON

It's been fourteen years since Harry Nilsson passed away, but he's still remembered in Toobworld. Just this week his memory was invoked in two different shows, 'Bones' and 'Life On Mars'.

From Wikipedia, here's a thumbnail look at Harry Nilsson:

Harry Edward Nilsson III (June 15, 1941 – January 15, 1994) was an American songwriter, singer, pianist, and guitarist who achieved the height of his fame during the 1960s and 1970s. For most of his recordings, he did not use his first name, and was credited only as Nilsson.

Despite some significant critical and commercial successes, including two Grammy Awards and two Top 10 singles, Nilsson's tendency to make broad stylistic jumps from one record to the next - coupled with his generally iconoclastic decision-making - kept him from capitalizing on his career. Among Nilsson's best-known recordings are "Without You", "Jump Into the Fire", "Everybody's Talkin'" (theme from the movie Midnight Cowboy) and "Coconut".

On 'Bones', Dr. Lance Sweets and his girl-friend Daisy were going to enjoy a night of karaoke to kick off the weekend. Sweets claimed that, in his estimation, he did a mean "Lime & The Coconut".
Here's what Wikipedia offered regarding that novelty number:

The second single was "Coconut", a novelty calypso number featuring three characters (the narrator, the sister, and the doctor) all sung in different voices by Nilsson. The song is best remembered for its chorus lyric, "Put de lime in de coconut, and drink 'em both up." Also notable is that the entire song is played using one chord, C 7th. Coconut was featured in Episode 81 (October 25, 1973) of 'The Flip Wilson Show'. The song has since been featured in many other films, commercials. It was also used in a comedy skit on "The Muppet Show", which featured Kermit the Frog in a hospital bed. In the 1995 movie "Houseguest", Sinbad's character (Kevin Franklin) says the famous line from the chorus ("Put de lime in the coconut, and drink 'em both up.") at one point in the movie. Most recently it has been heard in a television commercial for Coca-Cola with Lime. The song was also used during the end credits of Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs".

Nilsson made a video for the song, in which he pays homage to Ernie Kovacs most memorable routine, the Nairobi Trio. I've read that John Lennon is the gorilla at the piano, but I haven't been able to verify that.



During the last episode of the American version of 'Life On Mars' for this calender year (It returns January 28th.), Nilsson's song "Spaceman" was heard on the soundtrack to flavor the confrontation between Sam Tyler and the 1973 version of his father Vic. (Sam's dad encouraged his son's interest in the space program by giving him toy rocket-ships.)

I don't know if this played into the producers' decision to use the song for this particular episode, but - like Vic Tyler did to Sam - Nilsson's father walked out on the family when Harry was only four.

I love the song "Spaceman"; it intrigues me. How can something that sounds so happy, and is so much fun to sing, be so sad at the same time?

Anyhoo, here's a video that accompanies the song on YouTube:


BCnU!
Toby Schmobie

3 comments:

Brent McKee said...

John Lennon? No. Probably Jack Lemmon at the piano. Those two get mixed up all the time.

mike doran said...

Congratulations! You managed to get through the entire entry on Nilsson without even mentioning the theme song of THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE'S FATHER - - and in a TV blog yet. No mean achievement.

Toby said...

LOL, thanks, Mike! But since I was focusing on those two songs because of their use in TV this week, I didn't want to take the spotlight away from them....