David Royko Psy.D
A Harry Nilsson Memory
A Harry Nilsson Memory
October 18, 2014
Chester Cannon of the Harry Nilsson Facebook group, posted:
We had a station in St. Louis that did new album Friday. So "Son of Schmilsson" comes out...well, you can figure out what happened...
When I was 13, the family took a trip to Europe in the summer of 1972 (our one time). We were in London, and my 9 year old brother Robby and I were alone in our hotel room with the BBC on the radio. I was already a huge Nilsson fan thanks to Nilsson Schmilsson, the only album I allowed myself to buy before I’d completed my collection of Beatles LPs (the foundation stone of my life-long music-collecting, slow-going on a fifty cents a week allowance). The very British (oh, so freaking cool) DJ announces, “And here’s something brand new by Harry Nilsson from his upcoming record, Son of Schmilsson.” I couldn’t believe my lucky timing! Then an accordion starts, Harry starts singing, “I’d rather be dead,” and we are riveted, with a little bit of “WTF?” mixed in. Two more, "I'd rather be dead"s, and then the punch line: "Than Wet My Bed." And what could be more hysterical for 9 and 13 year olds? We exploded with “AHH HAH HAH HAH HAH!!!!!” as we rolled around the bed. And, the cut had been recorded right there in London! The chorus of seniors singing along with him all had British accents! Layer upon layer of awesome. A great Harry memory.
From the British publication, Record Mirror, March 25, 1972
Postscript: My friend since 4th grade and my first "girlfriend," Laura Mason, responded to a follow-up comment about Nilsson's "Without You":
Laura: God I loved that album...great memories! Was that on the juke box at Billy Goats?
David Royko: "Without You" sure was. Laura, I'm sure you remember me as a gallant first "boyfriend" when we were both 7th graders and, after our "date" at a Daily News softball game (and a wholesome after-game boisterous good time at the Billy Goat Tavern), Dad took me aside and gave me $5 and said, "Take her out for an ice cream sundae or something." And as I was walking you home, I fessed up what Dad had just done and asked if you'd be mad if I used it instead to buy this new record called Nilsson Schmilsson. And you were wonderfully understanding. A belated Thank You!
And this is my response to Chester's original post:
In the late 1970s, I was doing a stint on my college's radio station. When I pulled "Son Of Schmilsson" off of the shelf and put the LP on the turntable, I noticed that one track (guess which one) had "NO" scratched deep into the vinyl, rendering that cut unplayable. It broke my heart ;-)
(If you aren't a hardcore Nilsson fan and don't get the joke... but make sure your little kids aren't around. If the link fails, do a search for "Harry Nilsson - You're Breaking My Heart.")