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Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter Hardcover – July 18, 2013
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Award-winning British jazz critic Shipton calls Harry Nilsson “a songwriter’s songwriter.” Unlike most musicians, Nilsson never regularly toured and rarely performed in concert. Many of his songs were autobiographical, his way of exorcising perhaps the most painful episodes from his life, including his father’s abandoning the family when Nilsson was a boy and the gruesome death of his beloved cat. Shipton’s lovingly detailed biography of an often enigmatic figure chronicles the poverty of Nilsson’s childhood, his fledgling career as a singer-songwriter in Los Angeles, his bouts with fame, and his self-destructive behavior. His celebrity friendships are also explored, none more so than his complicated relationship with John Lennon. Shipton describes in detail the notorious incident that took place at the famous West Hollywood club, the Troubadour, in 1974, in which both men caused a drunken commotion. The murder of Lennon in 1980 had a profound impact on Nilsson; the notoriously private singer even campaigned for gun-control legislation. Nilsson fans will appreciate this long-awaited biography of an often neglected and underrated musician. --June Sawyers
"Shipton... balances Nilsson's tragic story with exacting analysis of his talents and similarly detailed accounts of bacchanalian exploits with ex-Beatles and other bons vivants." --Rolling Stone
"An amazing tale." --Boston Globe
"Nilsson fans will appreciate this long awaited biography of an often neglected and underrated musician." --lBooklist
"An in-depth and informative book."
-Below the Fold
"Readers of this engrossing new biography will come away with a tremendous knowledge of and respect for the man and his music. And a great sense of loss, as this delightful fellow departed far too soon. " --Pop-Culture Classics
"The definitive work on the man who put the lime in the coconut."
"Nilsson: The life of a singer-songwriter, is a fitting epitaph that keeps an unmatched legacy alive. Nilsson's eclectic, eccentric, funny-as-hell, wistful, whimsical, childlike brilliance will be listened to by people 100 years from now. And Shipton's biography does its best to explain it all."
"Shipton, well noted as a researcher in jazz, has produced a very well-researched biography. Certainly more historical than analytical, the book is a fine read and an important addition to the literature because as emerging songwriters begin to explore songs written during a key period of songwriting, they will have no choice but to gravitate toward Nilsson." -T.R. Harrison, Jacksonville University, CHOICE
"Alyn Shipton's biography of singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson is a thorough, loving depiction of one of the era's most endearing and enigmatic characters."--Pacific Rim Review of Books
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I picked up this book with only a passing interest in Harry Nilsson (when I was eleven years old, I laughed at "You're breaking my heart"....it had the f word in it.... and I remember necking in the basement of my parent's house to "Without You"...not much else). 300 plus pages later, I went to another side of Amazon and bought the 17 disk retrospective on his RCA career.
Mr. Shipton presents a very well researched, entertaining look at a complex individual. From his beginnings as a child of a broken home, his early days as a song plugger (and computer programmer), some pretty funny stories of his rowdy behavior, and the somewhat unhappy end to his life, you will be hooked.
Highly entertaining, and very much recommended...whether you like Harry or not
It was an interesting story, sad in parts, of a shining but unconventional star. Super songwriter, addict, friend of the Beatles, artist, father, son. Lots of people will know Harry by his cover hits "Without You" and "Everybody's Talking" but there is so much more music to discover. Alyn Shipton's book examines the man and his music in detail and I enjoyed it, but I was still hungry to know the whys behind his unconventional life. But as a fan of the man and his music I would highly recommend the book to someone with an interest in Harry or the times in which he lived.
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of his recordings is here, if that's what you are looking for.Read more