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Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter Hardcover – July 18, 2013
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A great story, expertly told with extensive supporting notes and bibliography.
For me, what takes this book strongly into the 5 star realm is the detailed accounts revealing how the music was made.
Best case, you own the 17 CD RCA Albums collections (I don't) , worst case you hear the music on youtube & your personal collection (I did)
As I read the stories describing how the various albums came together, and a detail was mentioned about a specific track, vocal, technique, or instrument. I put the book down, and listened to the track on my phone via youtube or itunes. Songs that I have heard many times before surprised me with new life as I listened with new intent.
Most notably, this technique of keeping the music at my fingertips paid off when the book lays praise on Nilsson's voice. Cue up the song in question and realize, wow, he really was as good as all the recent press keeps saying he is/was. ( Examples "Perfect Day" or "All I think About Is You" )
An emotional read, recommended for anyone with the slightest interest in music, or biographies. Essential read for even the most casual fan of Harry Nilsson.
Sadly, Harry's name will forever be tarnished by his Rock-n-Roll lifestyle which very nearly ended his career. While it cannot be overlooked as part of his legacy, rarely does one ever hear of the good things Harry accomplished. Or how in his own way he beat the odds rather than going the way Dennis Wilson, Jimi Hendrix, Janis, and countless others. Shipton gives Harry the respect he deserves by focusing heavily on Harry's work. Very detailed I might add. I think Harry would have been happy to have been remembered by another musician, (Shipton is an accomplished musician and professor).
Yet the book is not a dry read. Harry made sure that when he was remembered, it wouldn't be boring. There's plenty of anecdotes and tales of the ups and downs as Shipton traces Harry's from his horrid childhood to his rise to stardom to his his falls, and his many, many resurrections. If I have one critique of this work it's that we don't get a deeper glimpse into the man's character itself. But then again, maybe Harry wanted it that way. If you're an old Nilsson fan, or a new inductee I would recommend getting the book. And Harry, thanks for all the music, and the laughs along the way. R.I.P.
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of his recordings is here, if that's what you are looking for.Read more