7 Songs You Didn’t Know Harry Nilsson Wrote For Other Artists

How Harry Nilsson started writing songs was quite accidental. When he couldn’t remember the melodies or lyrics of popular tunes he liked, he just started creating his own.

Born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York on June 15, 1941, and raised by his mother in New York City before later moving to California with his extended family as a teenager. Nilsson’s first dives into music came in the late 1950s when he immersed himself in singing, prompted by his uncle’s singing lessons, crooning along to songs by the Everly Brothers and Ray Charles. Invited by his uncle, who gave him singing lessons, to use his voice to earn money, Nilsson soon landed a job singing demos in 1962 and began to gain some success as a songwriter. -composer thereafter, writing songs for Little Richard very early on.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney were already fans of Nilsson’s work in the late 60s. Lennon even called Nilsson his favorite American artist, and when asked who his favorite songwriter was, McCartney simply replied “Nilsson “. When asked who his favorite band was, McCartney repeated “Nilsson”.

In 1968, Nilsson finally met members of The Beatles in London and was asked to write a song for one of their new Apple Records artists, Mary Hopkin. Nilsson would continue to work separately (and throw notorious party nights) with Lennon and Ringo Starr on some of their solo tracks over the next few years. Richard Perry, who produced Nilsson’s smash hit in 1971 Nilsson Schmilsson once called the artist “the single-handed American Beatles”.

Nilsson’s sixth album, Point!, in 1970 was accompanied by the animated film of the same name, directed by Fred Wolfwhich aired in early February 1971. Nilsson then composed the entire soundtrack for the 1980 hit Popeye.

Continue to release original music albums, even Nilsson sings Newman, a collection of songs written for him by Randy Newman – Nilsson already had an extensive catalog of collaborations by the late 1970s.

Releasing much of his own original music throughout his career, Nilsson has also handed out numerous lyrical pieces to other bands.

Here are seven songs Nilsson wrote for other artists from the early 1960s to 1980s.

1. “Here I sit”, The Ronettes (1963)
Written by Harry Nilsson and Phil Spector

In the early 1960s, Nilsson connected with Phil Spector and wrote three songs with him, including two for The Ronettes, including the 1963 ballad “Here I Sit” and “Paradise”, released in 1965. Both tracks were singles and none made the cut of the Ronettes’ 1964 debut (and the only album ever released by the girl group), Introducing the Fabulous Ronettes.

2. “It Could Be Night”, Modern Folk Quartet (1965-1966)
Written by Harry Nilsson and Phil Spector

In addition to writing songs with Phil Spector for The Ronettes, he also co-wrote “This Could Be the Night” for the Spector’s Modern Folk Quartet circa 1965 from 1966 (official date unknown). Using Spector’s marching beats and the denser orchestration of “Wall of Sound”, the song was a tribute to Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, with the lyrics exploring a couple overcoming their shyness or inhibitions with each other. .

3. “The History of Rock and Roll”, The Turtles (1968)
Written by Harry Nilsson

Nilsson wrote two songs for the Turtles’ fourth album, The Turtles present Battle of the Bands-the title track “Battle of the Bands”, which he co-wrote with the band’s bassist Chip Douglas, and “The Story of Rock and Roll”.

4. “The Puppy Song”, Mary Hopkin (1969)
Written by Harry Nilsson

“The Puppy Song” was written by Nilsson at the request of Paul McCartney for British singer Mary Hopkin’s debut album, Post card, which was also produced by McCartney. Hopkin was an 18-year-old singer whom McCartney had just signed to Apple Records from The Beatles. Nilsson later recorded the song himself on his fourth album, Harry, in 1969.

5. “Easy for Me”, Ringo Starr (1974)
Written by Harry Nilsson

After Ringo Starr’s very successful third solo album, ringo, the Beatles reunited with producer Richard Perry for Goodnight Vienna, featuring collaborations with Robbie Robertson, Billy Preston and Klaus Voormann, as well as Nilsson, who penned the tender piano ballad “Easy For Me.” First published by Starr on Good night Vienna, Nilsson later recorded the song on his 11th album Duit on Mon Dei (1975) album as “Easier For Me”.

For a promo video for another Good night Vienna track, “Only You (And You Alone)”, written for Starr by Buck Ram (Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller, Ike and Tina Turner), the Beatles and Nilsson mime the song atop the Capitol Records building.

6. “Old Dirt Road”, John Lennon (1974)
Written by Harry Nilsson and John Lennon

Later recorded by Nilsson for his 15th album, Flash Harry, in 1980, “Old Dirt Road” was originally written with John Lennon for the Beatles’ fifth solo album, Walls and bridgesreleased in 1974. (Lennon’s version also features Nilsson on harmony vocals.) Lennon will also produce Nilsson’s 10th album, pussy cats, in 1974. The title goes against the bad boy image that the two drinking buddies earned while partying at the Troubadour. Pussy Cats also features Ringo Starr on drums and was produced by Lennon during what he called his “Lost Weekend” period, when he had split from Yoko Ono and was in a relationship with May Pang.

7. “He Needs Me”, Shelly Duvall (1980)
Written by Harry Nilsson

Just one of the iconic pieces that wove the Robert Altman-led 1980 musical together Popeye, featuring Robin Williams as Popeye and Shelley Duval as Olive Oyl, the soundtrack was composed entirely by Nilsson with original songs except for I’m Popeye the Sailor Man”, composed by Sammy Lerner for the original cartoon by Max Fleischer, while working on his own album.FlashHarry. All of the songs, including Shelley Duvall’s Popeye nostalgia, “He Needs Me,” were sung live by the cast, leaving the official soundtrack versions a bit more produced.

(Photo by Stan Meagher/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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