Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Faves From 'For the Love of Harry'

If, like me, you're a fan of the late great Harry Nilsson, you may have picked up this 1995 tribute album, 'For the Love of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson.' There are some real keepers here. Probably the best-known cover is "One," with lead vocals by Aimee Mann, and all instruments, as well as production, by Jon Brion. The all-star lineup is topped off with backing vocals by Chris Difford of Squeeze and Neil Innes of the Rutles. About four years later, the song appeared on the mostly Mann (and Academy Award-nominated) 'Magnolia' soundtrack. That record is still available. So, I'll skip this song and give you a listen to the three artists that got me to pick up 'For the Love of Harry' in the first place. They were and still are among my all-time favorite performers.

In the summer of 1994, Brian Wilson took lead-vocal and piano duties on "This Could Be the Night." His good pal Andy Paley played just about everything else and helped Wilson produce it. This was still back when Wilson wasn't releasing much. So, this one-song sighting was a pretty big deal to me.

Marshall Crenshaw "acted alone" when he recorded "Don't Forget Me" at a little studio in Woodstock, N.Y., around May 1994. Unlike the quintessential Wilson sound on "This Could Be the Night," Crenshaw's take on "Don't Forget Me" sounds an awful lot like Nilsson himself.

"Good Old Desk" is, perhaps, my favorite Nilsson song, and I like knowing Ron Sexsmith must have a soft spot for it as well. Sexsmith was backed by legends (at least in my mind) Mitchell Froom and Jerry Scheff at, oddly enough, a different studio in Woodstock.

All proceeds from this album went to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, in Nilsson's memory. I'm sure they would still take your donation.

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
100 Maryland Ave., N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002-5625
(202) 544-7190

Brian Wilson - This Could Be the Night (mp3)
Marshall Crenshaw - Don't Forget Me (mp3)
Ron Sexsmith - Good Old Desk (mp3)

'For the Love of Harry' Tracklist
1. Remember (Randy Newman)
2. Turn on Your Radio (Marc Cohn)
3. One (Aimee Mann)
4. Coconut (Fred Schneider)
5. Joy (Joe Ely)
6. Lay Down Your Arms (Ringo Starr and Stevie Nicks)
7. Without Her (Beckley/Lamm/Wilson)
8. Jump Into The Fire (LaVern Baker)
9. The Moonbeam Song (Steve Forbert)
10. You're Breakin' My Heart (Peter Wolf and The Houseparty 5)
11. Mournin' Glory Story (Jennifer Trynin)
12. Salmon Falls (Al Kooper)
13. The Puppy Song (Victoria Williams)
14. Don't Forget Me (Marshall Crenshaw)
15. This Could Be The Night (Brian Wilson)
16. Think About Your Troubles (Jellyfish)
17. The Lottery Song (Bill Lloyd)
18. Good Old Desk (Ron Sexsmith)
19. Me and My Arrow (Adrian Belew)
20. I Guess The Lord Must Be in New York City (Richard Barone)
21. Spaceman (The Roches with Mark Johnson)
22. Don't Leave Me (John Cowan)
23. Lifeline (Jimmy Webb)

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