- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter Paperback – 29 Oct 2015
|New from||Used from|
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
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." -Houston Press
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." -Goldmine Magazine
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
From the Inside Flap
aul McCartney and John Lennon described him as the Beatles' "favorite group," and yet no figure in popular music is as much of a paradox as Harry Nilsson. A major celebrity at a time when stadium rock was in its infancy and huge concerts and festivals were becoming the norm, Nilsson's instrument was the studio, his stage the dubbing booth, his greatest technical triumphs were masterful examples of studio craft, and he studiously avoided live performance. He was a gifted composer of songs for a wide variety of performers, having created vivid flights of imagination for the Ronettes, the Yardbirds and the Monkees, yet Nilsson's own biggest hits were almost all written, ironically, by other composers and lyricists. He won two Grammies, had two top ten singles, and numerous album successes. Once described by his producer Richard Perry as "the finest white male singer on the planet," near the end of his life, his career was marked by voice-damaging substance abuse and the infamous deaths of both Keith Moon and Mama Cass in his London flat. His music remains prevalent today, through the 1995 tribute album For the Love of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson (featuring performances of Nilsson's hits by Ringo Starr, Stevie Nicks, Fred Schneider and others) and recent covers, such as Aimee Mann's recording of "One" (popularized as the main track on the Magnolia soundtrack) and Neko Case's arrangement of "Don't Forget Me" on her album, Middle Cyclone.
In this first ever full-length biography of Nilsson, author Alyn Shipton traces Nilsson's life from his Brooklyn childhood to his Los Angeles adolescence, and charts his gradual move into the spotlight as a talented songwriter. With interviews from Nilsson's friends, family and associates, and material drawn from an unfinished draft autobiography Nilsson was writing prior to his death, Shipton probes beneath the enigma and the paradox to discover the real Harry Nilsson, and thereby reveals one of the most creative talents in 20th century popular music. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Mr. Shipton's book has a couple of really strong points:
First, he had access to the Nilsson family and the Nilsson Estate, and in particular to the unfinished autobiography Nilsson was composing, both in form of recorded tapes (the "oral" autobiography) and written drafts (the "draft" autobiography)
So there's quite a deal of fresh input. By the way, the quoted parts of Nilsson's draft autobiography are extremely well written and full of humour... too bad he didn't have the chance to complete it...
Second, Mr. Shipton is a musician himself - unlike so many "music critics" who couldn't tell a major chord from a minor one if their lives depended on it - and therefore his primary focus is always the music (the songwriting and recording process, the production choices) rather than the personal/sordid/gossipy bits. Which are there, of course, it's "hell raiser" Nilsson we're talking about after all. But the spotlight is always on the artist and on his music first.
To be perfectly fair, it must also be said that Shipton draws, I mean, A LOT, from director John Scheinfeld & LSL Productions' documentary film "Who is Harry Nilsson? (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)". This film is truly a must-see for any Nilsson fan, a 5-star treasure trove of interviews and archive material, currently available as a Region-free DVD which adds about 90' of bonus material, making it about 3 hours of material. I really advice any Nilsson fan to give it a look.
Shipton's book is also (very slightly) marred by a few minor omissions (Nilsson's 1968 BBC session for "Saturday Club with Brian Matthew" goes totally indiscussed, only passingly mentioned in a quote from Nilsson's then wife: and yet it's the rarest of the events, being one of the the very few occasions Nilsson performed [and recorded] live in public); and there is the odd disputable assertion ("In 1967 the Monkees were the closest thing America had to the Beatles" - well I don't know really... what about the Beach Boys?) and a bit of shaky judgement here and there (I honestly don't believe 1976's "...That's the Way It Is" to be better than the previous two records... and when discussing "Duit on Mon Dei", the author completely forgets "Puget Sound", the little gem of the album and the closest things to Nilsson's early stuff; and utterly fails to aknowledge the incredible duet with Gloria Jones on "What's Your Sign").
But all considered, a very fine book.
The only thing that really puzzles me is the cover picture. I've seen dozens of portraits of Nilsson, some of them funny, others witty, or moving, or all these things combined and then some... but the publishers decided to go with the most dull, insignificant, nondescript picture of Nilsson I've ever seen... Do these people know anything about marketing and advertising?
Don't they know that a good cover alone could consistently improve sales figures?...
This book traces some of the major events of his life, including:
* the early albums he released in the mid-to-late 60s, together with his songwriting stint for a certain manufactured TV group named The Monkees;
* the release of two singles - ironically both written by other songwriters - that brought him to worldwide attention; namely: 'Without You' (written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger) and 'Everybody's Talkin'' (Fred Neil);
* his relationship with super-talented producer Richard Perry who came to define his sound for a while;
* his involvement with soundtracks and musicals, including 'Skidoo' and the charming animated tale 'The Point'
* the major endorsement by the Beatles as Harry being their favourite American songwriter. He came to know John and Ringo from both a personal and
professional viewpoint: writing a song with John, 'Old Dirt Road', which later appeared on solo albums by both artists, while both he and Ringo regularly guested on each other's albums.
* regular nights out with his numerous celebrity drinking buddies including (during his time in London) Keith Moon, a couple of Pythons and various other luminaries both here and in the U.S. His alcoholism sadly contributed to his decline as a musician, and added to his health worries.
Inevitably, he failed to live up to the huge promise he demonstrated on his early albums, and he died aged only 53 in 1994.
The above are selected snapshots delineated in this fine biography. It's delivered in a refreshingly factual style that eschews any sensationalism.
A fine read.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews
Mr.Shipton gave very detailed information about the man and his music
Recommended it very much