Aerial Ballet


Harry Nilsson is probably the most under-appreciated 60's/70's songwriter on earth. He was born as Harry Edward Nilsson III in 1941. His paternal grandparents were Swedish circus performers and dancers, especially known for their "aerial ballet". While his grandmother played piano, his grandfather Charlie supported the family in a tiny railroad apartment on Jefferson Avenue in Brooklyn. Because of the poor financial situation of his family, Nilsson worked from an early age, including a job at the Paramount Theatre in Los Angeles. He later worked on bank computers at night, and in the daytime pursued his songwriting and singing career.
In 1968 Harry Nilsson released his best album ever titled Aerial Ballet including the hit single "Everybody's Talkin'" which was used for the movie "Midnight Cowboy" starring Dustin Hoffman. The title of the album comes from the high-flying acrobatic circus act Nilsson's paternal grandparents performed. The title also inspired the band Aerosmith for their band name. Overall this album is about his family. "Little Cowboy" for example was written by his mother. His father abandoned his family when Harry was 3 years old but when he was around he always liked his dad and that's what we hear in the opening song. That woud be "Daddy's Song" that was removed by RCA Victor soon after the first copies of the album were released, because the Monkees covered the song for their film "Head" and paid money for the exclusive rights on the song. On CD issues that song is restored in place since the contract with the Monkees was already expired.
Alternative LP cover
“Good Old Desk” is about his favourite working place where he writes his songs. “Mr. Richland’s Favorite Song” referrs to Tony Richland, Nilsson’s record promoter and talks about his view on fame. “Mr. Tinker” follows a modest tailor who has been put out of business by the commercial clothing industry. Songs are about the past, present and loneliness. "One" is definitely the loneliest number that you'll ever do. You probably know "One" from countless cover versions (Three Dog Night's is probably the most famous). "I Say Goodbye To Me" about suicide.
Nilsson, McCartney and Lennon
He became friends with the Beatles in the late 60's and he was Ringo's best man and John Lennon's drinking buddy. Randy Newman was a fan of Harry and Harry also of Randy. That's why Harry released also an album with songs from Randy Newman later in his career together with Randy.
Aerial Pandemonium Ballet album cover
In 1971 Nilsson remixed "Aerial Ballet" with his previous album "Pandemonium Shadow Show" into "Aerial Pandemonium Ballet". The album was one of the first remix albums ever and allowed Nilsson to revisit his early material after reaching a wider audience.
Original album cover
Aerial Ballet
Daddy’s Song / Good Old Desk / Don’t Leave Me / Mr. Richland’s Favorite Song / Little Cowboy /
Together / Everybody’s Talkin’ / I Said Goodbye To Me / Little Cowboy / Mr. Tinker / One / The Wailing Of The Willow / Bath

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