It was on this day, November 9th 1969 that Simon and Garfunkel went into the studio and recorded what was to become their signature song. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” The recording featured Larry Knectel on Piano, with an assist from The Wrecking Crew. Art Garfunkle felt that Paul should sing the song. But Pual insisted that Art’s voice was better suited for the song, a decision Paul later admitted he regretted.
Upon it’s release in early January 1970, the recording shot to the number one position on The Billboard Chart, where it would stay for six weeks and sell over Six Million copies worldwide!
“Bridge Over Troubled Water would go on to win Five Grammy awards in 1971 including “Song of the year” and “Record of the year”…..
Let’s listen to their masterpiece and reflect on who we were, and where we were the first time we heard it…
Where were you?
Do you remember The Singing Nun? In 1963 she had a number one record with her song “Dominique” Her real name was Jeanine Deckers and she lived in a convent in Belgium. “Dominique”was not just a hit in the U.S. it was an international smash. Ms. Deckers toured the world, even appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. The Singing Nun made a small fortune from “Dominique” which she donated to the Catholic Church, only to find out that she owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes. Sadly, in 1985 The Singing Nun died pennyiless in a double suicide pact with her longtime lesbian lover from an overdose of alcohol and barbiturates….You can’t make this stuff up…. And perhaps you should listen..
Badfinger….(Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland and Mike Gibbons).the band “you didn’t know, you didn’t know”! Of course you loved their multiple hit singles. “Come and get it” No matter what” and “Day after day”….. But, didja know the strange and sad saga of this incredible English band whose connection to The Beatles is mythic?Hailing from Wales and originally known as The Iveys. They scored their first hit which you may recall “Maybe Tomorrow” ( yes you remember that one) With their tight three part harmonies, melodic guitar fills and natural ability to write simply great pop music They scored big in the U.K. As the band started getting attention in the U.S And the comparisons to The Beatles began. It doesn’t take long before Paul McCartney gets wind of The Iveys, just as Apple records opens for business. Paul and The Beatles decide that “The Iveys” (Badfinger) will be the first band to sign with Apple.
The Iveys are thrilled. McCartney intervenes, writing and producing their first single “Come and get it” This is where the tensions within the group and Paul McCartney began. Sides were being taken as to how this new record should sound. The band found themselves at odds with Paul McCartney ( not good dear reader) But McCartney prevailed and Badfinger recorded “Come and get it” literally note for note as Paul had done on his demo. “Come and get it becomes a world wide smash, is featured in the new Peter Sellars Movie “The Magic Christian” which also stars Ringo Starr! and the Badfinger/Beatle connection grows deeper,. Just prior to the release of “Come and get it” The band is encouraged to change their name from The Ivey’s to Badfinger. Pauls idea, “Badfinger” comes from the original working title to the song John and Paul wrote for Ringo….”With a little help from my friends” was originally called “Badfinger Boogie” The saga continues with their next hit, “No matter what” written by Badfingers Pete Ham, the record however was produced by long time Beatles road manager Mal Evans! Most of us remember Mal as the big burly “fifth Beatle” who protected the band, carried their equipment and insured that there were never to many or not enough girls for “The Lads” But in Badfinger/ Beatle land, Mal is the record producer?…Yup! Credit, however must go to the band and Mal because they delivered another Worldwide smash with “No matter what”…….The third and final international hit for Badfinger intensified the Beatle connection with George Harrison producing and playing lead guitar on “Day after day” George’s solo comes straight away from “All things must pass” and catapults Badfinger back on the world stage. Meanwhile, dear reader, see if any of the following sounds familiar. Badfinger struggles with their money, business, and management. They eventually sign up with an American manager of dubious background and practices. He causes a great division in the band resulting with internal lawsuits within the band and of course multiple lawsuits with the manager, record label and Music Publisher. Heard that one before? But wait! It gets deeper.
At the peak of their success and height of their internal struggles, one of the original band members Joey Molland meets a girl. He becomes consumed by her. She’s with Joey and the band constantly, rehearsals, recording sessions band meetings etc. eventually, she and Joey marry and it is suggested by Joey and the Mrs. That she manage the band! It’s rather “Uncanny” isn’t it?………However, amid the turmoil, in fighting and lawsuits Pete Ham and Tom Evans sit down and write what Paul McCartney called “The killer love song of all time”…..
“Without you” ( yes, that “Without you”) Badfinger recorded and released it on their 1970 album “No Dice”, but it received no support or interest from anyone including the band. Until a short time later. Harry Nilsson, in the middle of producing his album Nilsson Schmilsson, heard the song at a party and was told it was a new Beatle song (unbelievable ain’t it ? ) Straight away, Harry took the song into the studio with producer Richard Perry. In no time ” Without You” shot to number one in the U.S.A. and several other countries around the world, where it stayed for six weeks and sold just shy of 1,000,000 units! Giving Harry, Pete and Tom the biggest hit of their careers. To date over 180 artists have recorded “Without You” including Mariah Carey in 1994
Finally, The Saga and Story of Badfinger could be dismissed as “The usual trappings of a successful band. However what makes them unique is their unregognized abilitys and their resemblence, irony and close proximity to the biggest band in history. AND…..The final Grim chapter that history will write and read over and over. Something only unique to one band. Badfinger.
In 1975 after years of fights, lawsuits and financial problems Pete Ham( no question, the bands creative source) committed suicide by hanging himself in his home. Petes wife urgently called Pete’s band mate, friend and creative partner Tom Evans to rush over with help. Tom got to Pete’s side, but to late Tom only witnessed his dead friends body hanging lifeless!
Tom Evans went on struggling with all the same demons his friend Pete dealt with.., only without Pete and with the horrible vision he witnessed……..In 1983 Tom began muttering out loud, things like “I want to be with Pete”, and by the end of the year Tom was found dead in his home, DEAD, suicide by Hanging…..
Happier Times…”Come and get it”…..
We’ll get to the point dear reader, but first we want to talk about our favorite singer/songwriter from The 60’s Harry Nilsson!
Unassuming, soft spoken, timid, tremendously talented and criminally unrecognized. In our book, Harry goes down as arguably Thee greatest singer/ songwriter of the 1960’s and beyond. In fact, in Rolling Stones list of The 100 greatest songwriters of all time, Harry Nilsson weighed in at #64…OF ALL TIME! Our only disagreement with Rolling Stone is perhaps Harry should be number one! Consider this, in his initial year seriously writing songs in the mid sixties Harry’s songs were covered and he had hits with such diverse artists as The Yardbirds ( “Ten little Indians” ) The Monkees ( “Cuddly Toy” ) and of course a recording everyone adores, “One” by Three Dog Night. We should also mention that Harry also wrote and performed the theme to the hugely popular T.V. Program “The Courtship of Eddies Father” The Song was “Let me tell you ’bout my best friend” It’s all coming back now isn’t it ? Well, that’s one of The Points…
Meanwhile, The Beatles get wind of Harry. They go on to order boxes of Harry’s debut L.P. “Pandemonium Shadow Show and pass them on to all their friends. In separate interviews when John and Paul are individually asked “Who’s your favorite American artist? They both give the same answer…Harry Nilsson ! RCA ( Harry’s record label) proceeds to “Sticker” Harry second L.P. “Aerial Ballet” with a badge that say’s “John Lennon’s favorite Artist”…..unheard of at that time in the music biz! Harry and John became close friends with Harry aiding, abetting and partnering with John through his infamous “Lost Weekend” It was Harry who was with John during his legendary incident at The Troubador Club in L.A. Where a very drunk John and Harry were thrown out of the club after John got a little too aggressive with a waitress, providing the origin of one of rocks greatest quotes…
In addition to his drunkeness, John had tied a woman’s tampon to his head, and as the waitress ushered John and Harry to their feet, John says “Do you know who I am? And the waitress famously replies, “Yes, your some asshole with a Kotex on your head”……Never the less, the point is, The Point is Harry Nilssons most important and greatest record.
Here’s why: The Point was Harry’s 6th record, yet it delivered Harry’s one and only Top 10 single with “Me and my arrow” written by him. We know what your thinking, “What about “Everybody’s Talkin’ Nope, not written by Harry, it was written by folk singer Fred Neil, and what about the incredibly beautiful “Without You”? Nope it was written by the two principal members of the band Badfinger! The writers names were Pete Ham and Tom Evans ( see the “Do you want to know a secret” page for some gruesome details)
Harry’s life and music was rich with irony, with the most ironic element being his notoriety as a songwriter yet he didn’t write his classic iconic hits!
But there’s another point to “The Point” Harry was one of the first to harness the power of Television. The release of The Point L.P. Coincided with ABC airing Harry’s stunning feature length ANIMATED “Movie Of The Week” “The Point” conceived written and produced by Harry and featuring his friends Dustin Hoffman, Ringo Starr and Alan Thicke
Something wonderful happened the day after “The Point” enjoyed it’s debut airing on ABC. The world woke up to who Harry Nilsson was. The next day “The Point” and Harry were “The Water Cooler conversation”….I recall how my best friend said to me, “Hey Everybody’s Talkin ’bout Nilsson” To this day I’m not sure if he realized what he said, but it was the truth. The Brilliance of the animation was a stunning roller coaster of color and movement, juxtaposed to Harry’s unique blend of smooth, dream like melodies accompanied by his lyrics that tell the story and make The Point with his usual Wit, Wisdom, Irony and Innuendo. (Even the cover artwork was designed to replicate “Needle Point) which, is another point altogether! Perhaps, most importantly, The Point, In addition to the hit single “Me and my Arrow” includes our two favorite Nilsson songs “Are You Sleeping” and “Think About Your Troubles” We realize naming your favorite Nilsson songs is like naming your favorite child, but But those are our all time faves…
So, Here’s the point. You need to get The Point..
The Point is Innovative, ambitious, ahead of it’s time, beautiful to look at and musically The richest record you’ll find from a Songwriter in the 1960’s…
And, here’s our final point. If you haven’t seen The Point, you need to! ( yes, it’s available thru the usual channels)
If you don’t agree it’s Nilsson’s Magnum Opus, we want to hear why?
That’s the point!