Song of the Day: Harry Nilson- I’d Rather Be Dead

I recently saw a documentary on Schmilsson, who enjoyed a long career as a critically acclaimed songwriter before succumbing to drug and alcohol addiction and, ultimately, complete self-annihilation. But until then, Nilsson was an incredibly gifted singer/songwriter, with the voice of an angel and humor-laden, biting wit matched only by John Lennon, who’s friendship turned out to be responsible for the destruction of Nilson’s vocal cords.

Hearing about Nilsson brought me back to high school, where I first encountered the singer in a creative writing class. My teacher at the time had us listen to The Point, Nilsson’s children’s album and subsequent cartoon. I thought it was genius back then and I appreciate it even more now, if not for the pure audacity of a well known musician deciding to do a children’s album out of nowhere. Pointless trivia: The title track from The Point was sampled in Blackilicious’ incredible album Blazing Arrow (check out both).

So this clip is taken from an unreleased Nilsson documentary entitled Did Someone Drop His Mouse. In the clip, Nilson coaches a group of elderly Englishpeople to sing along with him as he sings “I’d Rather Be Dead.” The facial expressions on some of these are amazing, as there’s no way they could get something so perfect if it were scripted. The humor predates Tim and Eric and other types of comedy that revolve around naturally awkward people in genuine situations.

Skip to the 5 1/2 minute mark if you want to go right to the song.


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