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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Harry Nilsson breaks Mormon Television

Commenter extraordinaire (does that sound French) WhatTheH posted the following in the second soundtrack playlist thread:

Way back, in the dark ages of my youth, Harry Neilsen penned a song titled "I Guess the Lord must be in New York City". It was for a little film Called "Midnight Cowboy" released back in 69. While the producers were impressed with Harry's song, they settled on another song, and insisted that Harry sing it for the soundtrack - "Everybody's talking at me".

I love both songs, but Harry's is ...I don't know, more sympatico for me.

She (if I remember correctly) went onto say she owned all of Nilsson's albums and still played them on an old turntable. I wasn't quite as big a fan of Harry's but my 8-track player ate more than a couple Son of Schmilsson tapes. One of my favorite songs on that album was Your Breaking My Heart, a song which I'm ashamed to admit was dedicated to me by my first love, Korinne (I wonder what she's doing now days--if she's reading this, "I'm sorry, baby, but Christ I was only 17 and it was a big mistake."

Anyway, that song played a role in one of the funniest things I ever saw on Mormon TV.

Sometime in the late Seventies early Eighties (that period of my life is a big blur) Harry Nilsson came to Salt Lake City to buy a television station. The people at the Mormon-Church-owned KSL-TV heard about it and booked him on the in-house-produced soft news/chat show they used to fill the slot between the local news and network prime time.

Nilsson was plastered, drunk on his ass. He could hardly stand. The anchor, a Mormon's Mormon named Bruce Lindsey, was excited to have him on--Nilsson was about as close to a celebrity not named Osmond that SLC could draw in those days.

After a rather funny exchange about what Nilsson was doing in town; "I'm looking to buy a TV station...This one looks ok...Sell it to me... I want to buy your station... are you going to sell it or not...don't give me none of your guff, get someone in here who can make the deal;" Lindsey asked him about how he felt about the success of Everybody's Talkin' About Me from Midnight Cowboy. Nilsson replied that he was disappointed that his favorite song wasn't just as successful. As best as I can recall this is how the interview went from there:

Lindsey: What song is that?

Nilsson: It's called "You're Breaking My Heart." Do you know it.

Lindsey: I'm sorry. I don't think I do.

Nilsson: You want to hear a piece of it?

Lindsey (obviously thrilled that Nilsson is going to perform): Yes, please

Nilsson (drunkenly singing): You're breaking my heart. You're tearing it apart, so fuck you. All I want [KSL goes suddenly black for about 45 seconds before a commercial comes on].

Here's the song for those who aren't familiar with it:

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