…it’s the loneliest number since the number one

Glad beginnings abound…as do sad endings from time to time.  Take Harry Edward Nilsson, a fine songwriter with a splendid singing voice (for which he won two Grammy Awards), who had achieved great peaks in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, without ever going on tour or performing in a major concert for that matter.

In 1968, while the Beatles were forming Apple Records, John Lennon was asked who his favorite American artist was and he replied “Nilsson” The press then turned to Paul McCartney and asked the same question.  His response was…“Nilsson.”

Leap forward to 1973; Harry Nilsson was living in Southern California and Lennon, who had recently separated from Yoko Ono, happened to bump into him at a club.  Before long the two were inseparable, with Lennon fully committed to producing Nilsson’s next album. Unfortunately, theirs was a time of excessive drinking and drugging in a very public way, including heckling at (and being thrown out of) others’ performances, trashing of guestrooms and near misses with bottles thrown from upper level hotel windows.

Even worse, Nilsson ruptured a vocal cord while recording the album that Lennon was producing for him (the woeful “Pussy Cats”).  It was only the fact that Lennon accompanied his pal to the record company negotiations and made an (unfulfilled) intimation that he and Ringo Starr might wish to sign with RCA after their Apple Record contracts expired, that they agreed to re-sign Nilsson and release the album.

By the onset of the 1980s Harry Nilsson’s best years were behind him.  Then he fell into dire straits after his financial advisor had embezzled all the funds he had ever made as a recording artist, leaving him and his family in serious debt (while the financial advisor served less than two years in prison without having to make restitution).

By the onset of the 1990s his entire career was behind him, with a final public singing appearance made at Caesar’s Palace in 1992.  That’s when Nilsson joined Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band to sing “Without You” and Todd Rundgren handled the high notes. The following year Harry Nilsson survived a massive heart attack (at the age of 52) and began to press RCA, his old label, to release a boxed-set retrospective of his career while attempting to record another album…which was never completed as he died at his home in early 1994.

Take heart, you who have made it this far, because that’s not the story’s end.  In 1995, a tribute album, “For the Love of Harry” was released consisting of popular artists singing many of Nilsson’s songs, including today’s selection sung by Richmond, Virginia native, Aimee Mann.

First made famous by Three Dog Night in 1969 (their cover reached Number 5 on the Billboard Chart), the song was first included on Nilsson’s third album in 1968, “Aerial Ballet”“One” was written after Nilsson had called someone on the phone and got a busy signal.  The “beep, beep, beep, beep…” tone became the opening notes to his song.

LISTEN TO TODAY’S SELECTION – Monday 14 May

One

One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do

Two can be as bad as one

It’s the loneliest number since the number one

No is the saddest experience you’ll ever know

Yes it’s the saddest experience you’ll ever know

Because one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do

One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever know

It’s just no good anymore since you went away

Now I spend my time

Just making rhymes of yesterday

Because one is the loneliest number

That you’ll ever do

One is the loneliest number

That you’ll ever know

One is the loneliest number

One is the loneliest number

One is the loneliest number

That you’ll ever do

One is the loneliest number

Much, much worse than two

One is the number divided by two

One………..

One is the loneliest number

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