Have you ever watched a moonbeam?

“Nilsson Schmilsson,” the wonderful Harry Nilsson album released 50 years ago yesterday, was not on the list of 10 all-time greatest albums I submitted to WXPN radio in Philadelphia for its consideration the other day.

If I had it to do over, I might add it to my list and leave off something certain to be on hundreds of other listeners’ lists.

Nilsson Schmilsson LP jacket, Harry Nilsson, 1971

XPN will be counting down the top 2,021 albums of all time as determined by the poll beginning at 6 a.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 2. That’s 5 a.m. my time …

“Early In The Morning”

“Nilsson Schmilsson” was one of the first few albums I ever owned. I was 14, maybe 15. Loved it then and have loved it ever since. As with all of my earliest LPs, every track and every side is seared into memory from having played them so often.

Side A has always struck me as a bit of a travelogue, starting with “Gotta Get Up” (which everyone now knows from “Russian Doll” on Netflix). It’s followed by “Driving Along” and “Early In The Morning.” You drive from early morning to late night, and then along comes …

“The Moonbeam Song”

This has long been my favorite cut on the record, leisurely reflections and gentle musings about watching the world passing by. Mostly acoustic, that’s Klaus Voormann and John Uribe on acoustic guitar, Herbie Flowers on bass and Nilsson himself on the wee bit of Mellotron.

The trip through Side A doesn’t end well, though, going …


Side B is less interesting, if only because most of its songs are so well known — “Without You,” “Coconut,” “Let The Good Times Roll” and “Jump Into The Fire.”

Listening to it again, I’m reminded that I often picked up the needle after the exciting “Jump Into The Fire” and passed on the last cut, “I’ll Never Leave You,” a slow, poignant love song lost on a kid who was 14, maybe 15.

All rips from my copy of “Nilsson Schmilsson,” which I’ve had for almost 50 years, since not all that long after it was released on Monday, Nov. 1, 1971.

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Filed under November 2021, Sounds

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