The last known recording of Lennon & McCartney: ‘A Toot and a Snore in ‘74’

 

“You wanna snort, Steve? A toot? It’s goin’ round.”

With the recent reunion of Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney on the Grammy Awards, I was reminded of A Toot and a Snore in ‘74 a bootleg album of the sole recording session that John Lennon and Paul McCartney participated in after the break-up of The Beatles.

Lennon, who was in his “lost weekend” phase of drinking and drugging—and living with May Pang in Los Angeles—was producing Harry Nilsson’s Pussy Cats album at Burbank Studios. On the first night of the sessions, March 28, 1974, Paul and Linda McCartney showed up. Also present were Stevie Wonder, Harry Nilsson, Jesse Ed Davis, May Pang, saxophonist Bobby Keys and record producer Ed Freeman (who had been working with Don McLean in the next door studio).

There was a bit of a “convivial” scene going on, as one might gather from the bootleg’s title. McCartney later remarked that the “session was hazy… for a number of reasons.”

In his 2006 biography, McCartney, Christopher Sandford described the situation:

“The room froze when McCartney walked in, and remained perfectly silent until Lennon said, ‘Valiant Paul McCartney, I presume?’ McCartney responded: ‘Sir Jasper Lennon, I presume?’ (Valiant Paul and Sir Jasper were characters played by the two, in a televised Christmas play early in the Beatles’s career). McCartney extended a hand, Lennon shook it, and the mood was pleasant but subdued, cordial but not especially warm, at least initially.”

May Pang’s 1983 book, Loving John offered more detail:

Our first session was scheduled for the day after we moved in and it went beautifully- so beautifully that it only took four hours to lay down the basic rhythm track and vocal to “Subterranean Homesick Blues”.  When the tracks were finished, the musicians did not want to go home, so they hung out, jamming with each other or practicing their own licks. At midnight, however Keith [Moon] and Ringo left. It was time for them to hit the town.

The jam continued for another half hour, then visitors arrived. The visitors were Paul and Linda McCartney.

Paul headed straight for John. “Hello John,” he said eagerly.

John however was a study in casualness.

“How are you Paul?” he replied softly.

“Fine, how about you?”

“Okay.”

“Hi duckie,” Linda said to John, kissing him on the cheek.

“Hello Linda.”

John and Paul made small talk as if they had been speaking on the phone two or three times a day and had spoken a few hours earlier. It was one of the most casual conversations I had ever heard. They couldn’t be the two men who not only had been trading vicious attacks with each other in public but also had squadrons of lawyers poised in battle against each other while they carved up their multimillion-dollar empire. They looked like any old pair of friends having a pleasant low-key reunion.

The small talk continued; then Paul, like a man possessed, suddenly bounced up and headed straight for Ringo’s drum kit and began to bash the drums.

“Let’s play!” he exclaimed. Linda immediately headed for the organ. “Let’s play.” She echoed. They couldn’t be stopped.

John strapped on his guitar and began to play “Midnight Special,” one of the numbers the Beatles used to jam on when they first began to record together. So did Jesse Ed Davis and Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar, while Harry sang along.

Then we had another visitor, Stevie Wonder, who was also recording at the Record Plant.

“Stevie, Paul is here, and we’re going to jam,” John called out.

“Okay,” said Stevie. He went to the electric piano.

“Let’s record it,” said John.

“Yeah,” Paul agreed. John suddenly became very enthusiastic.

“We need a bass player,” he told the startled producer in the control booth of the studio next to ours. “Paul and I are jammin’ together.”

“I play bass!” the producer exclaimed. He dashed from his session to join ours.

“Fung Yee, I want you to play,” John told me. “Grab a tambourine.” I got up and joined the musicians

“Let it rip,” said John

That was the first time John and Paul had played together since Abbey Road in 1969, and it sounded wonderful. The team of Lennon and McCartney had been reunited with amazing ease. After they’d run down the song, John turned to Paul and said “Could you please tell your organist [Linda] to turn down the volume? I can’t hear Mr. Wonder”

John and Paul played it again, and it sounded even better. They made joyous music together that night. That was the only time John and Paul backed by Stevie Wonder and Harry Nilsson played together after the break- up.

I’m supposing that May Pang wrote the above from memory, because what’s on the actual tapes is not quite the stellar music a line-up such as this one might be expected to produce: It’s basically just a drunk, coked-up jam session, yet still a drunk, coked-up jam session of great historical significance.

You can read a transcript at Bootleg Zone. To be perfectly honest, it’s easier than listening to it!
 

 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Harry Nilsson performing ‘Don’t Leave Me’ on French TV
01.17.2013
02:02 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Harry Nilsson


 
There’s so precious little TV footage of Harry Nilsson in his prime—Nilsson famously hated touring, performing live or doing much promotion of any sort for such a major artist—that when something “new” gets uncovered, it’s a rare treat indeed. That it’s one of my top favorite Nilsson songs is so much the better.

Below, Nilsson lip-syncs “Don’t Leave Me,” from his 1968 Aerial Ballet album, on French television.
 

 
Bonus: A promotional film for “Everybody’s Talking” shot in Sweden:
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?

Another couple of golden clips from the Fort Knox of music video rarities that is Spike Priggen’s Bedazzled blog.

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Phil Spector, Nilsson & Cher: A Love Like Yours (Don’t Come Knocking Every Day)
09.23.2010
12:07 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Cher
Phil Spector
Harry Nilsson

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We’ve had plenty of Cher-related novelties here on Dangerous Minds. And we’ve out share of Harry Nilsson and Phil Spector rarities as well. So why not go for a triple-header? Have a listen to what Harry called “Nilssonny & Cher,” produced by the monomaniacal Phil Spector. Recorded during downtime in the recording of John Lennon’s Rock ‘n Roll album, this is one of those “lost” records that came out for a very short time before disappearing completely, but that is now as easy to hear as pressing play below…
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘Who is Harry Nilsson?’ documentary opening in Los Angeles this weekend
09.16.2010
06:23 pm

Topics:
History
Movies
Music

Tags:
Harry Nilsson
John Schienfeld

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This Friday, September 17th, John Schienfeld’s terrific new documentary, Who is Harry Nilsson? (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) opens in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Sunset 5 for week (and maybe longer). The reviews have been stellar—and in my opinion, justly deserved—for this heartfelt and moving tribute to the great singer-songwriter.

With Brian Wilson, Jimmy Webb, Van Dyke Parks, Yoko Ono, Paul Williams, Mickey Dolenz, The Smothers Brothers, and Pythons Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle,
 

 
Above, a BBC In Concert appearance from from Harry Nilsson. Nilsson famously hated performing live and on television, but this 30 minute performance is remarkable, indeed. More from the For the Love of Harry blog:

Harry Nilsson’s finest hour on film. Taped for England’s BBC in 1971, this simple and effective set of performances has everything one could ask for when seeing the rarely seen Nilsson live - solo piano & acoustic renditions, tasteful effects, plenty of close ups, unreleased music and even live overdubbing (both audio & video). Special thanks to our friend Patrick from Germany who supplied us with this excellent - now complete - 34 minute video. This live studio performance finds Harry delivering slower, more moving renditions of some of his best work up to 1971. His somber reading of “Life Line” is simply heartbreaking. Harry performs as a live trio with himself on “Walk Right Back” and “Coconut,” where he uses lip syncing gorillas for visuals. The Citizen Kane rafters clip ending is priceless. Harry introduces two videos from The Point! (“Think About Your Troubles” and “Are You Sleeping”). There just isn’t a better, more visually pleasing representation of Harry Nilsson at work. Download the .avi video file HERE. If you want MP3s of the show (minus the two Point! audio/video files), you can get them HERE.

Songs: Mr. Richland’s Favorite Song/One, Gotta Get Up, Walk Right Back/Cathy’s Clown/Let The Good Times Roll. Life Line; Joy, Without Her. Coconut. 1941

You can watch my interview with director John Schienfeld, here.

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Who Is Harry Nilsson (and Why Is Everbody Talkin’ About Him?)
09.08.2010
07:04 pm

Topics:
Heroes
History
Movies
Music

Tags:
Harry Nilsson
John Scheinfeld

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A conversation with director John Scheinfeld about his superb documentary, Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?).

If you’re under 45-years of age, you might have little idea of who the great singer/songwriter/hellraiser Harry Nilsson was, but surely almost everyone has heard his biggest hits “Everybody’s Talkin’” (from the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack), “Without You” (a Badfinger cover given its devastating emotional impact by Harry’s plaintiff three octave vocal range, later recorded by Mariah Carey) and “Coconut” which was used in dozens of movies (normally during a drinking scene) and in more than one 7UP advertising campaign.

Harry Nilsson was also responsible for co-creating the much-loved children’s TV movie, The Point, a Ringo Starr-narrated fable about a boy named Oblio, born with a round head in a land of pointy-headed people. (”Me and My Arrow” and “Are You Sleeping” are two of the best remembered songs from the project. Scratch someone in their 40s and trust me, they’ll be able to sing both from childhood memories of The Point)

Another important thing to know about Harry Nilsson is that he was the favorite American musician of both John Lennon and Paul McCartney, no small achievement, that! After Apple Corps press officer Derek Taylor heard Nilsson’s autobiographical “1941” (from his 1967 RCA debut Pandemonium Shadow Show) siting in the car waiting for his wife, he bought a box of the album and gave it away as presents, including to all four Beatles. The story goes that Lennon listened to the album for 36 straight hours before calling Nilsson in Los Angeles and telling him how much he loved his record. McCartney did the same soon after. Nilsson became a part of the Beatles inner circle, becoming close friends with both John (who would produce his 1974 Pussy Cats album) and Ringo (who was the best man at Nilsson’s second wedding).

The documentary features stellar interviewees such as Brian Wilson, Jimmy Webb, Van Dyke Parks, Yoko Ono, Paul Williams, Mickey Dolenz, Ringo Starr, The Smothers Brothers, and Pythons Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle,
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Harry Nilsson’s ‘Best Friend’: The theme song to ‘The Courtship of Eddie’s Father’
08.22.2010
07:25 pm

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Harry Nilsson

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In an effort to further answer the question posed in the title of a recent post, Who is Harry Nilsson… (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?), here is another reason: He wrote and performed, “Best Friend,” the memorable theme tune for The Courtship of Eddie’s Father TV series starring Bill Bixby, something that is not generally known.

But here’s a kicker: the original lyrics to the most iconic father and son bonding song this side of Cat Stevens, were about a woman! That’s right, “Girlfriend,” as the song was originally known, was an outtake from his Aerial Ballet album.

Nilsson never released the show’s theme on record, but “Girlfriend” was released on the posthumous,  Personal Best anthology, released in 1995.
 

 
After the jump, hear the original song, “Girlfriend.”

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Who Is Harry Nilsson… (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?)

image
 
A conversation with director John Scheinfeld about his superb documentary, Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?).

If you’re under 45-years of age, you might have little idea of who the great singer/songwriter/hellraiser Harry Nilsson was, but surely almost everyone has heard his biggest hits “Everybody’s Talkin’” (from the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack), “Without You” (a Badfinger cover given its devastating emotional impact by Harry’s plaintiff three octave vocal range, later recorded by Mariah Carey) and “Coconut” which was used in dozens of movies (normally during a drinking scene) and in more than one 7UP advertising campaign.

Harry Nilsson was also responsible for co-creating the much-loved children’s TV movie, The Point, a Ringo Starr-narrated fable about a boy named Oblio, born with a round head in a land of pointy-headed people. (”Me and My Arrow” and “Are You Sleeping” are two of the best remembered songs from the project. Scratch someone in their 40s and trust me, they’ll be able to sing both from childhood memories of The Point)

Another important thing to know about Harry Nilsson is that he was the favorite American musician of both John Lennon and Paul McCartney, no small achievement, that! After Apple Corps press officer Derek Taylor heard Nilsson’s autobiographical “1941” (from his 1967 RCA debut Pandemonium Shadow Show) siting in the car waiting for his wife, he bought a box of the album and gave it away as presents, including to all four Beatles. The story goes that Lennon listened to the album for 36 straight hours before calling Nilsson in Los Angeles and telling him how much he loved his record. McCartney did the same soon after. Nilsson became a part of the Beatles inner circle, becoming close friends with both John (who would produce his 1974 Pussy Cats album) and Ringo (who was the best man at Nilsson’s second wedding).

Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) features stellar interviewees such as Brian Wilson, Jimmy Webb, Van Dyke Parks, Yoko Ono, Paul Williams, Mickey Dolenz, Ringo Starr, The Smothers Brothers, and Pythons Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Son of Dracula: Harry Nilsson and Ringo Starr’s Comedy Horror Rock Opera

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I had the soundtrack album to Son of Dracula when I was a kid—you could buy it for 99 cents in any cut out bin in America in the late 70s—and although I didn’t really like the music that much, it featured impressive album cover art that opened out from under Harry Nilsson’s cape (see below). It just stayed in my record collection, unlistened to, but still pretty cool. It’s not like the film ever achieved “legendary lost film” status in my eyes, but when I saw a VHS bootleg for sale one day at the Pasadena Flea Market (there was a huge section of the market devoted solely to rock memorabilia and bootlegs of every stripe back in 90s) I scooped it up.

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Hmmmm… It’s not like I can stand here before you and tell you it’s great—because it’s definitely not—but do take Ringo Starr’s comments on Son of Dracula as the gospel truth:  “It is not the best film ever made, but I’ve seen worse.” He ought to know, he co-produced this turkey. )He’s also being a bit cagey with that statement because he’s mum on exactly how many worse films he’s seen? One other? Dozens? I’d guess it’s a number Ringo counts on just one hand…).
 
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Featuring hard-partying musician Harry Nilsson as “Count Downe” a vampire rock musician who is about to be crowned Overlord of the Netherworld when he falls in love with a mortal and has a change of heart, and Ringo as—who else—Merlin the Magician. Son of Dracula contains celebrity cameos from Nilsson’s hard-partying rocker mates Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham and Keith Moon (see a pattern forming here already?) and a band that included Peter Frampton, Klaus Voorman and Leon Russell.

It used to be that this film was impossible to see, but now, thanks to the wonderful innovation that is YouTube, you can have it in your very home—the entire film—from right where you are sitting now…

 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion