Everybody’s ranting

Everybody’s talking at me

I don’t hear a word they’re saying

Only the echoes of my mind

Ain’t that the truth … for America these days? Everyone’s ranting, and no one listens anymore; it’s just all noise tuned out in favor of the broken tape loops echoing around and around again in our own minds.

No one listens anymore. Everyone has a loud opinion. And the balance of power in our times is who, by virtue of some glint of power or authority, you HAVE to listen to. Because otherwise you just wouldn’t. Sad.

But not as sad as the story of Harry Nilsson; best mate of forehead tampon hanger John Lennon and Ringo Starr, possessor of one of the most angelic male voices of the last few decades, and self-destructive burnout deceased at 53.

Who is Harry Nilsson (and Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) is a documentary that ran the festival circuit and is finally available on DVD. It’s not great because of innovative editing or directing. It”s awesome by virtue of the subject.

The DVD has more than 15 additional scenes left off the documentary that are as good as anything ON the documentary. That’s how you know the subject exceeds the creative powers of the people trying to interpret it. Just lay it all out there and let everyone put their own cumulative story together from the pieces.

It’s a simple story: Kid born in Brooklyn, tragically loses dad early, leaves home at 15, heads West, finds fame and fortune, but can’t escape that missing pillar of early self-esteem, and collapses to oblivion. But, oh God, what a magical voice.

There’s a lot of talk, from famed producer Richard Perry, Monkee Mickey Dolenz, Yoko Ono, Jimmy Webb, Van Dyke Parks, the Smothers Brothers, and other music luminaries about what a great and melodic songwriter he was. But let’s face it, the two greatest songs he’s known for; “Everybody’s Talkin’” from the movie Midnight Cowboy, and that haunting anthem, “Without You,” were both written by other songwriters. No matter. Celebrate the intricate delicate precise crystal clear powerful gentle miracle that is his voice.

It’s a crying shame all the tower of Babel ranters who have overtaken our society, cyberspace and airwaves don’t have such a voice.

Otherwise we might be more inclined to listen.

A. Wayne Carter

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