Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Listen to YOU CAN'T DO THAT by Harry Nilsson.

I don't know that this song by Harry Nilsson--I think "ingenious" or maybe "clever" describes it better, but it's certainly one of the more unusual Beatles covers. As you'll hear, Nilsson is nominally covering You Can't Do That off "A Hard Day's Night," but it's really a bunch of quotations from a couple dozen (well, twenty-two) Beatles songs. Ingenious. Nilsson had a knack for this--he did the same trick on the "Skidoo" soundtrack, where he sang the names of the ENTIRE cast and crew in less than four minutes.

Supposedly when John Lennon heard "Pandemonium Shadow Show" (where You Can't Do That appears), he listened to it for 36 hours straight. And lots of people have heard about the 1968 press conference where John named "Nilsson" as the group's favorite singer (and Paul, for good measure, named "Nilsson" as their favorite group). Less known is that John and Paul later followed up with separate out-of-the-blue, middle-of-the-night phone calls proclaiming their admiration. Can you imagine?

Photo: Uptown (2).



Corbett said...

This song reminds me why I can't go too crazy for Nilsson. It's clever and incredibly annoying all at the same time. He sure did a lot of novelty and jokey crap...

bill said...

Yeah, clever is sometimes a euphemism for annoying. i think his jokey stuff from coexists comfortably for me alongside his great stuff, much like with Paul's solo career