Harry Nilsson – Nilsson Sings Yoko

The other Nilsson projects I have put together recently were essentially records I would like to have seen released, but this one is a genuine lost album. After the release of ‘Knnillsson’ in 1977, Nilsson left RCA Records, his home for the previous decade. One further album called ‘Flash Harry’ was released in a few European countries as well as Japan, but this was a one off deal. It would also be his last studio album that Nilsson released before his death. This period was quite productive as he also produced the soundtrack album for the Robert Altman film, ‘Popeye’. He also worked on a couple of musicals. One about Mexican Revolutionary, Emiliano Zapata and the other was cartoon characters Blondie & Dagwood. 

Music was put to one side after the assassination of his friend John Lennon as Nilsson joined the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. He started making media appearances to raise funds for the organisation as well as recording the single ‘With a Bullet’. He even got on stage at Beatlefest events to do some live singing. By the mid 80s, Nilsson was starting to record more frequently, mostly on commissions for TV and Movies, but also tribute albums. One of these was ‘Every Man Has a Woman’, which was released in celebration of Yoko Ono’s 50th birthday. Nilsson had three songs on the album, but he seems that he was so happy with what he was doing, that he decided to record a whole albums worth. The National Times reported that the album would be released in 1985, but it never materialised. 

Unlike many lost albums, most of the songs were recorded but why wasn’t released has yet to come to light. Record companies might have been put off by Nilsson’s antics in the 1970s, or the fact that his last few albums had not been big sellers. The song ‘Loneliness’ was released as a single on Polydor and does not seem to have been a hit so the record company might not have wanted to follow up with a full album. Whatever the reasons, the songs have for the most part, stayed in the archives. Well, here is my reconstruction of what could have been if this album had sent he light of day in 1985. 

As three of the songs had already seen the light of day on ‘Every Man Has a Woman’, it would be nice to have alternative versions of those songs here. For two of them, this is possible, ‘Loneliness’ and ‘Dream Love’ both exist as extended versions. These two can be included but ‘Silver Horse’ does not, so that will have to stay the same. The song ‘Yang Yang’ was rehearsed but never finished. A quick bit of editing though has meant a sort of master take could be produced. 

At forty minutes, this would have been an optimal length for a vinyl album. A couple of alternative mixes have also been circulating. Most of Nilsson’s back catalogue has been rereleased with bonus tracks. If this album had had of come out and was to have received a CD reissue, these could have been used as bonus tracks. I have also included the versions of ‘Loneliness’ and ‘Dream Love’ from ‘Every Man Has A Woman’ for completeness. Will these tracks ever seen the light of day in an official capacity? Only time will tell. 

I found the album artwork on a message board, so whoever made this, thank you. It is an homage to the ‘Nilsson Sings Newman’ cover. It is shame that they did not called it ‘Nilsson Sings Ono’.

Side A

  1. Silver Horse
  2. Loneliness (Extended Edition)
  3. Listen, The Snow Is Falling
  4. Let The Tears Dry

Side B

  1. Yang Yang
  2. Smile
  3. Never Say Goodbye
  4. Toy Boat
  5. Dream Love (Extended Version)

CD Bonus Tracks

  1. Toy Boat (Alternative Take)
  2. Smile (Alternative Vocal)
  3. Never Say Goodbye (Alternative Mix)
  4. Listen, The Snow Is Falling (Different Mix)
  5. Loneliness (Every Man Has A Woman Version)
  6. Dream Love (Every Man Has A Woman Version)

6 Replies to “Harry Nilsson – Nilsson Sings Yoko”

  1. I was an assistant audio engineer ( at A&R recording studios) for this unreleased album as well as for Milk and Honey as well as the compilation album Every Man Loves a Woman. I strongly believe that Yoko Ono has not received the recognition that she deserves as a songwriter.

    1. I played guitar on a number of these tracks . What a treat to hear them again after all these years . Cheers Val

    2. I played guitar on a number of these tracks . What a treat to hear them again after all these years . I miss my pal Harry ,Cheers Val

  2. Amazing. Thank you! I think I heard something about Sean Lennon working on these for a release, but not sure if that’s still on the cards.

    Another interesting note is the song “Smile,” which is a bit mysterious. It has surfaced as part of these sessions before, but it has never been seen in any format except this Nilsson version. Supposedly, somebody actually asked Yoko about it and she had no knowledge of the song at all.

    It’s actually possible that “Smile” is an original Nilsson composition that was intentionally written in the Ono style. If that’s the case, I think it’s a good addition to the project, as well as being quite a nice little song.

    1. Cheers information about “Smile”. I just assumed that every song on this collection was an Ono original.

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