Song Of The Day 2/26/2016: Harry Nilsson – “The Cast and Crew (Skidoo)”

Next Best Original Songs – Skidoo remains the only feature-length movie I've watched in its entirety on YouTube. It is not a good film, but it was directed by Otto Preminger, who made a few good ones (The Man With the Golden Arm and Anatomy of a Murder come to mind). It was also the last film appearance of Groucho Marx, playing the character "God." Neither Marx nor God had many good things to say about Skidoo either. The premise must have been irresistible in 1968: Throw old-school comedians in a blender with hippie drug culture and see if something comical arises from the generational incongruity. They try, I guess. Jackie Gleason does his best to simulate a guy on an acid trip. But I'm sure I don't have to tell you that employing nonsense to elicit some grander truth only works when someone like Jonathan Swift, Voltaire, Terry Southern or a social media manager is doing it. Any hardcore defenders with Skidoo T-shirts are welcome to formulate a response.

Harry Nilsson did the song score for Skidoo and also played a tower guard (above, right). He used the occasion to write one of his prettiest ballads, "I Will Take You There." Also in his PeeChee folder was the nagging theme song, sung in the film by native Seattleite Carol Channing. I'm not going to link you to that one because it's a particularly vicious earworm with an insidious hook and no clear genre. Nilsson however being Nilsson, he did something brilliant for Skidoo I'm not sure the movie deserved: He wrote music for and sang the entire list of closing credits. It's a crowning achievement of diction, speed and metrics that should have gotten an Oscar nod for labor alone.


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