Song Of The Day 3/19/2014: Harry Nilsson - "You're Breakin' My Heart"

Accidents of Adult Contemporary: This is one of the songs that I squeezed in on a technicality, like I said on Monday, and that's because it's hard to call Harry Nilsson (who is one of my fifteen or so favorite solo artists, ever) a real adult contemporary artist. He made beautiful songs that were much more in the style of baroque pop, folk-rock and music hall that never found a lot of success on American radio in his first few years. If his three biggest hits -- "Without You," "Coconut" and "Everybody's Talkin'" -- had not also been building blocks of soft-rock/AC radio in the early Seventies, I'd probably leave him off this list. And his work on Pussy Cats is pretty much 37 minutes of nothing but an open affront to his previous fan base, one of the least easy-listening albums ever made, really.

But when he put out the New Orleans roller "You're Breakin' My Heart," from his album Son Of Schmilsson, certain people got very upset. If you've already heard the song, you know why. If you haven't, telling you why would spoil it. You'll get it quickly anyway.* It's a great, great song, a heartening slice of pop nihilism, although it created backlash in the Nilsson Nation. One listener actually took the time to break the record into pieces, put those pieces back into the album cover, and mail it back to RCA Victor. I believe Nilsson mentioned that he really appreciated that listener's work ethic and creativity.

*If you still wonder what the big deal was after hearing the song -- well, this was 1972. There were certain rules pop music followed in 1972. This was a clear breach of those rules. But for good reason.

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