Harry Nilsson, The Point (1970)

I still have a vague recollection of watching the animated TV movie The Point when I was about five and a half years old.  And I think it messed me up pretty good.

Best as I can recall (and I've probably repressed a good chunk of this), it's about a boy named Oblio, who lives in a village where everyone has a pointy head.  Everyone except Oblio, who is cursed with a round head.  The village elders, determining Oblio has no point (get it? it's a metaphor? maybe?), vanquish him from the town, along with his dog Arrow.  He then has some adventures (I'm pretty foggy on this part), ultimately returning to the village, only now he has a point!  But once he removes his hat to show his point, everyone else loses theirs.

Does this make any sense?  Apparently Harry Nilsson was tripping when he wrote the story, which was adapted for tv (and some of the philosophical aspects of the narrative definitely sound like they'd make a lot more sense if you were incredibly high).  All I know is it seemed awfully dark at the time.  Banishing a little kid?  Banishing a little kid's DOG?  Even worse, Oblio was voiced on tv by the actor who played Bobby Brady on the Brady Bunch, so it felt like they were actually banishing Bobby Brady.  (The narrator of the show was Dustin Hoffman; but he wouldn't let them use his voice on reruns, so they got Ringo Starr to narrate for the video release.)

Anyway, what matters is that Nilsson wrote some lovely little tunes to go with the tale, and was at the peak of his unsurpassed vocal skills, so the album itself is pretty great, even if it dredges up weird nightmares from back when I was five and they mistreated poor Bobby Brady.

"Me & My Arrow" is the one everyone knows, but the album is fun of weird little ditties that are both specific to the cartoonish narrative arc of the film and yet are perfectly enjoyable if you've never seen it. They're not necessarily exemplary illustrations of songwriting, often saying little and sounding almost like vocal exercises.  But damn, those vocals! 

Nilsson does all the between-song narration on the record.  Personally, at least up until the point that he blew out his vocal cords while spending a drunken year hanging out with John Lennon, I'd listen to Nilsson read Donald Trump's tweets aloud and still swoon a bit, so I'm cool with the narration here; though I did burn myself a CDR copy that cuts out the narrative interludes and re-segues the songs so I can enjoy the music-only experience as well.  Alas, it's a pretty slight album, and at that point you're down to about 20 minutes of actual songs -- so consider this a fine EP.

Here's the video clip for "Think About Your Troubles":

And here's Harry singing the same song, plus "Poli High," on a tv special.  Damn, that voice...

Buy it on Amazon.

Comments