My Favorite Songs: Harry Nilsson, ‘Bath’

It never fails. Every time I’m driving somewhere in my car and the speakers sing at me, “I’m leaving here this morning, and I don’t know where I’ve been,” I think, “HEY, this sounds JUST LIKE Harry Nilsson!” Then I look at the index card where I’ve written down the CD’s song list and see:

“Bath” — Harry Nilsson

And then I feel really dumb, because not only did I put the song on the CD myself, but I recall that every occasion when I hear it, I think it’s somebody who SOUNDS like Nilsson, but then am reminded that it actually IS Nilsson. I don’t really know why this keeps happening. Probably after this post, I will no longer have that problem. Though, kudos to me for — without KNOWING the song is Nilsson — LIKENING it to Nilsson. I mean, in my defense, I’ve often reviewed music that sounds so much like Nilsson, it could actually be him, so this probably comes down to trust issues. How can I trust what I’m hearing is Nilsson when he’s one of the more emulated artists of music past in today’s indie universe (other strongest contenders, in my experience, being David Bowie and Neil Young).

I mean, come on, just listen to this cover by The 88. It’s pretty much exactly the same. SUCH TRICKERY.

I love me some Nilsson, I do. In fact, I even love some Nilsson songs more than I love “Bath.” Overall, “Nilsson Schmilsson” is a superior album to “Aerial Ballet,” and both “Pandemonium Shadow Show” and “Son of Schmilsson” are responsible for my most played Nilsson tunes. Even the songs from “The Point” are sentimentally more important to me than “Bath” could ever be.

So the reason why “Bath” is one of my favorite songs? It’s that instant inner smile I feel when I hear the opening notes because it’s so perfectly Nilsson. Every time I hear it, no matter how I’m feeling, I tune out the world and become enveloped in this happy Nilssonland, where melodies are sunny (even if the words sometimes aren’t) and nothing is complicated. And my little heart can’t help but sing out “Doo wack a doo wack a doo wack a doo wack a doo wack a doo wack a doo” right along with him.


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