The first full-length Harry Nilsson biography, Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter by Alyn Shipton, is in stores today! PopMatters has given the book a perfect 10, calling it “a perfect portrait of an imperfect man.” Here is an excerpt from their review. Please share your thoughts:
What makes Shipton’s book essential reading is not just his enthusiasm for the subject, which is evident on each page, but his honesty, as well. No one can talk about Nilsson without talking about his failures … That said, there’s no way you can do anything but love Nilsson, maybe even because of those failures. He was, by all accounts, warm, generous, funny, brilliant, and a guy who had a heart large enough to match his outsized personality. His rich, avuncular voice could make you laugh not only when he sang, but also when he spoke, and his singing could help heal even the deepest wounds.
There’s humor, warmth, friendship, kindness, love, and wisdom, all the things that Nilsson himself included in his songs. Shipton captures those while delivering a sometimes lovely but always honest portrait of a man who left the planet far too soon and whose presence is deeply missed. Remarkably, for a story of this scope there’s neither a moment or word wasted, nor is there seemingly any stone unturned. Bravo to Shipton for not only giving us the first Nilsson biography but, really, the only one we ever may need.