Continuing our "How I Got Here" series featuring kindie artsts talking about albums that influenced them as musicians, Recess Monkey's songwriter-savant Drew Holloway talks today about one of the kids music albums that can truly be called "classic" -- Harry Nilsson's animated special/soundtrack The Point!. While Holloway doesn't cite Nilsson's work as an influence on the band's latest album, the excellent In Tents, his recognition of the importance of the story throughline in Nilsson's music definitely shows up in more than one RM disk.
When I was in college in the mid-nineties a friend gave me the gift of Harry Nilsson. I received a three-disc greatest hits collection with a bushy-bearded, flat-cap-wearing fella on the cover. Though I wasn’t quite sure at first, I recognized some tunes like “Coconut” and “One.” Popping the first CD in, I was instantly mesmerized by the honeyed tones of Harry’s layered voice. One song in particular, the super-earwormy “Me and My Arrow” seemed like the theme song for a cartoon I somehow missed growing up. Well it was.
The Point! is a made-for-TV animated tale from the early seventies that through song and narration tells the story of a young boy Oblio, and his best pal Arrow. Born with out a pointed head, Oblio is banished from the Land of Point. He and Arrow embark on a journey that eventually leads them back home with a lesson to share. Their trip is a little “trippy,” due in part to Nilsson’s acidic state of mind while conceiving the idea for the story. On the whole however, The Point! has a big heart, a nice smattering of humor and is chock-full of incredible pop songs, my favorite being “Think About Your Troubles.”
Fast-forward to 2007, Recess Monkey had released two CDs, Welcome to Monkey Town and Aminal House, and we were playing with ideas for our third release. I had recently gotten Morgan Taylor’s first Gustafer Yellowgold CD and loved his mix of storytelling and angular songwriting. It instantly reminded me of that Harry Nilsson record I had been meaning to digest. I began listening to The Point soundtrack over and over again. With each repetition of Harry’s record, the excitement for creating a sweeping story through song became stronger and stronger.
In the spring of that year, we sat down as a band to watch The Point!. It certainly had an impact as we began writing what would become Wonderstuff. All that was needed to complete our project was some time to learn the ukulele, leading a two-week summer camp for elementary school kids and spending many late summer evenings doing overdubs and writing and recording narrations.
That summer was highly creative and full twists and turns. Not unlike the story of the great Harry Nilsson, who, might I add, was one of the Beatles’ favorite artists. There’s all the proof you need, right? There is a recent documentary, Who is Harry Nilsson and Why is Everyone Talking About Him? that is available to stream on Netflix. I highly recommend it and of course, giving The Point! a spin and/or a viewing.
Photo Credit: Kevin Fry