Lane’s 45 pick: ‘Everybody’s Talkin” by Harry Nilsson (1969)

From the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack: “Everybody’s Talkin'” by Harry Nilsson

Lane Hartwell says:

“I always joke that I was raised by wolves. Seeing Midnight Cowboy as a small child is proof of that.

In 1969, I was 6 years old and my parents were divorcing. My dad had a fling with his secretary and left my mom with two little kids to raise while he ran off and started a new family. My mother was despondent. We lived in a tiny hick town in the Rocky Mountains, population maybe 200, and we had zero support from family as we had none there aside from my dad. My mom worked in a roadside cafe as a waitress serving truckers and lumberjacks. We lived in a motel for awhile, then a mobile home. My mother worked hard and was a good, loving mom, but in her sadness of her failed marriage and the difficulty of working a crappy job she didn’t have a lot of time left over to be one of those parents who lays down the law and guides their children like they do these days. There were no activities like ballet or soccer or gymnastics, it was “go outside and play!” I was very independent as a child, I could cook, clean and even knew how to drive. My mom sort of let us do what we wanted, she trusted us and treated us to a certain degree like adults…we were not shielded from any of the family drama and were given free reign to read what we wanted or watch what we wanted. This is how I saw Midnight Cowboy for the first time. I don’t remember the details about seeing the movie other than I saw it with my mom, but I remember the impact it had on me. I felt a deep empathy for the characters Joe Buck and Ratso Rizzo. I understood on a personal level what it was like to have to hustle to put food on the table or pay the rent…I watched my mom stand on her feet in that dumpy little cafe, smiling at the truckers for the hope of a good tip. And the theme song, Everybody’s Talkin’ brings tears to my eyes whenever I hear it. I think it’s one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Lyrically it expresses perfectly what our life was like at the time. My mom hated the cold snowy winters of the mountains and like Ratso Rizzo dreamed of sunny beaches and palm trees. She wanted to go home to California, but we could not afford to, and she didn’t want to tear us away from our father. So we stayed on and she suffered, and I knew she suffered and I felt her sadness and my sadness as deeply as a six year old could. To this day, I root for the underdog, the beautiful losers. I know those people, I was once those people. I cannot hear this song and not think of the movie and my lovely mother who sacrificed so much trying to do better for her kids.”

I’m going where the sun keeps shining
Through the pouring rain
Going where the weather suits my clothes
Banking off of the northeast winds
Sailing on a summer breeze
And skipping over the ocean like a stone

Harry Nilsson

Wondering what this is all about?

In September 2015, I asked readers of my inbox zine, Rusty’s Electric Dreams, to share their all-time favorite single from the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s and tell me why they like it.

Years ago, a friend of mine had a “33 1/3” birthday party where she spun vinyl LPs. I thought that was a cool idea and imagined doing that for my 45th, but with everyone sharing their favorite 45 RPM singles.

So, here we are. It’s September 2015 and my birthday quickly approaches.

Instead of having a big bash, I have a SPECIAL REQUEST to ask of all of you. I want to take a musical trip down memory lane, because –seriously– where would we be without music??

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