Let's all take a moment right now -- RIGHT NOW, YOU LAZY PEOPLE -- and express our gratitude for Our Friend Internet. Even despite all the virtual kudzu of unstoppable ugliness that one encounters in the digital universe, it is surely one of the greatest achievements in human history for the rapidity and depth of knowledge that can now be shared by almost everyone on the planet, from resourcing rare diseases to tracking national revolutions in real time, to finding that awesome chili recipe you loved and thought was lost for good. Take a sec and flood your brain with the overwhelming AMAZE-O of it all, won't you?

Our Friend Internet came through for me again today (like it does multiple times each and every day, really) with the coolest thing -- with my late-ish discovery of a studio demo tape of one of my favorite singers and composers of all time, Harry Nilsson. I don't use the word "gifted" very much because it is so grossly overused, but whenever I listen to Harry's voice, I am just awestruck by the easy grace and cleverness of his musicianship -- he was so exceptional. I feel better when I listen to anything he did; why, I don't know, but his recordings make my heart all warm and my spirits soar. And that, my leetel frens, is quite a lovely thing.

In March of 1967, Harry had just been signed to RCA Records, but was still working at a local bank. After coming to the attention of Monkees producer Chip Douglas, Harry was invited into the studio to preview some songs of his that might be suitable to use on the pop TV group's next album. Tape was rolling, and we hear in Harry in fits and starts performing pieces of the songs; it is in wonderful sound quality and is the most damn charming thing, short and sweet. Here's a YouTube playlist of all the songs:

Harry Nilsson, "The Monkees Demos," RCA Studio C, Hollywood, California, March 17, 1967

The Monkees did indeed end up recording and releasing one of the songs from this set as a single the next year, "Cuddly Toy." When the Monkees record one of your songs, you get to quit your bank job. The Monkees and then the Beatles starting singing Nilsson's praises to anyone who would listen, and his career took off at last. Harry became close friends in particular with Mickey Dolenz and John Lennon, and campaigned tirelessly for gun control laws after Lennon's murder in 1980. Harry died in 1994.

The Monkees, "Cuddly Toy"

I hope you ENJOY THESE as much as I did!