“In the wintertime, keep your feet warm,
but keep your clothes on and don’t forget me.”
This song is almost perfectly characteristic of the Harry Nilsson I have always loved. It has a melancholy vibe with a healthy dose of dark humor. The one thing missing is his pristine voice which, at this point, had been damaged by years of partying and hard living. In a way, though, that just adds to the melancholy.
This is not among Harry’s best-known songs. The peak of his career had passed, and this album’s biggest selling point was probably its producer, John Lennon. At the time, John was separated from Yoko, and he and Harry were living together in L.A. and not at all living the quiet life. (One of the most often-shown pictures of Harry is of him being held back by John as they were being thrown out of a Smothers Brothers show.)
Another reason why I chose this song is because it made me fall hopelessly in love with Neko Case. I was already a fan when I first heard her cover this song (amazingly) on her 2009 album “Middle Cyclone”. As I wrote before, this is a rather obscure Harry Nilsson song. For her to know and love Harry like I do was the last straw. I’d leave my girlfriend for Neko Case. (She’d leave me for Bruce Springsteen. It’s only fair.)
This isn’t my favorite Harry Nilsson song or among the ones I happened to hear the night he died. (Those are “Without You”, “Coconut”, and “I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City”.) It is, however, the one that most often springs to mind when I think of him, so very Harry.
“And when you’re older and full of cancer,
it doesn’t matter now. Come on. Get happy.
‘Cause nothing lasts forever, but I will always love you.”