Freedman Does Nilsson tour above Melbourne Pops Orchestra

In 2014, Tim Freedman will be honouring the legacy of one of the 20th century’s great singer-songwriters – the legendary Harry Nilsson.

Harry Nilsson (credited simply as “Nilsson” in his album titles) created a body of work throughout the 60’s and 70’s that is going through a resurgence of interest at the moment. A 17 disc box set “The RCA Albums Collection” has just been released, as has a full length biography: “Nilsson – The Life of a Singer-Songwriter”.

Nilsson won two Grammys for his most recognisable performances: 1969’s “Everybody’s Talkin” (theme song for the iconic movie “Midnight Cowboy”) and 1972’s “Without You”. He penned such classics as “One” (famous in Australia from John Farnham’s version), the irrepressible cult favourite, “Coconut” and his first big pay cheque, The Monkees’ “Cuddly Toy”.

In a 1968 press conference, John Lennon and Paul McCartney famously referred to Nilsson as their “favourite American group” after Lennon had listened to his second album for 36 hours straight. Nilsson’s relationship with The Beatles was to become central to his life, and the infamous rabble rouser became best friends with Ringo Starr throughout the 70’s. John Lennon produced his 1974 album – “Pussy Cats” after their exploits during the notorious Lost Weekend and it was John who negotiated Nillson’s record deal with RCA that kept him recording long after drug and alcohol abuse had damaged his beautiful voice.

Before that in 1970, Nilsson recorded “Nilsson Sings Newman”. Never forgetting what inspired him, Nilsson recorded an album of Randy Newman’s early repertoire with little regard for fashion or chart position, even though he was near the peak of his own popularity at the time.

It is in this tradition that Tim Freedman has decided to do the same thing with “Freedman Does Nilsson”. While being a gifted studio artist, Nilsson suffered from horrific stage fright which meant he never performed his songs in concert, ever. With this tour, Freedman has decided to create a “live imagining” of what a concert of Harry Nilsson may have been like.

“Harry was either very very good, or very very bad. It’s a poignant and often hilarious story with great songs that I’ve loved putting together,” says Freedman.

Tim Freedman is one of Australia’s most accomplished contemporary songwriters. His lyrics have been described as having a “charming cynicism”, enhanced by an instinct for a poignant melody and a highly individual musical style. Like Nilsson his songs take sharp turns from the heart breaking to the whimsical, and like Nilsson his songs work wonderfully with just piano and vocal. Freedman interviewed Randy Newman for the Sydney Morning Herald in 2011, and looks forward especially to singing Freedman singing Nilsson singing Newman.

The Whitlams won ‘Best Group’ at the 1998 ARIA Awards, as well as ‘Song of the Year’ and ‘Best Independent Release’ for their third album “Eternal Nightcap”. In 2011 this album was placed 27th on the ABC’s “My Favourite Album” poll, and more recently was voted no. 17 in “JJJ’s Hottest Australian Albums of All Time”.

The Whitlams recorded output spans seven albums since 1993, and includes the double platinum “Love This City”, the No. 1 “Torch the Moon” and their “Truth, Beauty & A Picture of You – Best of the Whitlams” which sat in the Top 10 for six weeks running. More recently Tim released a solo album on Sony titled “Australian Idle”.

Tim’s solo performances are a treat for music lovers, as his intimate banter, caustic wit, honest vocals and stripped-back piano style have captivated audiences around the world, the highlights being his solo Sunday night residencies at London’s Ronnie Scotts in 2003 and 2005, and his nine year stretch of annual Christmas shows at The Basement in Sydney.

His interpretation of Nilsson classics accompanied by anecdotes of each song and of how they fit into Nilsson’s reckless life is an event not to be missed.