Today a new single from Son of Han is released. Me And My Arrow is a song by Harry Nilsson from 1970.
When Harry Nilsson released his sixth studio album The Point, I, Son of Han, was 12. The single that was pulled from the album, Me And My Arrow, not only reached number 34 on the Billboard Hot 100, but soon after also the teenage consciousness of Han’s son, who at the time was into Deep Purple, The Doors and other underground.
The term guilty pleasure did not yet exist, but the secret love for feather-light songs reared its head, despite my heavy image as a Jim Morrison adept. Irresistibly optimistic tunes like It’s Raining by Rick Derringer and Me And My Arrow by Harry Nilsson always pop into my head unexpectedly, often during a walk or when getting up. And now, more than fifty years later, I feel the urge to edit and record those cheerful earworms myself, as a medicine against the melancholy into which we threaten to sink in these gloomy times. I am known for writing about medicinal midgets, architects of collapsing bridges and related misery, but there must also be room for…
Me and my arrow
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, straighter than narrow
Wherever we go
It’s me and my arrow
Nice isn’t it? Although I promise to leave Paul McCartney’s Mary Had A Little Lamb alone.
The Point was a so-called concept album, a double album on which all the songs together tell a story. The story of the little boy Oblio, who is the only round-headed boy living in a country full of pointy heads. Harry Nilsson reportedly made up the story under the influence of LSD. I won’t tell it here, you can read it on Wikipedia, but at a certain point Oblio is banished to the Pointless Forrest together with his dog Arrow. It is not difficult to see a universal parable in this. Move the story to today and imagine the “normal people” who like to oppose anyone who deviates from the accepted norm, being straight, white, slim, successful, well-spoken, etc. For heaven’s sake, since last Dutch elections we can add “politically right-wing” and “conservative” to that list.
Nilsson had great success for a while. John Lennon is said to have said that Nilsson was his favorite American band, not knowing that Nilsson was an artist. Later they became friends. They were both members of the Hollywood Vampire Drinking Club, which included Keith Moon and Alice Cooper. Nilsson gradually fell into oblivion from the eighties onwards. He focused on things other than music and was, among other things, the national spokesperson for the Coalition To End Gun Violence. Yet another reason to love Harry Nilsson.
In 1993, just before his untimely death, he tried to get a new recording contract with Warner Brothers with a collection of brand new demos under his arm. He was denied that. The same Warner that gave me permission to record Me And My Arrow on the condition that all proceeds would go to Warner Chappell Music. There is a lot of grumbling about Spotify, but the record labels and music publishers are no better. So when you stream my version of Me And My Arrow, you should know that a fraction of a cent will flow to the music industry capitalists, and a fraction of that will flow to Harry Nilsson’s heirs, who also did nothing for it. Well, let’s light a candle for Harry Nilsson and hope for better times, without Gun Violence.
Son of Han, 12 January 2023
PS the whistle sound at the beginning of the song is from sister-in-law Moon de Wever, who can whistle on her fingers like a dock worker, and the dachshund on the cover is not Arrow but Willem. Big friend Jan de Kruijf played the fretless bass guitar and helped producing the record.