One day, when I was 7, I went over to my uncle's house. He was going to baby-sit me. I thought he was cool, cuz he was my mom's younger brother (her other 3 brothers were older, and all had really serious voices and I never got their jokes). He played really good piano and sang (I always remember it being "Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney, or "The Lime in the Coconut"), and he carved things in wood. And had the cover of a Bette Midler album painted on his bedroom wall. And had a round waterbed covered with white fake fur. Like I said, Cooooool.
So I don't recall much about how I spent that particular afternoon, but what I do remember was gravitating over to his record collection in the living room, and flipping through the albums. And all of a sudden he said, "Do you like stories with songs in them?" "...sure", I replied. "Would you like to listen to this one?" as he pulled out an album with the image of a crocheted profile of a boy, wearing a pointed cap on it, titled "The Point", Harry Nilsson" above it. It looked harmless enough. "Okay..."
So he put the album on and I laid down on the floor on my stomach, with the album cover opened up like a book in front of me, and began to listen. I followed along with the lyrics of each song, and listened to the story from beginning to end. Or I should say "from side A to side B", cuz you had to flip the album over in the middle of the story. Old school, remember?
When my mom came to pick me up, my uncle came over with the album, held it out to me and asked if I would like to take the record home. "You mean, like to keep?!?!" I said, not believing my ears..."Sure, go ahead, take it home with you." he replied. I was completely impressed. No adult had ever given me an album before. And it wasn't a kids one...! It was new. That was a very special gesture in my books.
Harry Nilsson's "The Point" was listened to over and over again throughout my childhood, and shared with my siblings as each of them reached the age where they would appreciate it (or before that!), and with many friends, as the years went by. The songs are permanently engraved into my childhood memory, and in my heart. When I hear Nilsson's voice begin narrating the album, it swoops me up and carries me back in time to the living room in my old house, to that little girl, laying on the shag run in front of an open album cover, entranced in the story of Oblio and his dog, Arrow and their adventures in the "Land of Point"...
The film version here, from 1971, isn't what's on the album, as the video is narrated by Ringo Starr--however the songs are the same. "Think About Your Troubles" remains one of my favourites. And bits and pieces of the The Point have stayed stuck in my world as I grew up...the play on words (my favourite line is at the end, when someone from the crowd shouts, "he's got a point there!", or the Rock Man when he says, "Hey, Baby, wasshappnin', you boys look a little shook up! You been messing with the bees!?). And of course the the story itself: Nilsson's genious, both in musical talent and as a writer and storyteller...
I don't own the album or a record player anymore. But still, every once and awhile I stumble upon it and give it a listen. To go back, for a little while, to that living room floor...and to that little girl.
I hope you enjoy it... :)