Midnight Cowboy is a great, somewhat dated movie and is, to date, the only X-rated movie ever to win best picture. (The stuff it got an X for in 1969 you can now see on cable TV any day of the week. X has since been replaced by NC-17.)
I mention this because that movie was the first time the great majority of us had ever heard ‘Everybody’s Talkin.'” And what a great, plaintive song it was and is. There are times that I still relate to the lyrics:
Everybody’s talking at me
I don’t hear a word they’re saying
Only the echoes of my mind
People stopping, staring
I can’t see their faces
Only the shadows of their eyes
But the song was written by a guy named Fred Neil of whom Wikipedia tells us: “Fred Neil was an American folk singer-songwriter active in the 1960s and early 1970s. He did not achieve commercial success as a performer and is mainly known through other people’s recordings of his material Though highly regarded by contemporary folk singers he was reluctant to tour and spent much of the last 30 years of his life assisting with the preservation of dolphins. (! That’s what ME wants to do when he retires.)
Neil was considered the King of the MacDougal Street/Greenwich Village folksingers. Bob Dylan recalled that when he arrived at the Village, he was advised to seek Neil there, and, when he did, Neil invited Dylan to join him on stage.”
His album Fred Neil, released in 1967, and relaunched in 1969 as Everybody’s Talkin’, was recorded during his residencies in Greenwich Village and Coconut Grove, with one session taking place in Los Angeles.
Here’s his original:
As readers of this blog know I always like a little radical reinvention of a tune or at least hearing it from someone who I didn’t expect to perform it. My guess is you all know at least to some extent the Tedeschi/Trucks band. Derek Trucks, nephew of the late Allmans’ drummer Butch Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, scion of the Tedeschi family which runs a chain of variety stores.
Or I should say, ran a chain as they were bought out by7-Eleven. Susan could have been some big retail executive calling up to find out where her shipment of Kool-Aid is but n-ooo-oo, she had to go ahead and become a blues guitarist and singer. Which suits me fine. The retail grocery businesses loss is our gain:
Here’s their version which turns the song into a loose, funky thang:
And for all that, I gotta say my favorite version is still Harry Nilsson’s. If you need a Nilsson refresher, read this. This version (with strings) really speaks to me and captures the mood of the movie, especially in the last scenes:
I’m going where the sun keeps shining
Through the pouring rain
Going where the weather suits my clothes
Banking off of the northeast winds
Sailing on a summer breeze
And skipping over the ocean like a stone
Speaking of Dylan, his “Lay Lady Lay” was originally written for the soundtrack of Midnight Cowboy but wasn’t submitted in time to be included in the finished film. It was also a big hit in 1969.