366 Songs 186: I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City

If you’re thinking “This song sounds really familiar…” then that’s no accident; Harry Nilsson wrote and recorded it as something close to a rip-off of his cover version of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin'”, pretty much. There was a particular reason why, of course: In the early ’70s, the makers of the movie Midnight Cowboy had, apparently, issued something resembling an open call for submissions for its theme song during its post-production phase to replace Nilsson’s version of “Everybody’s Talkin'” – used as musical stand-in during editing – for Academy Award purposes before final release. Hoping to land a lucrative deal with a song he’d actually written, Nilsson created this song to be an as-close-as-dammit contender. For whatever reason, it didn’t take – Also created for this reason, and also discarded, was Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay,” fact fans – and the moviemakers stuck with “Everybody’s Talkin'” for the final release. From my point of view, it was the wrong choice: I’ve always had this odd relationship with the song “Everybody’s Talkin'” – I’ve kind of liked it, but there’s always been something about it that never quite sat right with me. Thankfully, there’s this song to swoop in and save the day, providing everything I like about the Nilsson version but adding a melody and lyric that I appreciate more. I think it’s the wonderful fall during “Well, here I am Lord, knocking at your back door…” (I can’t hear that part without mentally singing along “bum bum bum BUM”).