I remember this song most in Goodfellas in the scene where Henry is doing cocaine, then walking out the door, placing guns in the car trunk while a helicopter circles above. The song has a Stones feel to it. It would have not have been out of place on one of their albums.
The song was released in 1971 on his album Nilsson Schmilsson. It also contained the Badfinger cover Without You and Coconut. Jump into the Fire peaked at#27 in the Billboard 100 and #16 in Canada. This song was more rock than he usually released. From the man who wrote Coconut, Me and My Arrow, and the Puppy Song… this was a departure.
Harry’s voice was one of a kind. That is said a lot about singers but with Nilsson it was true. Just one listen to how he reimaged Without You tells you all you need to know. He was also a great songwriter on top of that. This song was the follow up to Without You.
The song featured Chris Spedding’s driving guitar, Jim Keltner’s drums and a cool bass solo by Herbie Flowers. The bass alone on the track is worth the price of admission.
In 1968 John Lennon and Paul McCartney were asked who their favorite American group was…they said “Nilsson.” John Lennon would later produce Nilsson’s 1974 album Pussy Cats.
Harry Nilsson: “I’ve had a lot of publicity out of the fact that the Beatles liked my album Pandemonium Shadow Show, and named me as their favorite singer. But I didn’t really like that. Obviously I was very pleased and very flattered – and now I’ve got to know John and Paul quite well, and we get on well together. They’re both very gentle people. But I wasn’t keen on getting all that publicity because of them. It made me feel that I was riding on someone else’s back – in other words it was because of them that I was being talked about, and not because of me. But I think the whole thing was blown up a bit out of proportion by the Press.”
Al Kooper: “I went to visit him at his home in L.A. That first day we smoked a lot of pot and just laughed. Then we went swimming in his pool, with our clothes on, for what was the first and only ‘Brian Jones Memorial Swim Party.’ Later on, we sat down at his piano and traded songs. His voice and songs were fantastic, some of the greatest I’d ever heard.”
He never performed before a live audience during his entire recording career. Shortly before his death, however, he did join Ringo Starr on stage one night during the ex-Beatle’s tour.
Here is the Goodfellas scene where Jump Into The Fire goes into a Stones song
“Jump Into The Fire”
You can climb a mountain
You can swim the sea
You can jump into the fire
But you’ll never be free
You can shake me up
Or I can break you down
We can make each other happy [4X]
[Repeat entire 3 times more]
You can jump into the fire [4X]