Harry Nilsson – Jump Into The Fire

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
Whoa-o-o-o-, whoa-o-o-o-

We can make each other happy [4X]
[Repeat entire 3 times more]
You can jump into the fire [4X]


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

48 thoughts on “Harry Nilsson – Jump Into The Fire”

      1. Wow awesome. Thanks so much for sharing. I will definitely read this. I thought he would have done it. The other thing that impressed me was who choreagraphed the fight scenes for him, because they are incredible.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. You’re welcome. I agree about the fight scenes and just about everything he does in his movies — they are the best. I’ve seen them all. Hard to choose a favorite.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I agree. He’s a remarkable director. I’ve seen them all too. I think my favourites are Jackie Brown and Kill Bill 2, but it’s hard to pinpoint one since Pulp and Reservoir are so great. To be honest his latest films haven’t been my cup of tea compared to his earlier ones.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I didn’t connect much with his first movie. I’ve loved all of the rest. I really like those two you chose also. My favorites are probably Death Proof and Inglourious Basterds. And the last one! I know he did From Dusk to Dawn and that’s horror, but I wish he’d do another horror flick.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I had to watch reservoir dogs a few times and once I watched it in its entirety. I was impressed. Death proof I liked and Basterds. Dusk to Dawn I have to see again, but he acted and wasn’t a director, right?

        Liked by 1 person

      6. With the regards to contemporary-music Scorsese seems to be the ants-pants blending film to music. I think Cameron Crowe has done a very fine job as well with more obscure music. I think off the top of my head my favourite piece of music set to film apart from all of ‘Amadeus’ is the Nothing Song at the end of Vanilla Sky. That sends shivers down my spine every time and I’ve written about it adnauseum. What is yours?

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Harry Nilsson is a favorite of mine. I love his diversity and songwriting. To me, he has an eccentric, intellectual personality that he channels in his work, beautifully. Jump into the Fire is a rockin tune no doubt. We had a massive stereo back in the day and that bass would vibrate our house.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh a good stereo…that bass would rattle the windows…it so different. Nilsson was a special talent no doubt.


  2. No question about it, Goodfellas had a really good soundtrack. I remember the song from that bit of the movie (I like it, but am not as big a fan of the film as many I know and have just seen it twice) but I didn’t know it was Nilsson… hadn’t really thought about who it was, but I wouldn’t have guessed Coconut Harry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea this was out of his scope…and it ran straight into a Stones song and sounded natural… I do love that movie…I’ve probably seen it 5-6 times.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nilsson can’t go wrong and he does have great range of genre. I’m totally amazed that he never performed before a live audience except for that one walk on. His voice in Without You is tender to infinity. I love this song. It has just the right beat to dance like a puppet to the muse.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great songwriter and a genius interpreter of other peoples songs, what a singer! Without You is a drop jaw moment that shows up singers who have the range and zero emotion on their simpering copycat versions. Oops sorry Mariah! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree totally…the “other” version don’t even come close…and yea I’m talking about Mariah…Badfinger’s original was a blues song…not what Harry did. Nothing compares to Nilsson’s

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Harry was one of the first to hit the old song reinterpretation bandwagon with ‘A Little Touch Of Schmilsson’ way back when anything older than five years was ‘lame-o, Man.’ Now everyone digs back into the old gold for an album of Oldies, Rod Stewart, Brian Wilson, even Westlife! (And ain’t THAT album a painful kick in the head?)
    Also, I never knew ‘Memo From Turner’ was a Stones song, I’d thought it was Jagger solo for his ‘Performance’ movie.
    And the’ Brian Jones Memorial Swim Party?’ Lol. I guess you had to be there and be sooo stoned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea back then they were moldie oldies…Same with movies also now…the reboot factor gone wild.
      That version was the Jagger version…you are correct…the Stones also had a version on Metamorphosis and I had that album and that is why my mind goes to the Stones…different version of it though.
      Plus a 3rd version is out there somewhere. So it’s Three Memos to Turner.

      I had to add that bit about Jojnes.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I wasn’t familiar with this song of Harry’s, but what a great song. He created so many different sounds. At the end of that Goodfellas clip I thought I heard a bit of Magic Bus as well. The ‘I want it’. Confession: I’ve never seen Goodfellas.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ok. I am familiar with the tune but, didn’t know it came from him. I just listened to him on YouTube. I don’t recall hearing him sing this, though I have heard other versions of the song.

        Liked by 1 person

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