A song so good, it made driving a Plymouth Arrow seem cool. For thirty seconds, anyway.
Kronomyth 6.1: Plymouth rock.
I’ve never subscribed to the theory that a survival instinct is hot-wired into every human being. I, for example, don’t have a survival instinct. Presented with life-threatening danger, I would probably hide under a blanket. I think of it as an escape instinct. I’m not interested in preserving my life so much as escaping the symptoms of it: boredom, pain, humiliation, fear, etc. As I see it, most of humanity’s pursuits center on alleviating these symptoms rather than prolonging a carousel ride of calamities, insecurities and infirmities.
It’s not exactly the introductory paragraph you might expect in a discussion of Nilsson’s Me And My Arrow, but there’s a point to this. Nilsson was a master escape artist. Creating a cartoon version of a world where evil manifests itself as nothing more than petty jealousies, kings are kind-hearted and feeble, authorities and businessmen are debunked as fools, and a boy and his dog might wander alone into the world and suffer nothing more serious than a swarm of bees is a form of escaping from a very different world. We gain money to escape hunger and fear. We marry and have children to escape loneliness. We crave power to escape meaninglessness. We watch television to escape boredom. We drink and do drugs to escape everything. And we listen to music to escape the banality of our own human condition. (The universal belief in an afterlife is the ultimate escape hatch, although as a Christian I believe it’s one that God intended us to use.)
Nilsson’s The Point is a wonderful place to escape to. Watching it on television as a kid is one of the fonder memories I have. I don’t have many memories of my past, which I suspect has something to do with the way my brain is wired, but I do have a few dozen childhood memories and cartoon movies make up a pretty substantial portion of them: The Point; The Incredible, Indelible, Magical, Physical Mystery Trip; Yellow Submarine; Gay Purr-ee; A Man Called Flintstone; Rikki-Tikki-Tavi; Fantastic Planet. I used to go to bed at night wishing I could wake up in a cartoon world.
But enough of my bitter ruminations. This single was the only one released from Nilsson’s soundtrack to The Point. Both songs are identical to the elpee versions. The songs on The Point, though pitched as a children’s story, are in some cases love songs masquerading as a sequence of events in the plot. Both “Me And My Arrow” and Are You Sleeping?, for example, were clearly written from the perspective of a man and a woman in a relationship. They’re also two of the best songs from the soundtrack, so I’m thankful that Nilsson found a way to squeeze them into the story anyway.
Original 7-inch single version
A1. Me And My Arrow (Nilsson) (2:03)
B1. Are You Sleeping? (Nilsson) (2:23)
In the UK, an Oxford comma somehow slipped into the title, becoming “Me, And My Arrow.”
Original 7-inch single version (Spain)
A1. Me And My Arrow (Nilsson) (2:03)
B1. Poli High (Nilsson) (2:37)
Back-to-back hits 7-inch single version
A1. Without You (Pete Ham/Tom Evans) (3:16)
B1. Me And My Arrow (Nilsson) (2:03)
Released on 7-inch single in February 1971* in the US (RCA, 74-0443), the UK (RCA, RCA 2080), Australia, Canada, Germany and New Zealand (RCA Victor, 74-0443) and Spain (RCA Victor, N 1642) with regional picture sleeve; reached #34 on the US charts (charted on March 20, 1971 for 15 weeks). (*First appeared in 2/27/71 issue of Billboard.)
- Re-released with “Without You” on back-to-back hits 7-inch single in December 1972 in the US (RCA Gold Standard, 447-0924).
1 thought on “Nilsson: “Me And My Arrow” (1971)”
Plymouth was big on using catchy tunes to pitch their cars back then. There was the Volare — Plymouth’s song choice is obvious. The Fury — lacking an appropriate song, they used “They Call The Wind Mariah” and changed the words to “They Call the Wind the Fury,” which I enjoy singing to my cat from time to time.
When they used “Me And My Arrow” to pitch their captive-import car, I don’t know, it felt kinda cheap. I imagine a conversation like this:
“OK, we need a name for this piece o’ crap we’re bringing over from Mitsubishi. But the name has to have a decent song that goes with it.”
“Bob says we can have Nilsson’s ‘Me And My Arrow’ song for 50 bucks.”
“What? Yeah? Whatever. Who the hell cares.”
Then Iacocca took over and saved the day.