How did the 1970s and Los Angeles end up creating such idiosyncratic singer-songwriters as Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson and Van Dyke Parks?

The first thing you should know about Harry Nilsson is that he won a Grammy for covering a schmaltzy Badfinger ballad called ‘Without You’ in 1971. The second thing you should know is that I once read an interview with Nilsson where he claimed to have recorded ‘Without You’ after having taken what he described as ‘a little mescaline.’ The third thing is that ‘Without You’ is on an album called Nilsson Schmilsson, a title basically designed to make fun of Nilsson’s name, and that the cover of Nilsson Schmilsson is a picture of Harry Nilsson, unshaven, wearing a bathrobe.

“L.A. Weirdos.” — Mike Powell, Pitchfork

Previously: “Jack White Is the Coolest, Weirdest, Savviest Rock Star of Our Time.”