It most likely wasn’t meant as a challenge, but Brian Christinzio heard it that way. The singer/songwriter, better known in the guise of BC Camplight, was talking with a friend who complained, Christinzio recalls, that “nobody does what Harry Nilsson did anymore — these theatrical pop songs with not just rock ’n’ roll singing, but real singing, supporting themselves on the piano. And I was like, ‘I can do that.’”
The only problem being that Christinzio had only ever heard a grand total of three of the late, iconoclastic singer/songwriter’s tunes. That may come as a surprise to many who hear strong parallels between Nilsson’s grandly imagined, insanely catchy pop songs and BC Camplight’s similarly oriented fare, but Christinzio’s “Camplight Sings Nilsson” night at Johnny Brenda’s required a crash course. The show, which will feature performances ranging from Christinzio solo at the piano to a full 14-piece band with horns and strings, will also include songs picked by Camplight fans on Facebook.
“I don’t want this to be a cover band that kind of sucks and is a little sad,” says Christinzio. “This will be its own thing, and I think it’s going to be really, really entertaining.”
On the program
Camplight’s repertoire for the evening will feature songs penned by Harry Nilsson, including “Gotta Get Up” and “You’re Breakin’ My Heart” (better known by the four-letter expletive in its chorus), and songs he’s covered, like Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers To Cross.” One song you should not expect to hear is Nilsson’s biggest hit, “Everybody’s Talkin’”, the Grammy-winning theme to “Midnight Cowboy,” which he recorded but didn’t write.
“I wouldn’t give a s— if Harry Nilsson was singing that song in front of me,” Christinzio says. “It just wouldn’t entertain me.”