A major figure in Greenwich Village in the interpretations of the early 60s, Fred Neil rarely recorded and his songwriting is best known through the interpretations of other performers, notably Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talking,” so memorably heard in the movie Midnight Cowboy. Fred Neil’s own versions of his songs were definitive and brought to life by an impossibly deep, world-weary voice. Musically he soaked up folk, blues, R&B, jazz and pop styles.
1965’s Bleecker And MacDougal captures him to perfection with an ensemble including John Sebastian and Felix Pappalardi. It features many extraordinary songs: “Other Side To This Life,” covered by The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Youngbloods, and Jefferson Airplane, “Little Bit Of Rain,” “Blues On The Ceiling,” and his own recording of “Candy Man” which Roy Orbison cut as the b-side to “Crying” in 1961.
The musician’s musician, he inspired many: Tim Buckley, Gram Parsons, Paul Kantner, David Crosby and Stephen Stills but he was always reluctant to perform both live and in the studio. After leaving Elektra, he recorded only one other truly complete album, the smokier, jazzier, Fred Neil, for Capitol. By the early 70’s Fred Neil had drifted to Florida and had virtually retired, living comfortably off the royalties from “Everybody’s Talking.”