Daryl Glenn and Nellie McKay Sing Robert Altman's Popeye - New York City Article
Daryl Glenn and Nellie McKay Sing Robert Altman's Popeye
Feinstein’s / 54 Below
254 W 54th Street, (646) 476-3551
Wednesday, April 11
In 1980, the big budget Paramount-Disney movie Popeye (masterminded by two name-above-the-title Roberts, director Robert Altman and producer Robert Evans) was too quirky to be a mass-market success and too high-profile to be a cult movie (like, say, The Rocky Horror Picture or Forbidden Zone). It was also most notable at the time for introducing both the 29-year-old Robin Williams, then known for his TV career, and the then-50-year-old character Popeye the Sailor, still mainly known for his long-running animated cartoon series and comic strip, into the world of live action Hollywood extravaganzas. But whereas everything about the production, especially the performances of Williams and Shelly Duvall as the sailorman’s love interest Olive Oyl, was designed to capture the general vibe of the classic Max Fleischer Popeye shorts of the 1930s, the major exception was the score. Composed by singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson, the songs didn’t sound like vintage cartoon music or even show tunes, but sort of a sunshine-pop-infused combination of everything. More that the movie itself, the Nilsson songs have achieved a cult following over the years (“He Needs Me” was reprised in the soundtrack of the 2002 film Punch Drunk Love), and I can’t think of two more agreeably quirky, idiosyncratic artists to bring the full score to life on the Feinstein’s / 54 Below stage than Nellie McKay and Daryl Glenn.
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)