(Credits: Far Out / Spotify)
Directly, John Lennon has inspired countless notable artists with his work as a songwriter in The Beatles and a solo performer. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Even his other projects wherein he took a backseat role, such as the David Bowie collaboration ‘Fame’, also impacted contemporary culture as we know it.
Perhaps his most notable effort outside of The Beatles and his solo career is Harry Nilsson’s 1974 album Pussy Cats. Lennon produced the record during his infamous ‘Lost Weekend’ period, a chapter of around 18 months which saw the Liverpudlian embark on a love affair with May Pang, the former assistant to his wife Yoko Ono, and become deeply ensconced in a world of drugs and alcohol while tearing up in Los Angeles alongside Nilsson and others.
Accordingly, Pussy Cats is a somewhat unhinged ode to excess comprised of Nilsson originals and covers of classic songs, including Bob Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’. It also boasts an all-star cast featuring the likes of former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Klaus Voorman, Bobby Keys, and many others. Even just mentioning the collaborators involved evokes just how wild the time was.
Regardless of the anarchy that fuelled Pussy Cats, it is still a highlight of the 1970s that never fails to surprise. What is particularly remarkable about its role in the contemporary era is that it also directly inspired a Lana Del Rey song via the Nilsson original ‘Don’t Forget Me’.
When speaking to Interview, Del Rey revealed that she referenced ‘Don’t Forget Me’ in her song ‘Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd’ from the year’s album of the same name.
“Mike Hermosa and I, the first song we wrote was, ‘Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd,’” she explained. “I was spending a lot of time in Long Beach and I had read that there was a tunnel sealed up under the Jergins [Trust] Building. All of the mosaic ceilings were still perfectly preserved, but no one could get in.”
“I had also been listening to a lot of Harry Nilsson,” she continued. “He has this song called ‘Don’t Forget Me.’ That sentiment plus this man-made tunnel that was sealed up but was so beautiful, I liked the idea of putting them together. I knew right off the bat that that was going to be the title.”
Listen to Nilsson and Del Rey’s tracks below.