Everybody's Talkin'

Album: Aerial Ballet (1968)
Charted: 23 6
Play Video


  • This was featured in Midnight Cowboy, a 1969 movie about a male prostitute in New York City starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight (Angelina Jolie's dad). Although it is the most memorable and popular song from the film, the film's actual title song is "Midnight Cowboy Theme," a haunting instrumental written by the prolific songwriter John Barry, who has done numerous soundtracks. You will recognize the theme by the lonely harmonica which serves as the main instrument. There are lyrics, though the song has rarely been recorded as a vocal.

    A bit of trivia: Midnight Cowboy is the only movie rated X or NC-17 to win an Oscar for Best Picture. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bobby G - Boston, MA
  • "Everybody's Talkin'" wasn't written for Midnight Cowboy - it predates the film by two years. The folk singer Fred Neil wrote the song and released it on his 1967 self-titled album, the first in which he used electric instruments. Neil was a very influential singer who made a name for himself playing Greenwich Village clubs with people like John Sebastian, David Crosby, and Stephen Stills. He pretty much disappeared around 1971, resurfacing every now and then for various events. He had a small, but dedicated group of fans and looked like he was on his way to stardom, but apparently that was never his goal. Neil died in his Florida home in 2001.
  • Bob Dylan submitted his song "Lay Lady Lay" for Midnight Cowboy, but "Everybody's Talkin'" - which was much more appropriate for the film - was used instead.
  • This song won Nilsson the Grammy award for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Male.
  • Nilsson issued "Everybody's Talkin'" as a single in 1968, but it was pulled and released a year later when the movie came out.
  • Fred Neil released his version of the song as a single in 1968, but it didn't do very well. Shortly after Midnight Cowboy came out, Neil's version was re-released along with his album.
  • In the 1994 movie Forrest Gump, when Lt. Dan says, "I'm walking here!" to the cab that almost hits him, "Everybody's Talkin'" is playing in the background, a nod to a similar scene in Midnight Cowboy. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock on the TV series Star Trek, did a very interesting cover version for his 1970 album The New World Of Leonard Nimoy.
  • This was one of the first songs Phil Ramone engineered at the 7th Avenue studio in New York City that he purchased from Columbia Records. He would later record Billy Joel, Dionne Warwick, Paul Simon and many others there.
  • The album title, Aerial Ballet, was inspired by the aerial ballet act performed by Nilsson's Swedish grandparents, who were circus performers and dancers.
  • This was featured in the 2006 comedy Borat, starring Sacha Baron Cohen, and in the 2013 comedy The Hangover Part III, starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis.
  • Dustin Hoffman would go on to narrate Nilsson's animated film The Point!, featuring the hit "Me And My Arrow," in its original telecast on ABC in 1971.
  • Country star Glen Campbell covered this for his final album Adios, Glen Campbell.

Comments: 44

  • Chris Bryant from OhioWas covered by the bluegrass band The Seldom Scene in 2019.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenI never cared for "Midnight Cowboy," but the song is a keeper. If I remember right, Nilsson wrote another song for the movie called "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City," but the producers preferred this one.
  • Les from Cheshire UkGreat memories, keep em coming!
  • Mike from Berkeley, CaBeautiful song--one of the most lyrical tunes to come out on the radio. Minor mistake in the Lyrics tab: "..people stopping, staring" should actually be "...people stop and stare" . And if you haven't seen the movie Midnight Cowboy, it's really a groundbreaking, quality film.
  • Eric from WisconsinIf I am not mistaken this song was used in an episode of "American Dad" when they did a parody of "Midnight Cowboy". Steve was dressed as Joe Buck and Roger was Ratso Rizzo.
  • Cj from MtlThis song is also used in the soundtrack for "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas".. once Johnny Depp's character gets out of his drugged crazed stupor you can hear it in the background during his monologue, gives a nice contrast to the first two acts which are unbound insanity.
  • Jeff from St. Louis MoUsed in Seinfeld in the Jon Voight car episode. I think they did a scene like one Jon Voight did in Midnight Cowboy. Kramer was beaten up, I think on on bus. Something like that at least from my faded memory.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 25th 1969, the United Artists movie 'Midnight Cowboy' had its world premiere in New York City...
    The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won three; Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Writing...
    Nilsson's covered version of "Everybody's Talkin’" was featured in the movie; and later in 1969 on August 10th it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #79, eight weeks later on October 5th, 1969 it would peak at #6 {for 1 week} and it stayed on the chart for 12 weeks...
    And on October 11th, 1969 it reached #1* {for 1 week} on the Canadian RPM Singles chart...
    Between 1969 and 1974 he had ten Top 100 records; three made the Top 10 with one reaching #1, "Without You" for four weeks in 1971...
    Harry Edward Nilsson III passed away on January 15th, 1994 at the young age of 52...
    May he R.I.P.
    * The record that replaced "Everybody's Talkin'" at #1 on the Canadian chart was "Suspicious Minds", Elvis' last #1 record.
  • Phil from Neenah, WiThis was used in one of the episodes of Seinfeld.
  • Jim from London, OnHey Joe (Grants Pass, OR).. I remember " The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" in the late sixties but not the particular episode in which Harry showed up as a lost Beachcomber; however, a bit of research showed me that that was Episode #26 and YouTube has that full episode available:

    So, your wish has been granted. :)
  • Michael from Santa Cruz, CaMy mother used to play this song & "the Point" for me & my brothers & sister.It completely capitvated us.It wasn't until I was older that I saw "Midnight Cowboy",and the song was even more impactful given the context.Pure escapism.
  • Joe from Grants Pass, Oranyone remember " The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" in the late sixties ?? Harry showed up as a lost Beachcomber with nowhere to go, so Mrs. Muir ( Hope Lange ) , let him hang out -- then he starts playin ' .... sure would like to see that again !!!!
  • Jim from Hammond, InUsed in Borat
  • Dan from El Paso, TxJust saw Harry's documentary. What a beautiful man, life, and singer!
  • Steve from Whittier, CaIt was used in the movie Borat from 2006.. The guitar-laden intro sounds like Glen Campbells' 1967 "Gentle on my Mind" [but both facts are already known to everyone!
  • Keneke Kimokeo from Honolulu, HiThere was another popular movie within the last 10 years with this song in it. Sung by someone other that Harry Nilson. A very good version, but I can't remember the movie.
  • David from Youngstown, OhNeil Diamond does a decent version of this on his 1969 "Touching You, Touching Me" album.
  • Jeremy from Warren, RiA beautiful song that every man can relate to at least one point in his life, and the finger picking in this song is amazing!
  • Camille from Toronto, OhBobby G., you describe the true (instrumental) theme from "Midnight Cowboy" well (I've never heard lyrics sung to the tune). I was only 10 when the movie was released, but I remember radio stations would often use popular instrumental music to fill in a minute or half-minute of air time leading into the broadcast of the news at the top of every hour. Thus began my love of instrumental music, as I often heard snippets of this song during those wonderful, lazy childhood days. As for "Everybody's Talkin'", the banjo provides the perfect, continuous, melodious backdrop keeping you aware of the busy-ness of life, while the singer remains somewhat detached from all that is going on around him. I grew up in a large, sometimes dysfunctional family, and even at 10 years of age I could relate to this song!
  • Dong Hwan from Seoul, KoreaEverytime I hear this song, I get a bittersweet feeling about all the suffering I've endured in my life.
  • Bobby G from Boston, Ma"Everybody's Talkin'" is not actually the theme from the film, Midnight Cowboy. Although it is the most memorable and popular song from the film, the film's actual title song is "Midnight Cowboy Theme". It is a haunting instrumental written by prolific song writer John Barry who has done numerous soundtracks. You will recognize the song by the lonely, harmonica as the main voice (instrument). There are lyrics, though the song has rarely been recorded as a vocal.
  • John from Jasper, CanadaThis is by far his greatest achievement but I would like to say he could sing about anything.He was the first pop/rock singer to release an album of jazz classics(schmilsson into the night'73)
  • Musicmama from New York, NyI've always liked hearing Harry Nilsson. He was proof that a male singer's quality wasn't measurable by his volume or his (actual or imagined) testosterone level. It was a great choice for Midnight Cowboy. The instrumental theme from that film is my favorite.
  • Ckathy from Glasgow, ScotlandI first heard of it when the Meat Puppets did it live in 1985!
    Midnight Cowboy is a great movie.
  • Vince from Denver, CoOh, and the Beautiful South's version is the best because of the female singer.
  • Vince from Denver, CoBand called Moose does a nice cover on a compilation called Vinyl Kittens. I love this song.
  • Jason from Dublin, Irelandi meant a grammy which he won in 1970.
  • Hal9000 from Bristol, PaFor my $.02, the Luna version is the best. I always liked the song but that version just hits it. Recorded on their last ever tour.
  • Mutlu Kaan Danýþman from Istanbul , Turkeyý heard this song from the movie 'midnight cowboy' and ý liked it very much...it is so impressive..that you feel yourself so good...this song is one of my best hits....

  • Phil from Sydney, AustraliaActually, a general question - I am a jazz programmer - I write a 2 hour monthly jazz programme for an international airline (in-flight audio)and I often have difficulty finding publishing details of some tracks. Can you help or is there another website that can do this for me?
  • Noah from New York, NyThere is a nice version by Luna on Lunafied.
  • Jason from Dublin, Irelandharry nilsson won an oscar for best vocal performance with this song
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumThis is just a very beautiful song; last week they played "I guess the lord must be in New York
    City" on the radio. I like Harry Nilsson's voice,
    it's very sensitive and gives more value to the songs. Harry Nilsson, I miss you very much.
  • Gary from Palatka, FlWhat a great tribute to Fred Neil. Even though Harry didn't write "Everybody's Talkin'" he did make it a great hit like he did "Without You".
    He wrote "I guess the lord must be in New York City" for Midnight Cowboy, but it was also denied by the director as "Lay Lady Lay" was.
    HELLO! Why isn't Harry in the rock & roll hall of fame?
    Gary Nilsson
    Palatka Fl.
  • Randy Lyken from Minneapolis, MnWithout You is my favorite Nilsson song but Everybodys Talking and Coconut were great too. They used the song Me And My Arrow to sell Plymouth Cars in the later 70s.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyHarry Nillson was know as a great songwriter, but his 2 biggest hits "Everybody's Talkin'" and "Without You" were written by someone else. "Without You was written by Badfinger's Pete Ham. Also, "I guess The Lord Must Be In New York City" was resurected for the movie "Cinderella Liberty".
  • Phillip O'brien from Detroit, MiI just love this song as I do "Midnight Cowboy"...some of the very best popular culture has to offer. The instrumentation goes so perfect with the lyrics and with the theme of the movie. I'm not a critic so I'll hold any further critical comment, but for those who love this song, a similiar sound and lyrical composition can be found in Echo and the Bunnymen's "What are you going to do with your Life" (I think from album of same title-I'm a huge early Bunnymen fan but lost track in the late 80's...this album is at least late 90's). By the way, 'not suggesting that Ian McCulloch was thinking about 'talkin' when he wrote it-at all! Anyway...happy trails!
  • Roger Smith from Oviedo, Fl"Nilsson originally issued as a single in 1968, it was pulled ...." isn't exactly true. It was released as a single from Nilsson's Aerial Ballet (not "Ariel Ballet") album, but didn't sell well. When Midnight Cowboy came out, the song was re-issued as a single.
  • Nick from Cambridge, EnglandThis was also covered by Beautiful South, and its not a bad version
  • Dave from Pomeroy, OhCovered by Jimmy Buffett On tales from Margaretiville
  • Rich from Elkins, WvFor some reason this song and "Come Monday" always seemed like they were cut from the same cloth..
  • Greg from Indianapolis, InEverybody's Talkin is a great song, but Harry Nilsson did not write it. It was written and performed by Fred Neil (recorded on his album in 1966) before Harry Nilsson covered it in 1968.
  • Chad from Orlando, FlThe words and melody to the verses in David Gray's "Babylon" sounds a lot like this
  • Charles from Charlotte, NcNilsson had a song he penned and recorded called "Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City" that he promoted for use in the film, but the producers said no thanks.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Billy Steinberg - "Like A Virgin"

Billy Steinberg - "Like A Virgin"They're Playing My Song

The first of Billy's five #1 hits was the song that propelled Madonna to stardom. You'd think that would get you a backstage pass, wouldn't you?

Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust

Lajon Witherspoon of SevendustSongwriter Interviews

The Sevendust frontman talks about the group's songwriting process, and how trips to the Murder Bar helped forge their latest album.

Steven Tyler of Aerosmith

Steven Tyler of AerosmithSongwriter Interviews

Tyler talks about his true love: songwriting. How he identifies the beauty in a melody and turns sorrow into art.

Have Mercy! It's Wolfman Jack

Have Mercy! It's Wolfman JackSong Writing

The story of the legendary lupine DJ through the songs he inspired.

Joe Jackson

Joe JacksonSongwriter Interviews

Joe talks about the challenges of of making a Duke Ellington tribute album, and tells the stories behind some of his hits.

How "A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss" Became Rock's Top Proverb

How "A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss" Became Rock's Top ProverbSong Writing

How a country weeper and a blues number made "rolling stone" the most popular phrase in rock.