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4/23/07 11:06 am - chidder - Everything Is an Afterthought

I recently sold my first book. In conjunction, I've established another LiveJournal to report on the project's progress, occasionally provide links about, and writings by, its subject, Paul Nelson (famous for his Rolling Stone reviews of Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, the Sex Pistols, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, and the Ramones, as well as his cover story about Warren Zevon's battle with alcoholism), and share snippets of information or parts of interviews that may or may not be covered further in the final product.

The new journal shares the book's working title, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. Just follow the link.

Anybody interested in learning more about this brilliant critic, whose own life proved just as mysterious and fascinating as the artists' about whom he wrote, is welcome to join. As well, tracking the process of how a book goes from sale to publication should prove interesting. I'm rather curious about that part myself...

9/22/06 05:28 pm - chidder - Dylan 1991 Revisited

I'm not sure how so many years got by without my having seen this. I was alerted to it by a fine piece, "Why We Keep on Rolling With Dylan" (basically an onstage dialogue between critic Greil Marcus and novelist Don DeLillo), that appeared last month in The Daily Telegraph in the UK.

"In 1991, Bob Dylan was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammy show," Marcus explains. "They now hand these out very promiscuously, but this was unusual at the time -- it was a big deal. So Dylan comes on with a very noisy, loud, small band, all dressed in dark suits with fedoras pulled down over their heads. And they go into the most furious, unrelenting, speeded-up piece of music.

"And Dylan is slurring his words, you cannot understand what he's saying, but you don't need to. The sound that's being made is so thrilling. And about halfway through, at least for me -- other people might have caught on more quickly, maybe later -- I realised he was singing 'Masters of War.' His most unforgiving, bitter, unlimited denunciation that he's ever recorded. It's a song about arms merchants. It ends with 'And I hope that you die, I'll stand over your grave, I'll follow your coffin.'

"Not too many songs really wish for the death of the subject, the person who's being addressed. Then he gave a little speech after his award, where he managed not to thank anybody."

Essential viewing for anyone interested in Dylanography.

7/12/06 11:18 pm - chidder - Paul Nelson

Paul Nelson in No Direction Home 

I make lists. Before I moved to New York at the end of last year, I crafted a personal and professional to-do list. One item appeared near the top of both lists: reach out to critic Paul Nelson and let him know how much his work had meant to me. His writings, mostly for Rolling Stone and mostly about music (though occasionally movies and books, about which he was equally qualified to write), helped form what still stand today as my tastes in music, literature, and film. He not only made me want to be a critic, which I did for ten years, he made me want to write about music in a bigger context than just something that plays in the background or fills up the space between commercials on radio. 

Music mattered to Nelson and, if he thought an album worthy, he wanted it to matter to you, too.

Here was a man who was equally conversant writing about Raymond Chandler's hard-boiled detective fiction, the failed romanticism of F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby, the great heart that beat at the center of Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, and the magnificence of the Sex Pistols -- sometimes all within the same piece. He was instrumental in championing the early works of Warren Zevon, Jackson Browne, Rod Stewart, Elliott Murphy, and David Johansen, to name just a few of the artists who benefited from his critical eye. 

During his stint as an A&R man, he got the New York Dolls their record deal. He also went to college with Bob Dylan, and ardently and elegantly defended the singer/songwriter when he went electric. Forty years later, Martin Scorsese included Nelson in his Dylan documentary No Direction Home.

I wrote to Paul Nelson in February, in care of the Greenwich Village video store where he worked, but never received a response. Last month, when my best friend Ellis was in town, we happened into that video store one rainy Wednesday afternoon. I asked the kid behind the desk if Paul Nelson was around. "He hasn't worked here in about a year," he said. "But he stops in now and then." I left not knowing whether or not Nelson had ever received my letter.

Until yesterday afternoon, when I received a phone call from a gentleman who identified himself as Paul Nelson's friend. "I don't know if you know this or not, but Paul's body was found in his apartment last week." He told me that Nelson, who was 70 and whose obituary appeared in The New York Times on Monday, had indeed received my letter and that it had touched him. 

Paul Nelson was a brilliant writer who did for music criticism what Pauline Kael did for film criticism: he blew it apart and demanded more not only from the works he critiqued but of the forum in which he critiqued them. While well more than a decade has passed since his writing last saw print, tonight I find myself missing him and his work more than ever. 

To discover for yourself just how good a writer Nelson was, check out his reviews of the first Ramones album, Neil Young's Rust Never Sleeps, Jackson Browne's Running on Empty, and his masterpiece, the feature-length article "Warren Zevon: How He Saved Himself from a Coward's Death."

Photograph: Paramount Pictures


5/29/06 10:31 pm - xhippiesocks

Hi i just made a forum dedicated to bob dylan and joan baez please come and join
http://dylanandbaez.proboards76.com/index.cgi thx :)

5/5/06 08:51 am - chidder - Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind

Interesting community you have here. I thought you might be interested in a review of Time Out of Mind that I posted this morning over at my blog Mere Words. Enjoy.

11/13/04 10:59 pm - kick_em_out

There is a lyric from the Jethro Tull song Cross Eyed Mary which goes;

Or maybe her attention is drawn by aqualung,
Who watches through the railings as they play

It always chilled me a bit. But one of my more chilling moments came when listening to the song during the aftermath of the whole Pete Townsand child porn scandal and suddenly, for me it was poor Pete's face peering lecherously throught those railings rather than the fictionalized and embellished Aqualung. But it was only for research right?

Anyway, I think that J-Tull/Ian Anderson is one of the best artists when it comes to visual evocation. They are masters of it and they know it. Perportedly Ian Anderson was quoted as having said that Led Zeppelin would have been a hell of a lot better with Anderson himself, writing lyrics and Page playing guitar; A comment that allegedly pissed off Robert Plant to no end. Sorry Robert, I love you and Zep is my all time favorite but your lyrics are nothing compared to Anderson's. What mystical, fantastical beauty is evoked in Thick as a Brick, what deprived horror in Locomotive Breath.

And truly underappreciated.

But on a funny note. Once in a Bible literature class in highschool, the teacher while lecturing on Moses and his father-in-law Jethro, made joking reference to Aqualung. I appreciated this, it being one of my favorite albums. Unfortunatly, much of the rest of the class missed the reference as became clear during finals review when one of the girls raised her hand and confusedly asked where she could find the character "Aqualung" in the book of Exodus. True story.

Actually it was in Genesis. Cain begat Methuselah, begat Aqualung, begat Keith Richards.

11/11/04 12:56 am - lefter

The kinks are just a bad rip on the beatles. That is all there is to it.
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