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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Happy Birthday, Clint

Today is Clint Eastwood's eighty-first birthday. Back when Paul Nelson began his first round of interviews with the actor-director, Clint was forty-nine and Paul was forty-three. I'm very pleased that, more than thirty years down the road, these interviews are finally going to see the light of day.

Pop Culture Vultures

This Malaysian review of Neil Strauss's Everyone Loves You When You're Dead ties the book's significance and sincerity to--you guessed it--Paul Nelson:

Whatever doubts one has in the author’s motives for the book is dispelled by his piece on a predecessor: former Rolling Stone record reviews editor Paul Nelson (1936–2006). Strauss admits that it was hard to pen, and not just because of his respect for the late Nelson and the people who would read it. “Every word brought me closer to my own cautionary tale – or that of any writer, creative person, or dedicated follower of art, entertainment, or culture. Because it makes you ask: In the end, is it worth it?”

Probably not for Nelson. The man who’d done so much for the likes of Bob Dylan and Rod Stewart died alone and broke. A pair of baby shoes that belonged to Nelson’s son, found hanging near his bed, still haunts Strauss: “... because as someone who’s sacrificed personal relationships for the pursuit of culture and career, I know what (those shoes) symbolize: the regret of someone who has spent his entire life with his priorities wrong.” I could say the same about many of today’s pop culture vultures.

It's totally wrongheaded to compare Paul (who, as an aside, was not broke when he passed away) to "many of today's pop culture vultures." He never wrote about something simply because it was popular; it had to have some meaning--or some significant lack of meaning--for him to subject himself to the often painful process required to write about it.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid Redux

As a follow-up to my earlier post about this film (which Paul thought was "wrongly underrated"), this is what he had written vertically across the first page of his notes:

The most mythic music I know:
music for marriage and funerals

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

PN Quoted in UK's Daily Record

"In The Rolling Stone Illustrated History Of Rock & Roll, Paul Nelson wrote: 'In the mid-60s, Dylan's talent evoked such an intense degree of personal participation from admirers and detractors that he could not be permitted so much as a random action.

"'The world used to follow him around, just waiting for him to drop a cigarette butt. When he did, they'd sift through the remains, looking for significance. The scary part is they'd find it - and it really would be significant.'"

Click here to read the entire article.

Paul's entire piece appears in Everything Is an Afterthought, being published this November.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bob

What better way to celebrate Bob Dylan's seventieth birthday than to go back and read three of Paul Nelson's writings about his old pal's work? Simply click on the title beneath each album cover to access the reviews.

"That smiling face on the cover tells all—and isn't it wonderful?"

The Basement Tapes, 1975
Paul's review basically served as a rough draft for his classic 
6,400-word essay "Bob Dylan," which appears in 
Everything Is an Afterthought.

Shot of Love, 1981
"To know him is to love him, as they say, 
and it's pretty difficult to do either these days."

Cap off your Bob Dylan-Paul Nelson  experience with this great little ditty that Loudon Wainwright III performed on NPR twenty years ago today—on the occasion of Dylan's fiftieth birthday.

"Talking New Bob Dylan"

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

Late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning, Deb and I returned home from almost a week in Asheville, North Carolina. For most of the trip we stayed at the Grove Park Inn, a retreat for F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1935 and 1936, and not far from the sanatorium where, in 1948, Zelda Fitzgerald perished in a fire. All of which, of course, reminded me of Paul Nelson, who adored The Great Gatsby.

Anyway, when I finally crawled into bed at around 2:30 or so, I turned on Turner Classic Movies and discovered that Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid was about halfway over. And of course, what with Dylan playing a role in the film and providing the soundtrack, thoughts once again turned to Paul.

The next day, I pulled out his notes from 1973 for (to the best of my knowledge) an unfinished review of the film. He had a particular fascination with the Pat and Billy mythology and often referred to it in his writings.

Later in his notes, he wrote: "James Dean is Billy: Marlon Brando, Garrett. When James Dean died, I resolved to take his place (as in Jackson Browne's song). Now I don't want to be James Dean anymore, but I don't want to be Marlon Brando, either."

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Welcome to

In the coming months, this site will count down the publication of my first two books, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson and Conversations with Clint: Paul Nelson's Lost Interviews with Clint Eastwood. The first book took me four years to research and write, whereas the second one took a little less than a year. Thanks to the vagaries of publishing, it appears that the second book is going to be published before the first.

Because the fine writer Paul Nelson is at the heart of both of them, he'll undoubtedly be a frequent topic of conversation here. Over thirty-five years have passed since I first read his work, and my goal remains the same as it did from the inception of book one: to reintroduce his writing to the culture and make sure it stays there.

"You can't research to get a book," Robert Penn Warren wrote. "You stumble on it, or hope to. Maybe you will, if you live right."

I must live right because it's happened twice in a row.

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