WARREN LEMING REMEMBERS PAUL NELSON
Paul Nelson, the music and film critic has died at 69 in New York - the city he loved.
I first encountered Paul in 1960 thru a subscription to his, and Jon Panakake's - Little Sandy Review; still the best of the folk journals that came into the world as the 60's got rolling. The Little Sandy came out of a backroom somewhere in Minneapolis, and without publicity - had a significant readership. The word of mouth on it was teriffic.
Paul stepped into the criticism game at a time when commercialism was everywhere, and the blues and folk roots of American music had been banished to the dusty confines of the Academy and the collector. All of that changed - and Paul helped bring that seachange into being.
Paul was a great help to Dylan, then Bob Zimmerman, and to Warren Zevon, Jackson Brown, and even the Velvet Underground. He had a great ear, and wrote a marvelous review of our band, Wilderness Road. Its still the best thing ever done on the Road.
Paul made his way to New York, and had a career there as a writer with Rolling Stone; as editor of Sing Out, and as a music and film critic whose work is still vital, readable, and prescient. He worked for a time at Mercury Records, and signed the New York Dolls.
He knew everybody, and loved New York's haunts, music dives, scenes, and scuttle butt. He paid a price for his integrity: he lived the last ten years of his life cut off from mainstream criticism-i.e. as the mags, and rags went corporate and pandering became a way of life- he found his stock had fallen with the trendies who often come to edit and deform what they themselves cannot describe.
He was there when "twas sweet in that dawn to be alive," and he makes his final bow at a time when criticism has been neutered where it is not undermined by the same forces that turned Paradise into a parking lot. We shall not see his like again.
coldchicagoco [AT] gmail [DOT] com
PAUL NELSON LINKS
Ron Oberman - IN MEMORIAM
Online Tributes to Paul Nelson
Rolling Stone - IN MEMORIAM
PAUL NELSON REVIEWS
Rolling Stone's SOME GIRLS
Bob Dylan's SHOT OF LOVE
Bruce Springsteen's THE RIVER
Willie Nelson's RED HEADED STRANGER
Bob Dylan and The Band's THE BASEMENT TAPES