Thursday, December 29, 2011

Paul Nelson

If you don't know who Paul Nelson is, do me a favor and pick up Kevin Avery's Bio/Retrospective on his work called Everything Is An Afterthought.
Nelson was one of the first of the major Rock critics.  Along with Dave Marsh, Greil Marcus, Robert Christgau, Ellen Willis (a book on her was also released this year, recommended) , Richard Meltzer, Paul Williams, Lester Bangs, Robert Palmer (the writer, not singer).  And some others I've missed.
Before writing for Rolling Stone, he mainly wrote about Folk Music.  But he had other passions beyond Rock.  He also loved movies.  And for 5 years in the early 70's was an A&R man Mercury Records, where he signed the New York Dolls.
All of this well documented in Avery's book.  But here's the kicker.  In the mid-90's, Nelson stopped writing about, well, everything.  No music or movie articles.  He got a job at video store in New York City and worked there pretty much until his death in 2006 at the age of 69.

There's a certain sadness in Nelson's tale.  Especially in the last decade of his life.   And it is this part of the book that I found most compelling.
Paul Nelson is somewhat overlooked when we talk about the early Rock Critic pioneers.  With this book, he finally gets long overdue recognition.
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