On 31 January 2002, almost a dozen years since I’d last seen anything published by Paul Nelson, I posted a public query to the Elliott Murphy mailing list:
Does anybody know what ever happened to rock critic Paul Nelson?
Within the hour, some kind soul directed me to rockcritics.com. Almost two years earlier, in March of 2000, the website had published an extensive interview with the elusive critic. Written by Steven Ward, a staff writer for The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the article was appropriately titled “What Ever Happened to Rock Critic Paul Nelson?”
“I never heard of Paul Nelson until 1990,” Ward remembered last year. “I was 22 and a friend had given me a Christmas present â€” a prized possession then and now. The present was Kurt Loder’s Bat Chain Puller, a book collection of my favorite music writer’s articles from Rolling Stone.” In the acknowledgments, among the many individuals Loder thanked, was “the legendary Paul Nelson.” “So I immediately hit my college library, attacked the microfilm machine, and started looking through old issues of Rolling Stone. I started reading everything Nelson had written. It was unbelievable stuff â€” especially his long cover feature on Warren Zevon from the early Eighties that zeroed in on the songwriter’s demons with alcohol.”
Ward made a promise to himself to track down Paul Nelson â€” something that wouldn’t happen until late 1999.
The resultant interview marked the first of what has become, thanks to the Canadian music writer Scott Woods, rockcritics.com, a treasure trove of articles and interviews devoted to critics (not all of them rock & roll). And Steven Ward’s piece stands as the definitive Paul Nelson interview.
Everything Is an Afterthought draws from subsequent, previously unpublished interview material with Paul to explore the many whats and whys raised by Ward’s excellent article.
Copyright 2007 by Kevin Avery. All rights reserved.