This journal is dedicated to the life and writings of the critic Paul Nelson. Intended as a resource center, providing links to online material written both about Paul and by him, this site will also provide provide regular updates about my upcoming book, tentatively titled Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson.
For years I’d carried around the idea of collecting Paul’s writings under one cover. The book was still intended as an anthology when, over a year ago, I wrote to Paul and proposed that we work together to collect his best work. It had long been my belief that having his work relegated largely to back issues of sundry music magazines was a disservice not only to his fine writing but to his potential readers. Paul was touched by my proposal (as much an unabashed fan letter as it was a business proposition) and wanted to do the project — when he got feeling better.
Since his death last June, the book has taken on an added biographical dimension. Focusing on — but not limited to — those dozen or so artists whose work Paul returned to regularly during his career, Everything Is an Afterthought will also include little known background information about the pieces presented, including commentary by Paul’s friends, family, and many of the artists about whom he wrote.
If you’re not familiar with Paul Nelson or you want to learn more about this fascinating man’s history, follow the links under the heading About Paul Nelson. There you’ll find tales of his days both inside and outside the recording industry: including his Minnesota years, where he co-founded The Little Sandy Review and became friends with Bob Dylan; his five-year tenure at Mercury Records, where, among other things, he signed the New York Dolls to their first record contract, befriended Rod Stewart, promoted a young David Bowie, and wrangled Jerry Lee Lewis; and his five-year stint as record reviews editor at Rolling Stone.
As well, I’ll periodically add links under Paul Nelson’s Writings, samples of the work for which he’ll be most remembered.
But even that’s debatable. Because, despite all the varying versions of incidents and timelines that I’ve encountered in interviewing over 70 of his friends, family, and colleagues, one thing remains constant: Paul Nelson the man. He’s remembered almost universally as someone who, despite his idiosyncrasies, was kind and gentle and a loyal friend. That he spent the last twenty years of his life withdrawing from almost everyone is accepted by those who knew him best. There is understanding in their not understanding.
I’ll regularly post here as the book progresses and alert you as new links are added. Comments and questions are encouraged. My hope is that, in addition to creating an ongoing dialogue about the man, his work, and his legacy, Paul Nelson’s writing will finally receive the recognition and the wider audience it deserves.
Copyright 2007 by Kevin Avery. All rights reserved.