Back when I first approached Paul Nelson about our working together to anthologize his best writing â€” before I knew whether or not he was interested in the project or whether he’d even received my proposal â€” I’d imagine the two of us sitting across a table, working long into his beloved night while we agreeably disagree which pieces to include and which ones to set aside for perhaps a different collection.
When Paul died, over a year ago now, leaving me to decide which pieces qualified as his best, I knew of less than 100 of his articles, reviews, and essays. Now I’ve collected more than three times that many, making the decision that much more difficult.
One thing was sure from the start, however: that my book would contain all of Paul’s writings about Jackson Browne. Arguably more than any other artist about whose work he wrote, the pieces Paul penned about Browne and his music are among his most passionate, his most autobiographical. He wrote as if he completely understood Browne â€” because Browne seemingly completely understood him.
Paul’s review of Running on Empty is available online. Along with everything else he wrote about Browne (including some previously unpublished material), it will be included in Everything Is an Afterthought.
When I interviewed Browne early this year, he had this to say about Paul: “I was always very grateful that he wrote what he wrote; and I don’t want to give it a name or diminish it by encapsulating it with some sort of description of what that was. But it made me feel that I was being received, that I was being heard, by people who really got it.”
Indeed he was.
Copyright 2007 by Kevin Avery. All rights reserved.