I jut started the new biography and collected writings of the late rock critic Paul Nelson. It’s a book I both fear and desperately want to read.
The book, Everything Is An Afterthought, is a labor of love by a writer named Kevin Avery, and by extension, from the many friends Paul Nelson had – Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, the late Warren Zevon.
Nelson was a first rate critic in the golden age of rock writing; he was part of the Lester Bangs/Greil Marcus/Dave Marsh/Ed Ward/Bud Scoppa/Jon Landau continuum. And then he stopped writing, and his life dissolved into bad days that stretched into weeks and months and years.
Early on, Avery writes of the notes found in Nelson’s apartment after he died, things like “I need some meals and I got $2.” He was as forgotten as it gets.
If you’re like me, in his mid-50s and who came up reading about rock as much as listening to it, these writers profoundly shaped your life. And I wonder how many of us are out there, haunted by the special knowledge these men imparted, wondering if we are blessed or doomed, and knowing time and chance happens to us all.