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Monday 20th September 2010. 2 : 00 pm
Bill Nelson Diary Entry: Monday 20th September 2010 Morning
Where to start? These long gaps in my online diary make catching up a laborious task. I really ought to write regular (and shorter) entries but, as usual, I'm constantly distracted by endless 'other things.' Sooner or later, the urge to communicate catches up, but then I sit in front of a blank screen dreading the task and resenting the way that it drags me away from music-making. And since my last diary entry I seem to have been making more music than ever.
There are now four new albums completed, a fifth album two-thirds completed, and a sixth album half-finished. Their titles are: 'Modern Moods For Mighty Atoms;' 'Fables And Dreamsongs;' 'Captain Future's Psychotronic Circus;' 'The Last Of The Neon Cynics;' 'Model Village' and 'Lampdownlowland.' All with their own identity and all beyond logic or reason.
Of course, inspiration knows no reason, nor is it a polite guest. It suddenly appears at the door, forces entry and eats everything in the house, including precious hours ticking desperately away on the dial of the clock, along with anything that might remotely resemble a normal life.
Normal life? An interesting concept. I wonder what a normal life consists of...No such thing exists, I suspect. 'Normal'= a Chimera, an illusion, a wishful thought unfulfilled, a lifestyle product sold to us by our corporate masters, a concept forced upon us by our society's containment officers. In other words, another sly trick of Church, State and Industry.
Best keep our wits about us and a sense of humour to hand.
So, ok...here's an attempt at a brief summary of my day to day existence since last writing:
Have been discussing a licensing deal with Cherry Red Records' 'Esoteric' label with regard to re-issuing more than a few of my out-of-print back catalogue albums. The plan is to first of all put together a six cd compilation set that will feature various tracks from right across my almost 40 year recording career. Then there will be a systematic re-issue programme of individual albums over a fixed period of time. Amongst these re-issues will be the 'Noise Candy' box set. The company that originally released it for me, (Lenin Imports,) have never properly accounted to me for sales and copies apparently now sell on e-bay for hundreds of pounds.
With that in mind, it will be good to have Noise Candy available via a proper label at a sensible price, and, hopefully, to see a little benefit for myself after all this time, especially considering the tremendous effort I put into creating the music and the packaging in the first place.
Ongoing work with EMI's Be Bop Deluxe re-issue compilation too, 'though it seems that the idea of an actual 'box' is no longer in the frame. Abandoned along with my suggestion to have the individual albums packaged in card replicas of the original album's sleeves. Too expensive apparently.
It now looks as if it will end up being packaged as a three or four multi-cd jewel case. I'm still hoping that the company will agree to have an extra cd dedicated to compiling rare or unreleased tracks as a bonus.
I actually mixed some unreleased live tracks at Fairview studio for the project a few years back, (when Mark Powell was at the helm,) but I've recently been told that EMI can't locate these mixes. I've made enquiries of John Spence and, luckily, he thinks that they're still on file in Fairview Studio's mix-computer, so I'll arrange for new masters to be created and sent to EMI, hopefully to be included as part of the set. But we'll see...space may be at a premium.
Glanced back at my previous diary entry. It reads like a breathless, flushed schoolboy after attending his first rock concert. But this is how meeting Duane Eddy affected me, sent me reeling back through the years, spinning dizzy on the dial, all the way back to an eleven year old 'eureka' moment. I've since slowly returned to earth and to the present. It all felt rather unreal. If it wasn't for the photographs, I would swear I'd dreamt every moment of it.
However, dreaming or not, it seems that I've been invited to attend Duane's Royal Festival Hall concert next month. I'll probably become inarticulate and schoolboy-like yet again. (And Duane is going to be playing here in York too...)
I received an email from Reeves Gabrels a couple of days ago. Haven't heard from him in ages though I've often thought about him. We once discussed recording together but our individual schedules got in the way. Well, Reeves enquired if I'd still fancy it and, of course, I'd fancy it very much. In my opinion, he's one of the most inventive and intelligent rock guitarists on the planet. But what he will make of my uneducated smoke and mirrors leaps in the dark I have no idea...I just hope he's possessed of a forgiving nature. (And lots of patience.) We're thinking about getting to grips sometime in 2011.
Nelsonica is rushing up at light speed and it feels as if I've been in a state of panic for months now. Not that I've got any of it under control. Still so much to prepare, particularly if I'm to have the three live performances ready in time. Have yet to decide on my choices of material, then write out lyrics and arrangements, learn the songs in basic form at home before rehearsing them with the full equipment during the week before the event. Lots of guitars to prepare too, some adjustments needed and general setups. This is very time consuming.
I've decided to move my solo set to the second day of the event. It was originally supposed to be part of the first day, but three completely different sets in one evening, all of which require me to be highly active was, I think, asking rather a lot of myself, especially as I'm the sort of chap who has more or less given up on live performances altogether. Anyway, much more sensible to shunt one of the sets to day 2...and so that is what we've decided will happen.
Day one will feature the Orchestra Futura trio and the 7-piece 'Gentleman Rocketeers' set. Day 2 will feature my solo set along with various other regular Nelsonica presentations. Speaking of which...
Today, I completed the decoration of two Eastwood 'Breadwinner' guitars. It's taken me a while to do this but they are now finally finished. One of these guitars will go up for auction at Nelsonica. The other is for Mike Robinson, commander in chief at Eastwood Guitars. Mike has very generously donated the auction guitar to the event. He actually sent me these two 'Breadwinner' guitars a while back and asked if I'd decorate one of them for himself. Well, yes, of course!
I'm going to let Mike choose which one he'd like to keep for his private collection and the other one will go into the Nelsonica auction. Having said that, Mike's choice won't be an easy one...I've decorated each guitar with the same care but themed them differently. One is titled 'The Alchemical Guitar Of Sailor Bill' and I've given it a nautical/seashore style with real seashells glued to it and a drawing of a steamship and a lighthouse. (And other details).
The other guitar is titled 'Twanglomino Mysterioso-An Illuminati Guitar.' This one features an esoteric 'eye-in-a-triangle' design and Dr. John Dee's mysterious 'Monad' symbol. (He was court astrologer to Elizabeth the first and a ceremonial magical practioner.) Both guitars have artificial jewels and rhinestones glued onto them and will look rather nice hung on someone's wall. (See photographs attached to this diary entry.) Both are fragile though so will need careful handling.
Still to create for Nelsonica: artwork to auction, the hand made DVDr for every attendee, the guitar exhibition and some onstage special presentations. I have managed to record a 22 minute long instrumental titled 'Past And Present And The Space Between' which will be premiered at Nelsonica as an opening piece on one of the days. No time to create a video for this, unfortunately.
There's a possibility that I might not hold a Nelsonica Convention next year. I need to free up some time for future projects...the event does occupy an extraordinary amount of my attention throughout the year and tends to limit other activities. (I've even considered making number 10 the last one completely.) But, we'll see...
A surprising email from 'Classic Rock' magazine asking if I'd like to review two re-issued King Crimson albums for the magazine. These albums are part of a 40th anniversary King Crimson re-release project.
I accepted and have written a review of 'In The Wake Of Poseidon' and 'Islands,' albums which, despite buying 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' back in 1969, I'd not heard until now. It proved an interesting and informative experience. I've always had the utmost respect for Robert Fripp's considerable talents and, as you dear reader may already know, this very Hyperdreamer's diary owes its existence to him. (It was Robert who first suggested to me that I should write an online diary, a good few years ago now.)
Reviewing those early King Crimson albums for 'Classic Rock' magazine was somewhat daunting. A lot of music to listen to, plenty to take in, and of course, a professional deadline to get my copy in to the magazine. I was asked to write approx 370 words but the finished review ended up being over 1,000, even though I did attempt to cut it down from a much higher word count. (Well, there was rather a lot to write about.) Thankfully, the magazine were very kind and didn't insist that I cut it down even more, so the full piece will appear in a future issue of the magazine.
My friend Clive English surprised me a couple of weeks ago when I met him at Steve Cook's hair salon near Halifax. I was there to have Steve search my head for anything that might be worthy of submitting to his talented scissors when Clive walked through the door. Clive plays guitar and, at odd times in the past has done a bit of guitar tech work for me. He travelled with me in that capacity to Mexico City when Harold Budd and I were engaged to give a concert there, quite a few years ago now. Unfortunately, the concert was pulled due to promoter problems so we just ended up drifting around Mexico City for a week, taking in several art galleries and an occasional cantina or two. Or three.
Anyway, back to Steve's salon: Clive and I got talking about guitars, as guitarists predictably do, and it turned out that Clive had bought a rather expensive digital guitar processor that had been intriguing me for some time. It's called a 'Fractal Axe-Fx.' I felt rather jealous as the device was somewhat out of my own reach, (budget-wise,) but Clive very kindly offered to let me borrow it to see what I thought.
At first, I wasn't entirely convinced that it was a 'must-have' item but must now admit to not really wanting to give it back to him. It's a very clever and complex device but one which, given time, I feel I could explore and use to my musical advantage.
Having said that, there are several pressing problems regarding the maintainance and upkeep of our home, problems that require the application of a serious amount of money if they are not to drift beyond the point of no repair. The sensible thing would be to deal with these problems before the entire place crumbles from lack of care, rather than buy new musical equipment for my studio. (Although I suppose I could always just sit amongst the ruins of the house and play my guitar through an Axe-Fx.)
Volume One of my autobiography, (titled 'Painted From Memory-Recollections Of A Radiant Childhood,') is almost ready for the printers. Cover art completed, photographs chosen, all carefully captioned and sequenced. (Over 80 of them.) A proof copy to be ordered first, then, if all's well, a proper print run will go ahead. It's taken ages to get it to this stage, mainly because I haven't found time to keep hammering away at the writing of it. Started the book several years ago, then didn't touch it for ages. When I did eventually return to it, I revised long sections of it as I'd uncovered further bits of information regarding my childhood.
Volume One runs from the 1940s to the early 1960s. Volume Two, (if I ever get time to write it,) will continue from there to the end of the 1970s, or maybe a little further depending upon how much I can recall...the '70s are something of a blur, I'm afraid. (Or am I just blanking them out?)
A rather melancholy but meaningful special event next month. For some time now, my mother and I have wanted to commision a public bench dedicated to the memory of my brother Ian who sadly passed away four years ago in 2006. Mum and I have often discussed where such a bench might be located. One possibility was Wakefield Park, a place that holds memories for the Nelson family, memories that go way back. (I have photographs of my mother and father that were taken there before I was born.)
Another possible location for the bench was the Yorkshire Sculpture Park where Ian worked for several years. He was first employed in the on-site shop but eventually found himself working in the main office and involved in the complex day-to-day affairs of the park. He became a valued member of staff and very much enjoyed his time there. I used to drive over to Wakefield and meet him for lunch. We'd often go to a nearby pub called 'The Station' and enjoy a sandwich and a pint whilst feeding the jukebox with coins. I recall him selecting 'Kid Creole' by Elvis Presley which was, I thought, an unusual choice for a younger brother as I'd presumed that the rock n' roll era would be more meaningful to my generation than Ian's.
These lunch meetings were always warm, funny and enjoyable. We shared a brotherly camaraderie, a rapport we'd found in childhood, even though, like all brothers, we had our occasional moments of sibling rivalry.
When Emi first came to England to share my life with me, I took her to meet Ian at the sculpture park. I was very proud of her and also of Ian so introducing them at the sculture park was a special moment for me. (I have a photograph somewhere of that first meeting.)
Occasionally, celebrity guests or artists would visit the sculpture park. I was there with Ian when Toyah and her husband Robert Fripp visited. I also remember Ian telling me about George Melly's visit. Apparently, Ian was delegated to collect George from Wakefield railway station and drive him to the sculpture park. George Melly was, Ian told me, an extremely amusing chap.
So, Mum and I decided that the sculpture park might be the best location for a bench dedicated to Ian's memory. Mum made preliminary enquiries with Ian's sister-in-law Angie who is now a curator at the sculpture park and Peter Murray, the park's director and founder, (who was also my fine art painting tutor at Wakefield Art School during the mid-'sixties,) suggested that the Yorkshire Sculpture Park itself might like to collaborate with the Nelson Family to provide a memorial bench for Ian. So, that is what will happen. It will be a private, invitation only dedication for family, close friends and colleagues, but once the bench is in place, anyone visiting YSP will be able to find it. I will post details of its location after the bench has been officially dedicated so that fans who wish to will be able to sit there and perhaps spare a moment or two to remember Ian. I think this is a generous gesture from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and my mother and myself are extremely grateful to Peter and Angie for their kindness.
Emiko and I attended another memorial event last week. This was in honour of the late husband of a good friend of ours. That friend is Kyoko Wainai, someone I've known since Emiko and I have been together. Kyoko is an old friend of Emi's and was married to Japanese actor Eiji Kusuhara who had appeared in films by Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch and Mike Leigh, amongst others. Sadly, Eiji passed away in the spring of this year after a long battle with cancer. He spent the last months of his life in Japan where he had been receiving treatment for his illness, although he and Kyoko have lived in London for many years.
Kyoko spent a few days staying with us after she returned from Japan where Eiji's funeral was held. It's always painful to see friends suffer a bereavement and Kyoko was hit hard by the loss of her husband. Emiko and I did what we could to help, but, obviously, it's never enough in these sort of circumstances.
Last weekend's tribute to Eiji was held at a Japanese restaurant in the Grays Inn Road in London and Emi and I travelled down by train to attend. Lots of film people there and other creative folks, both English and Japanese. Nice to meet up with fashion designer Michiko Koshino again who we hadn't seen for some years. She too is a good friend of Emiko and Kyoko. I recall a very funny and somewhat inebriated evening spent with Emiko, Michiko and Mika, (one time vocalist of 'The Sadistic Mika Band,') in a restaurant in Tokyo, when I lived in Japan briefly during the early 1990's. (Imagine one English guy speaking very little Japanese sitting around a low table with three increasingly tipsy Japanese women, all of whom were in 'good time' mode. Very enjoyable!)
Eiji's tribute included a film compilation of his work, including tv, commercials, voice overs and theatre stuff. I had no idea he'd been so versatile. It was a nice afternoon with moving speeches from several people. Very emotional for everyone there.
I've been in the wars a little of late. Just over a week ago, I started with what felt like the first cold of the season. Woke up with a sore throat and that shivery, burning wind-pipe sensation that often signals a virus in one's system. This developed into some sort of chest infection which lasted only three or four days but left me feeling weak and tired. Now Emiko seems to have caught it but is much worse than I was. She has developed a very nasty cough and spent all of yesterday in bed. If she hasn't improved by tomorrow, I'm taking her to the doctor.
Whilst suffering with my own cold, I added to my discomfort by accidentally hitting my head on the sharp edge of a shelf in the hall. I'd bent down to unplug something from an electrical socket and when I stood up the sharp corner of the shelf cut into my scalp with a fair amount of force. There's not a lot of hair on top these days and the skin of one's scalp is quite thin.The resulting gash was rather nasty and extremely painful. I seem more prone to accidents of this type than ever. I'm convinced it's down to the onset of some sort of age-related debility. Or maybe just sheer, stupid clumsiness.
But our cat Django hasn't been well either. Had him to the vet's last week. He's not been eating, seemed slow, tired and lethargic and slept most of the time. The vet gave him an anti-biotic and an anti-inflammatory injection as his throat seemed a little inflamed. He perked up a little not long after but has not maintained the improvement as much as we'd hoped. Still doesn't seem quite his usual self. I may have to take him back to the vet's if things don't improve.
As always, there's lots more to tell than I have time or energy to spare to tell it, so this modest entry will have to suffice.
Reading-wise, it's been the Ken Russell biography and Nat Hentoff's wonderful, 'At The Jazz Band Ball.' The latter was sent to me by a very kind fan in America called Robert. He was the person who showed Les Paul the signature Nelsonic Transitone guitar and who sent me the autograph and message from Les, not long before Les passed away. He's recently sent me a signed message from legendary jazz guitarist Jim Hall and a personally signed album and note from Laurie Anderson too.
Not much time available for relaxing but watched Terence Davies' 'Of Time And The City' on DVD again the other night. Still wonderful! I love his work.
Also managed to watch the film adaptation of 'The Time Traveller's Wife.' I adored the book and expected the film to be something of a compromise, which, to some degree it was, but I enjoyed it and thought it attempted to respect the book and didn't destroy the intimacy of its main characters. Nicely photographed and acted too.
As always, calling my mother twice a day and making regular visits to her in Wakefield. We're still dealing with the final details of the two and a half year long struggle to protect her from the problems left by her late husband's will but it is finally coming to its conclusion now. Just a few things to sign off and formalise.
Music-wise, I haven't had time to listen to much other than my own works in progress...and only then because I'm physically engaged in giving them birth. What little music I have heard has been ancient or vintage...and none of it rock. A little Elgar and Vaughan Williams and Faure. Easy listening stuff, I suppose. Also some 1940's and '50s swing and jazz. My usual refuge in times of stress. Nothing too demanding, just warm, uplifting and heartfelt. I'm waiting for contemporary music to get over its fixation with either 'experimentation' (more like regurgitation,) or pop-rock predictability. I may be waiting for some time. Both sides of the coin devalued beyond my need to purchase. But then I'm a jaded old so and so. Not quite beyond redemption yet though.
As always, back to work...
Images accompanying this diary entry are as follows:
1: An ad for 'Modern Moods For Mighty Atoms.'
2: Front cover image for 'Model Village.'
3: The two Eastwood Breadwinner guitars decorated by Bill.
4: The 'Sailor Bill' guitar decorated by Bill.
5: The 'Twanglomino Mysterioso' guitar decorated by Bill.
6: Django the cat, photographed by Bill 20-Sept-2010