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William's Study (Diary Of A Hyperdreamer)
December 2007

 

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Monday 24th December 2007. 10 : 00 pm

BILL NELSON DIARY ENTRY: CHRISTMAS EVE 2007. EVENING.

Some sad developments since my previous diary entry but I'll refrain from documenting them here and now. These things, because they are painful and difficult, must wait for a while.So...maybe next time? Well...next time. might be more sensible.
But, tonight it is Christmas Eve and some light, no matter how feeble or flickering, should shine on my readers, no matter how dark my own corner of the universe might appear from this current vantage point.

Zipping back in time a few weeks: Emiko and I had a lovely night out, at the start of this month, with the Nelsonica team at a favourite restaurant of ours in the city of York. It was the occasion of the annual Nelsonica 'thank you' dinner, a chance for us all to spend time in each other's company and enjoy a relaxing evening after the complex demands of this year's fan convention.
It was also an opportunity for the team to observe their (hopefully still) esteemed hero lowering his less than inpenetrable defences and succumbing to the dubious charms of Bacchus. Which simply means that I allowed myself to become more and more hopelessly and joyfully inebriated as the evening progressed. (Oh, vine-adorned Lord of the grape, forgive me, for I know EXACTLY what I do, and more's the pity.)

As a modest token of thanks, I gave each member of the team an individually burned cdr of some brand new material that I'm considering for inclusion on my next album, 'SILVERTONE FOUNTAINS.'
It's still, inevitably, a work in progress but this preliminary cdr has at least allowed them a glimpse of the ongoing process. I'm hoping to have the final track-listing completed in time for a late February release although this is entirely dependent upon me feeling that the album has reached its natural conclusion. Things could yet change quite dramatically as the music, and my imagination, is perpetually in flux.

Frustratingly, during the last week or two, I've created three totally new instrumentals, all three of which are more than good enough to be considered as potential tracks for the album, (alongside the 16 tunes already on the short list.)
So, the project is growing, changing, slowly finding its way to its final conclusion. To saddle it with a contemporary cliche: It's an organic, ongoing process. All I can do is act as midwife.

Some of the tracks will inevitably be set aside, probably for inclusion on next year's limited edition fan-convention album, whilst others will stay, (provided they belong to the 'Silvertone Fountains' atmosphere.)

As always, I'm more enthused about the latest pieces than the earlier ones. Despite the chopping and changing, (or even because of it,) the album will, I think, turn out to be a very nice work. No, let's allow no false modesty, it will be a BEAUTIFUL work!

Not long after the Nelsonica dinner, I succumbed to a nasty cold virus that has only now, two weeks later, begun to fade. Emi caught it too, (as I predicted,) and she's had some uncomfortable nights, coughing and coughing and feeling totally wretched. This time of year is always busy for Emi and it's not the best time for her to feel ill. Not that there's ever a best time to feel ill.

Despite the debilitating bugs, I have managed to deal with the Christmas shopping demands...at least to a standard that won't leave me feeling totally embarrased and inadequate. O.k...perhaps not QUITE as focussed as last year but, hopefully, not really letting anyone down. As mentioned in earlier diary entries, I do tend to take an inordinate amount of time searching for what I feel are the most appropriate gifts for my family and friends. I take a personal pride in this and get quite frustrated by having to make snap decisions because of lack of time.

Unfortunately, despite all best intentions, time and circumstances have been against me, and more than ever this year.
Predictably and pathetically, like many people of my generation, I'm beginning to wonder whether the original spirit of Christmas has finally been buried under the icy avalanche of commerce. The festive season seems to have become more and more stressful (and artificial) with each passing year. Yes, I know that such an opinion is regarded as a cliche and I also accept that it's probably always been that way, (despite those fantasy snow powdered dreamy Christmases of my first ten years on this earth...) But, what the heck. I STILL expect the impossible. I demand miracles and magic. But my life has already had more than its fair share of that.
Anyway, shopping done, food in the fridge and freezer, lights lit in the lounge, gifts awaiting my fumbling at the wrapping paper. (And I must turn my attention to this last task SOON.)

Still I sneak away from it all, up here to the broom cupboard that I'm audacious enough to call 'my studio,' to pick up a guitar and play. Plink, plonk, plink, strum, twang...Not for any great purpose, not for the 'latest' album or an adoring, paying audience, but simply because picking up the instrument, cradling it against my chest, feeling it resonate, hum and sing beneath my fingers, is the most satisfying, rewarding, and honest expression of being alive that I can muster. I pick up a guitar for no other reaon than the sheer JOY of doing so.
Appears sad and pathetic written down like that, doesn't it? Well, dear reader, let me assure you that it's NOT. In fact it's magnificent, empowering, enobling, energising, ecsatatic and marvellous. I wouldn't exchange it for untold millions or the glamour and fame of a movie-star. (OR a wealthy rock star for that matter.) Despite all the hundreds of recordings I've made, there's more vibrant, essential music created in moments of spontaneity in this little room, than has ever found its way onto album, tape or hard disc. In those unrecorded, unplanned, ungaurded moments, it's just me and a guitar and the original mystic spark that united the two of us in the first place, back in 1958. For me, at 59 years old, there's simply no other reason to be doing this...

Christmas every day, a birthday every hour, ice cream for breakfast and warm, warm lips for the kissing of...
xxx
A VERY MERRY YULETIDE TO ALL READERS OF THIS HYPERDREAMER'S DIARY!


Tuesday 4th December 2007. 2 : 00 pm

Meant to post this earlier but got distracted. Still...better late than never.

Bill Nelson. Diary Entry: Thursday 29th November 2007. 8 pm.

Got back from Paris just over one week ago, 'though it now feels much longer than that. The timing of our French break was a little unfortunate as it coincided with a civil service strike which shut down the Metro system and caused traffic chaos in the city for the duration of our stay. It was difficult to get around and as a result, taxi's were almost impossible to find unoccupied. Emi and I eventually resigned ourselves to walking almost everywhere.

Of course, walking in Paris is no great ordeal as the architecture is so breathtakingly beautiful, but the weather was cold and wet and we were glad of the warm clothing we'd packed.
Despite the cold, we found ourselves stopping regularly to admire the exquisite details of the buildings, pointing out to each other little twists and turns of ironwork, the patina on door handles, the sculpting of stonework, the proportions of window frames, the art-nouveau richness of the stained-glass and so on. We also discovered exquisite, independent shops and galleries in the narrow streets of St. Germain Des Pres, not too far from our hotel in Montparnasse. I bought books at the 'Village Voice' bookshop and some beautiful little ruby red cut-glass, engraved goblets at a very chic interior design boutique. We also enjoyed browsing in the 'Agnes B' boutique, (one of our favourite designers, along with Margaret Howell, Paul Smith and Dries Van Noten,) though the prices were high enough to be thought of as silly and certainly beyond our reach.. However, Emiko DID buy me an Agnes B black scarf that I took a shine to. It is to be one of my Christmas presents from her so has been hidden away until then.

Our hotel, ('Hotel Raspail,') was situated on the junction of Boulevard Montparnasse and Boulevard Raspail, (actually on 'Place Pablo Picasso,') just across the road from three legendary restaurants, 'Le Dome,' 'La Coupole' and 'La Rotonde.' Whilst these venerable establishments are not quite what they were in the days when Montparnasse was an artist's village, the ghosts of Picasso, Man Ray, Leger, Kiki, Cocteau, Hemmingway, and even Lenin and Trotsky still haunt this area. It was once a vortex of creative energy, lit by the electricity of new ideas.

Emi and I breakfasted at 'La Rotonde' and ate lunch at 'Cafe Flore' and 'Les Deaux Magots,' savouring the atmosphere and watching the elegant Parisians go about their daily business. I'm sure Emi caught me admiring the French babes out of the corner of my eye too, but she's magnaminous enough to not make a fuss. Jealousy is, thankfully, not her suite, 'though I'm sure she'd let me know if I ever overstepped the mark!

On the Monday, we walked all the way to the Musee D' Orsay, only to find it closed. Damn, should have made enquiries first. So we walked a little further, crossed the Seine via Pont Royal and continued to the Louvre where we enjoyed a satisfying lunch with wine and an afternoon wandering through the museum's antiquities section, marvelling at the endless treasures on display.

Afterwards, I bought myself cologne at the 'Fragonard' shop before ambling gently back through the charming streets of St. Germain (and the wintery weather,) to our hotel, pausing to inspect more magical shop discoveries en route.

That evening we went to the 'Casino D' Paris' to catch Rufus Wainwright in concert. He was his usual utterly charming and humungously talented self, chatting amusingly in French throughout the show and singing his heart out like the 21st Century Diva he is. This is the third time we've seen him perform live.
I'm not in the habit of going to see concerts at all, these days, let alone three by the same artist in a concentrated period of time. But there's something about the boy.
My only regret about this particular show is that I lost my favourite hat there, a black 'beanie' style cap that I often wore on stage at my own concerts. (Most recently at Nelsonica.) It suited me and is kind of irreplacable as that particular style isn't easy to come by at this point in time, at least in the U.K. (Not high street fashion, I suppose.) Anyway, I'd stuffed it into my coat pocket during the Rufus' concert, only to discover later that it had gone missing.
I also lost my bio-magnetic bracelet in Paris, though I can't say that the aches and pains I bought it to relieve have become worse since it fell from my wrist somewhere in the Parisian streets, or maybe on the train coming back to the U.K.

Getting a taxi back to Montparnasse after Rufus' concert wasn't easy. We'd met up with four of our friends from York at the show, (they'd travelled by car and ferry whilst we'd opted for Eurostar.) We had dinner with them at a swish restaurant the previous evening. It was the first time they'd seen Rufus live and were duly impressed. I particularly enjoyed his beautifully sung version of 'A Foggy Day In London Town,' but then I'm a sucker for those old standards.
After the show, we all decided to find a cafe bar to hole up in until the audience had dispersed, (beer and frites all round,) then we waited at a taxi-rank until cabs arrived. Emi and I eventually got back to our hotel in the early hours and then packed in preparation for Tuesday's trip back home to England.

On Tuesday morning, there was some panic about getting to Gare Du Nord from our hotel. The hotel receptionist said, with a stereotypical French waving of arms in the air, that it would prove impossible to get a cab but, miraculously, one arrived within minutes of our requesting it and we got to the station in plenty of time.
I'm very impresssed with Eurostar. It was quick and comfortable and we were served champagne, wine and reasonably decent food. It really felt quite effortless. In fact, the least comfortable part of the journey was that from London back to Yorkshire on the standard GNER train, not least because of the boorish yobs in some of the coaches. I've reached the age where 'youthful high spirits' translates as 'ignorant louts,' I'm afraid. But this kind of senior-citizen grumpiness comes to us all, in time, I presume.

Since returning home, it's been domestic catch-up time. The Nelsonica preparations occupied me for many weeks and, as a result, more prosaic tasks have accumulated. Mountains of emails to answer too.
One of the first things we did on returning from Paris was to spring Django and Tink , (our feline friends,) from the cattery where we'd left them. It was the first time they'd been away from their home environment and I was concerned about them whilst we were away.. Needless to say, they appeared pleased to be back in familiar surroundings.
Since we decided to look after them as domestic pets, (earlier this year,) they've become a soulful part of the family and our home wouldn't feel the same without them now.

Even though there's a LOT to occupy me domestically, I'm still thinking about musical work. Whenever am I not?
I'm currently assembling an 'experimental' running order of tracks that will probably make up my next album. The album's title is 'SILVERTONE FOUNTAINS' and, at this moment in time, it consists of 16 instrumentals, a few of them left over from the now abandoned 'Frankie Ukelele And The Fire In The Lake' album. I'm planning to give the Nelsonica Team members a home burned cdr of the album's draft running order, (each cdr with an individually hand-drawn cover,) at the annual team dinner party on the 1st December. Last year, I gave each of the team members framed drawings but thought that a preview of 'Fountains' with home-made packaging might be a nice idea for this year's dinner get-together.
The album is still a work in progress though...I may yet decide to set aside some of the tracks for next year's limited edition Nelsonica album, whilst continuing to record further pieces for possible inclusion on 'Silvertone Fountains.' We'll see. here's the experimental track listing. (It will most likely channge by the time the album is released though.)

'Silvertone Fountains.'
-BILL NELSON-
(Experimental assembly only. )

1: 'The Fabulous Whirligig Of Now.'

2: 'Silvertone Fountains.'

3: 'Switch On The Sky, Light Up The Stars.'

4: 'The Walls Of Which Are Made Of Clouds.'

5: 'Marvelous Model Kit.'

6: 'No Memories Here To Make You Sad.'

7: 'Art Is My Aeroplane.'

8: 'The Standard Fireworks Stomp.'

9: 'Silver Sailboat On Samsara Sea.'

10: 'Summer Over Soon.'

11: 'Frankie Ukelele And The Fire In The Lake.'

12: 'The Phonograph Bird.'

13: 'Lakeside.'

14: 'The Lost Art Of Doing Nothing.'

15: 'Frankie Surfs The Milky Way.'

16: 'We Vanish At Shadowfall.'
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It's one of those albums that seems to be slowly evolving or mutating into something I can't yet quite grasp. The album has already been through several changes, giving birth to the 'And We Fell Into A Dream' album and parts of 'Secret Club' en route. And all this started from the 'Frankie Ukelele' concept.
I wonder what the final result will be? The pleasure, for me, of course, is in the finding out, rather than in the end product itself. Once I feel it's arrived at its musical destination, I'll move on to the next thing, with my usual lack of interest in work completed.

Current reading: 'Tripmaster Monkey, His Fake Book' by Maxine Hong Kingston. 'The Underground Man' by Mick Jackson. And 'Considering Genius, Writings On Jazz,' by Stanley Crouch. Oh, and Eric Clapton's autobiography, (this last a gift from a generous fan at Nelsonica.)

Current listening, (mostly in my car:) Les Paul, Johnny Smith, Bill Frisell, Wes Montgomery, Chet Atkins and a selection of 1930's popular songs by various long dead artists. Nothing remotely modern, rock-oriented or new. Must be that age thing again.
My problem is that I've heard so much music during my lifetime that work by younger artists rarely surprises me anymore. (There are a few exceptions, of course.) It all seems to be a re-hash of something originally made years ago at a time when the idea was really fresh. Even current day contemporary composition, the nouveau avant-garde, seems to be going over old ground. Some of it very nicely raked, but not startlingly cultivated or filled with beautiful and exotic blooms.

Perhaps it's no longer possible, (or even important,) to come up with anything truly new. Nevertheless, I tend to listen to music where the process of making it is invisible to me, where I can't quite understand how it's put together, technically or academically. I crave the surprise of not-knowing.
Listening to ancient, promitive recordings of beautifully written and arranged music by the great composers and songwriters from the '30's and '40's appeals because, as well as being aesthetically beautiful, the music's inner clockwork remains a mystery to me.
And, even more than this, I can hear time itself crackling in the ploughed circular furrows of the music's black plastic sound field. It conveys a poetic quality, a wistful, yearning dreaminess, a sophisticated, elegant sensibility transmitted from an imagined 'Golden Age.' At least, that's how I feel as I type these words. I may feel less romantic about it tomorrow. But mellow is my mood right now.
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Images accompanying this diary are:
1: Hotel Raspail, Paris.
2: Bill Nelson in Paris. November 2007.
3: Dreamsville windmill ad.
4: Dreamsville girl ad.
5: Dreamsville ad.


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