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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Paul Williams: 1948 - 2013

Paul Williams: 1948 - 2013
(Click photo to enlarge)

Paul Williams, the pioneering music journalist, has passed away.

Founder of the legendary and seminal Crawdaddy! magazine in 1966, Williams essentially launched pop music criticism as a legitimate and serious endeavor. And he was a huge Neil Young fan and author of a definitive biography Neil Young: Love to Burn : Thirty Years of Speaking Out, 1966-1996.

Mr. Williams once wrote:
“In writing about rock music, my intention was not to judge the records (like a critic) or report on the scene (like a journalist) but to explore, as an essayist, the experience of listening to certain records and feeling the whole world through them.

“My form has always been the essay, talking on paper,” he added. “My subject matter has always been transcendence.”
From correspondence with Williams on his book Neil Young: Love to Burn : Thirty Years of Speaking Out, 1966-1996.:
The intention of my book was to document the kind of very personal response that we listeners and fans have to Neil's extraordinary performances, and maybe to entertain readers like you who might wonder what somebody else would say about Ordinary People or Love and Only Love... I haven't had many letters from readers of this book (as compared to many from readers of my Dylan books), so it's good to get the feedback.

Don't be denied....
In 2009, we wrote that Paul Williams Needs Our Help due to serious illness and helped raised funds for his health care.

From Remembering Paul Williams, The First Rock Critic | Rolling Stone by David Fricke:
"He wrote with judgment but not superiority or lazy censure; he worked to find paths and connections, through committed, often repeated listening, and presented the results as if you were a fellow traveler, not just a reader.

He was the first of my breed, and he set fundamental standards for integrity and dedication. As a writer, Paul Williams never stopped listening. As a listener, he never stopped seeking. As a colleague, he expected the same."
In 1996, Williams called "The Complex Sessions: Neil Young & Crazy Horse", directed by Jonathan Demme, Neil Young's - and Rock n' Roll's - finest moment. Williams wrote:
"The Complex Sessions seems to me to represent a pivotal moment in rock history (as, say, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" did), not only because it's so good but also because it is a breakthrough in the creative use of a medium (the long-form rock video as a work of art) that has defeated most supplicants, including Neil as often as not.
As a fellow Neil Young fan and music blogger, we can say that Paul will truly be missed.

Don't be denied....


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At 4/02/2013 11:06:00 PM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

Very sad news...Paul Williams was a true pioneer and pathfinder. His work and philosophy of life is summarized perfectly when you quote him: “My subject matter has always been transcendence.” It was always a joy to read anything that he wrote, to listen to the music he listened to, to read the writers who he championed. I still remember discovering Phillip K. Dick after reading Paul's interview article in Rolling Stone. I'm sure the two of them are somewhere right now, having a great reunion, laughing and talking about faraway worlds and discoveries within.

"The miracle is that the universe created a part of itself to study the rest of it, that this part, in studying itself, finds the rest of the universe in its own natural inner realities."
--Dr. John C. Lilly

At 4/03/2013 09:48:00 AM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

For Paul RIP

All things happen
On its balcony and are resumed within,
But the action is the cold, syrupy flow
Of a pageant. One feels too confined,
Sifting the April sunlight for clues,
In the mere stillness of the ease of its
Parameter. The hand holds no chalk
And each part of the whole falls off
And cannot know it knew, except
Here and there, in cold pockets
Of remembrance, whispers out of time.
--John Ashberry from Self-Portrait In A Convex Mirror

"This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love. When the impossibility of replacing a person is realized, it allows the responsibility which a man has for his existence and its continuance to appear in all its magnitude. A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the "why" for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any "how".
--Viktor E. Frankl from Man's Search For Meaning

"We are all born with a high potential, and if we try hard we can all become superior human beings and acquire talent and ability. If you have really understood my message, you will not put if off until tomorrow, but will put it into action right now, today. And your life will become happier as a result. That this may become true for everyone is my heartfelt dream."
--Shinichi Suzuki from
Nurtured by Love: The Classic Approach to Talent Education

"All the reseach I had done fell away, as I improvised the words, driven by the deep personal struggle of the artist, who by the nature of his calling is obliged to manifest the spiritual as physical matter in the material world.

My daughter Jesse and son Jackson open the Neil Young song. I chose it to follow the dark apocalyptic vision of Constantine's Dream, as it offers a new beginning. Tony Shanahan recorded his young nephew Tadhg and friends singing the last refrain. Thus Banga closes with my son and daughter, and the sons and daughters of others - all our children, the hope of the world, embarking on adventures of their own."
--Patti Smith from Banga

May God's Blessing keep you always
May your wishes all come true
--Bob Dylan

You better take a chance
A chance on Love
--Neil Young

At 4/03/2013 10:05:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

Thanks, as always, Mr H, for your thoughts and words.

It really is remarkable how these life events ricochet around... strange things happen when worlds collide.

Paul's partner is running a tribute to Paul on her FB page @

A nice look back on someone who once walked like a giant...

At 4/03/2013 12:48:00 PM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

Thanks very much T, you did a wonderful tribute to a remarkable person. Paul Williams and Ralph Gleason were the first music writers I loved and paid total attention to. As David Fricke wrote, it was more "Hey, you should really check this out!" whenever they wrote about the music and art they loved. Others have gotten my respect and full interest since (e.g. Bangs, Marcus, Christgau, Palmer et al), but those two were the first and the best of all. They were humble poets who walked like and with Giants. Don't think we'll see anyone quite like them again.

At 4/03/2013 03:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Mr. Henry - the 1st quote you cite is very sad especially considering who it is from...

At 4/04/2013 12:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just an old fashioned love song, commin down in three part harmony. RIP PW


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