Saturday, July 15, 2006


Oh man, see, this is just wrong. There was a guy, his name was Paul Nelson. He was a very good music critic, one of the earliest serious writers to turn his attention to popular music. He was the founder, during the 60's folk revival, of an important folk music journal called The Little Sandy Review. He hung out in the Village, and he knew everyone in that scene. Bob Dylan was a friend from Minnesota, at least until he saw Nelson's record collection and proceeded to steal about 25 of his albums. Dylan mentions this in the Scorsese doc No Direction Home, so it's no myth. Or maybe it is, who knows.

Anyway, Paul Nelson was a very good writer. Along with Greil Marcus, Jon Landau and Lester Bangs, Nelson formed the nucleus of the first generation of important rock critics. He served a long tenure with Rolling Stone, eventually taking over the record reviews section in the early seventies. If you bought Rust Never Sleeps because of something you might have read in RS, it was Nelson's doing.

Because of Nelson, The New York Dolls got a record contract with Mercury. Because of Nelson, we got to hear some cool tapes of the Velvet Underground recorded live in 1969. But kids, this is why it's important to skip music criticism as a career option. What happened to Nelson? He wound up working in a video store. A 69-year-old man peddling Criterion Collection DVD's. That's just a sad and tragic fate for a writer as talented as Nelson. Kids, stay in school, become a veterinarian, an archeologist, a park ranger. It's just not worth the free CD's.


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