The Unexpected Return of Arthur Russell

If you’ll watch now, I’m going to do something very different, for me: an actual short, informative blog entry referring to something I found on the internet, to prove to you that I don’t always have to write a 2500-word essay wrapped around a sinuous argument emerging in a moral at the end having to do with the heinous superficiality and crass commercialism of today’s world. Watch:

If there were any new music composer of my lifetime whose work I would have thought would be lost to history, it was Arthur Russell. I used to review his performances of his quiet cello songs in my early days at the Voice; he’d sing barely audible lyrics with a Buddhist sensibility over a slight, droning, anti-virtuoso cello part. I found him charming if enigmatic, sort of a shy Downtown Erik Satie. Then he died of AIDS complications in 1992, at 40, and seemed to disappear from public consciousness. Turns out now that he had a whole other career in dance music, and that people who loved that aspect of his work have been busy all these years collecting and preserving his recordings, making sure his legacy isn’t lost. I was vaguely aware of such activities, and today Ben Ratliff wrote a big article on Arthur Russell in the Times. Apparently there are several CDs of both sides of his music coming out.

See? I can be trained!