Other Places: Bill Evans And The Laurie of “Laurie”

Over at JazzWax, Marc Myers is conducting a multi-part interview with Laurie Verchomin, the “Laurie” of Bill Evans’s famous composition. During the final year-and-a-half of his life, when he was in physical deterioration and creative resurgence, Evans and Verchomin had a romantic and intellectual relationship of depth and intensity. His years of drug addiction had doomed him, and he knew it. She dedicated herself to him in his final months. This is one of the exchanges in the second installment of the interview.

JW: Why was someone as gifted and as in control as Evans so hopelessly addicted to something so obviously destructive?

LV: I never did figure that out. That part of him was a really deep place. I don’t know why someone like Bill would be so persistently self-destructive. It’s such a conundrum. It’s such a riddle. For me it’s still a mystery. The only way to understand Bill was to realize that destruction and creativity exist simultaneously. Because Bill was so intensely creative, he had an intensely destructive side. He told me he never could do anything halfway. It all had to be to the extreme. He felt the same way about his addictions.

To read transcripts of the first and second installments of the Laurie Verchomin interview, go to JazzWax.

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  1. says

    Yes, destruction is part of the true artists’ makeup. Nothing can be done to persuade them that it is otherwise. I am not suggesting that an artist who has not destroyed him/herself, physically say, is not an artist! There are degrees.
    By the way, I have just returned from the French jazz festivals. A very mixed bag with a few gems apparent. A highlight for me was recording a half hour conversation/interview with Hank Jones, 92 on 31st July. He played two nights at the Vienne Jazz Festival; the African Night with Cheik Tidiane Seck and secondly a remarkable set with Martial Solal, the great French jazz pianist.
    (To see Mr. Motion’s picture of Hank Jones at Vienne, go here:
    http://www.timmotion.com/musicians.php — DR)

  2. says

    Interesting theory, except it’s contradicted by an artist the poster mentions, Hank Jones, who wouldn’t be playing as he does at his age if he exhibited the “obligatory” self-destructiveness of the great artist. One could also mention Benny Golson, or Benny Carter, and so many other great talents, who continue (-d) to play well at advanced ages and showed no sign of self-loathing.

  3. says

    The contradiction exists of course and Hank Jones is a fine example among many, but I still feel that for the artist the act of creation carries with it the destructive impulse, whether it is the art or the artist him/her self.