Without a doubt, the best thing about getting into writing about music when I was in my 30s was having direct contact with great musicians I had admired from afar, including plenty of musical heroes, for the purpose of interviewing them and writing stories.
And one of the biggest blasts -- no, honors -- I ever had, in any way, was, out of the blue, being contacted by Buell Neidlinger because he wanted me to write liner notes for a new album. It felt like winning an award. On our first conversation, we ended up talking for over three hours, and having a couple conversations after that. To say they were unforgettable is an understatement -- the dude had personality with a capital P, and capital every other letter. And his stories, and insights... whew.
(Referring to a musician whom I considered legendary, and a frequent collaborator with Buell, he told me he was a motorcycle freak, and: "Did you know his brain has been exposed to the air? Twice.")
Do you care at all about classical, jazz, rock, bluegrass, funk, aka music, and don't know about Buell? You should. Without a doubt, you have heard him. I know of no other musician who has had a career more varied and extraordinary.
Hyperbole? Besides his recordings as a leader, how's this for a resume:
Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Chris Thile, The Village People, Andy Statman, Hot Lips Page, Herbie Nichols, Stewart Copeland, Igor Stravinsky, Tony Bennett, Danny Barnes, Leopold Stokowski, Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Leonard Bernstein, the New York Philharmonic, Barbra Streisand, Peter Erskine, the Boston Symphony, Darol Anger, Ruben Blades, Sam Phillips, Richard Greene, Peter Rowan, Steve Lacy, Frank Sinatra, John Cage, George Crumb, Duane Eddy, Jimmy Giuffre, Ry Cooder, Jean-Luc Ponty, Jerry Garcia, Roy Orbison, Sir John Barbirolli, Elvis Costello, the Houston Symphony, Neville Marriner, Bonnie Raitt, Pops Staples, Thelonious Monk, Shadow Wilson, John Coltrane, the LA Chamber Orchestra, the Beach Boys, Harry Nilsson, Ringo Starr, Bob Seger, Natalie Cole, David Grisman, Gunther Schuller, Van Dyke Parks, Anthony Braxton, Leo Kottke, Earth Wind & Fire, Frank Zappa, Archie Shepp, and the Eagles (yep, Hotel California).
(And as an addendum, here's the allmusic guide list of credits for him, that includes a bunch more -- many many more! -- I hadn't even realized or had forgotten about:
Or if you go to movies, you likely have heard him there -- he did countless soundtracks.
And I hate to see him go.
Dave Royko/Music Rambles
Buell's bio on his record label (K2B2) website:
The album with my liner notes