Wednesday, May 1, 2013

And Still More: Reflections on Paul Williams

  • Jim Fouratt
    a long time friend of Paul's, active in the entertainment industry and gay rights

    In these days of marriage-obsessed-media, little attention is paid to the vow of: being there in sickness and in health'. Cindy Lee Berryhills devotion to Paul Williams in “good times/bad times” is about the best example since the plague years of AIDS that I can look to, to tell people “This is what marriage means at it's core". Mutual caring and love... something that I don't think legal paper needs, or is necessary to make honorable. I know how she struggled to “be there “ as this beautiful, smart-mind, entered a dark cave of confusion and memory loss.. I also know how difficult a person with Alzheimer can be to the person they most love. She has been silent on just how hard it is in the day-to-day struggle to be present. But many of us know first hand in this kind of situation, just what unconditional love actually means. The thought of her playing him a Dylan tape in the last days and he telling her to “shut up” brought a smile to my face and a sad sigh of letting go. Cindy, your friends are here to hug and hold you and to encourage you to pick up the guitar when ready.

    My memories of Paul go all the way back to the time when I was the Editor of the Communication Company/NY, a daily news sheet put out to organize 'hippies” to the political realities of life in 1967, including the WAR. I met Paul at some show and he would drop in at my loft at 26 Bond Street and I would always make sure there were a stack of Communication Com. pay sheets at the Crawdaddy office above Sing Out magazine's office on Sixth Avenue and West Third St. 

    Paul asked me to write for him. He was amazingly kind, and editorially helpful to this dyslectic writer, as the words spilled out onto the page. .. remember, he was also editing Richard Meltzer and Sandy Pearlman at the time too. Think of those aesthetics. Ray Caviano, who later invented the disco genre, was Crawdaddy's first ad salesman. I introduced Paul to Don McNeil, a young writer at the Village Voice who became his best friend, (McNeil's writings on the late '60s youth politics and culture are so much better than Todd Gillan's). 

    When I decided to organize a New York Be In I asked Paul to join me. He and Susan Hartnet, of Robert Raushenberg's EAT (Experiments in Art and Technology), and Chilian artist and political ex-pat Claudio Badel were the anonymous team who produced the Be In, an indelible cultural happening. While others tried to take credit, it was we four that actually organized it.

    Paul moved to California after Don's accidental acid drowning in a beautiful lake, and began his career of writing and publishing meta-physical and culture critique books always rooted in music. We would meet often as our roads crossed and recognized each other as soul brothers without having to say it. I knew Cindy as a smart singer songwriter of merit . When he told me he was smitten I remember telling him "she can keep up with both your intelligence and critical love of music". And she did.

    Today I am both sad and relieved that he has finally move on . His legacy is our collective task to keep alive...and to be there when Cindy and Alexander need our support. Being an artist in these days of piracy, and now a single mom, means being poor in pocket but rich in memory and creativity
    Good bye Paul. I loved you.
    Jim Fouratt


    Stephen Kalinich
    and writer of Beach Boys lyrics 

    Paul Williams: 
    One of the sweetest men I knew, especially in this business.
    He wrote the first articles about California Feeling when I was barely beginning.
    Always a kind soul and way ahead of the curve.
    He has a lovely wife Cindy who has stood by him through it all and she has great compassion.
    Here is a guy that was blessed and helped a lot of people.
    “I wear these clothes
    of flesh
    so loosely
    for a time
    i surrender
    my nakedness
    for a garment
    of light.
    As these bones
    as i fall
    differentiating bliss
    lose memory
    of mortality
    for it is only mine
    for a brief beautiful
    with hands
    it is hard
    to touch the soul.
    Let me enjoy
    these days
    I walk within
    whatever is possible.”

    Stephen Kalinich, Jackson Browne, CLB, Paul Williams 2007
    Photo credit: Jill Jarrett


    And a very expansive piece on Paul written by Jon Kanis, as the cover story for San Diego's favorite music newspaper:
    San Diego Troubadour

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