Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Sitting here listening to a tape I found of Paul inprovising Reger on the Hammonton organ around 1974. Not in the style of Reger, but improvising REGER, for God's sake...

Paul was a true flawed genius. He had so much talent that when he exercised it, he brought everything around him to a screeching halt, because his playing was utterly captivating in its energy, its liveliness, its sometimes painful beauty.

Like so many flawed geniuses, though, his lack of personal and professional discipline and ambition ultimately led him to his downfall He relied more and more on the effect, neglecting the substance. It became obvious rather quickly that his understanding of things was only so deep, and would never get deeper primarily because he was unwilling to make the effort to go further - to extend his world view.

Its not that he didn't learn anything new, for Paulbecame an expert on the use of the synthesiser, which did not exist in a form accessible to mere mortals in the 1970s.

Unfortunately, when he had achieved a style which would besustainable and favorably noticed by others, he stopped developing and started repeating.

Of course, this is a subjective analysis. Paul and I were very close in the 1970s, then lost touch for more than 20 years. Our only contact was the occasional phone call, sometimes collect and sometimes not. He would call, and say (this was in the days before caller ID) "I bet you cant guess who this is.", when I would say something like "You lose, Paul" and he would be so disappointed. Like a child.

He and I spent time together when he come to assist me wih voicing on the Christ Church Savannah and the Manteo jobs in the early 00s. Nothing much had changed. He spouted back to me his "ideas" which were nothing more than a recital of my ideas from the late 1970s. I had moved on, he had not, but I guess I should have been flattered...

People like Paul make us angry, because we can see the greater potential within them. We are disappointed because they are seemingly oblivious to this part of themselves. We are confounded by them because of the vehemence with which they resist an attempts to get them to delve deeper into things.

But, we are also delighted by the seeming simplicity of their lives: Do what you do best. Over and over, and over, ad infinitum.

And we are jealous of it. We hate them for it. Because we ultimately want to know the why of things and they are more interested in the effects it causes.

It is fitting that my first post to this blog should have to do with Paul. He may have been a flawed genius, but he was a genius nonetheless, and knowing him enriched my life tremendously.

-- Olivia

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