IT ALL STARTED WHEN...
I was working with Paul Nelson at Evergreen Video store in the West Village of New York and a colleague asked if I had read an article about Paul that had gone viral (read it here). When I pulled up the article and shared it with Michael, he looked shocked and asked, "Do you realize who Paul is?!" As it turns out, the unassuming, quirky, yet lovable curmudgeon of a video store clerk who wore the same clothes everyday, chided customers for bad taste in movies, came from a very interesting past in the world of rock-n-roll.
After talking to Paul about this article and his past, I realized he was not only a unique character, but great writer/journalist who influenced pivotal musicians, and impacted the industry. Many say he changed the way writers wrote and the way we listen to music. Here was a man who wrote long, investigative profile pieces and well-thought out record reviews, with intense integrity. And he did so for major publications such as Rolling Stone, Creem, and the Village Vanguard. He even co-created and published his own folk magazine called The Little Sandy Review. He discovered the New York Dolls, mentored every major rock critic, helped pave the way for music legends such as David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, participated in and chronicled Warren Zevon's infamous intervention, and was one of the few critics who unabashadely defended Bob Dylan's conversion to electric, along with many other accomplishments. He surprisingly walked away from it all, going into reclusion, poverty and possibly dealing with some undiagnosed mental disorders. He chose to live a simple life surrounded only by the movies, books and music he loved, but unaffected by technology and the changing world around him.
His story should be explored and told. Although initially hesitant, Paul eventually agreed to share his story on camera. With only two interviews in, including one done as a reunion between Paul and his Rolling Stone magazine proteges Kurt Loder and David Fricke, Paul died suddenly and somewhat surprisingly ... Alone in his one-room apartment on the Upper East Side.
Between the sadness of losing a co-worker and friend, and not having much filmed, the project was sidelined before it was really started. It would be years later on the tenth anniversary of Paul's death, that the documentary would be resurrected, with determination. Part dynamic character study, part intriguing mystery, and part sentimental musical journey, here's the story of Paul Nelson, a flawed complex legend in his own way that you never knew.
Paula Farmer, Director Executive Producer