May 19, 1948 - March 27, 2013
Paul Williams showed how to write about rock music in a way that became music. Though he is usually credited with being the first to unravel rock critically, how it might be considered beyond the ephemera of charts and favorite colors, there are many ways to interpret the indescribable. It was how he described feeling about the music that first attracted me, how he became an active participant in the dialogue between artist and listener, filtering his views through his immersion in another's art, the calling and response.
His twin poles were science fiction, and rock (or roll...as Crawdaddy! alternated in its subtitle). He came out of SF fandom, a world unto its own, a sub-cult of arcane lingo and fanzines (his was called Within, an apt title); and when he debuted Crawdaddy! in 1966, it was firmly in the faanish mode. Paul's sense of purpose moved the evolving magazine out of the mimeograph and into a burgeoning distribution network that was giving alt-newspapers and rock-as-art a voice, complete with its own FM radio band. I saw my first issue of Crawdaddy! in St. Mark's Books on that E. Village street, next door to a head shop, and it put me on an inspirational pathway that leads to these very words unfolding, one phrase after another, the long lineage of a writer's writing, .
He built an edifice of work that looked wondrously achieving and iconic in a celebration held for him at the Boo-Hooray Gallery in New York the Sunday before his passing. Attended by friends and family and "rock writers," highlighted by his son Alexander joining in harmony with his wife Cindy Lee Berryhill and myself on "I Wasn't Made For These Times," I like to think Paul could feel the closure of his work on this earth, that it was now given flight, released to become the remembering. "Let go of everything you're holding onto," he wrote in Das Energi, his 1973 journal of spiritual aphorism and zen-like prophecy. "Now let go of everything else."
Paul wrote for the future, he always said, to have his books found in a library over the next centuries, interacting with the artists he loved: Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Phillip K. Dick, Theodore Sturgeon. Futurists all.