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Bill Nelson - Diary of a Hyperdreamer, Vol. 2

  by Keith How

published: 25 / 8 / 2015

Bill Nelson - Diary of a Hyperdreamer, Vol. 2


Keith How is enthralled by the second volume of cult musician Bill Nelson's diaries, which covers the years 2005 and 2006

For the uninitiated - a short history lesson. Bill Nelson, the founder of Be-Bop Deluxe, rose to fame in the mid 1970s recording on EMI’s legendary Harvest Label. Be-Bop Deluxe arrived as the progressive rock scene had really reached its peak and, some might say, they bridged the gap between the progressive element and the arrival of glam rock. Be-Bop Deluxe released a string of excellent records, the first being 'Axe Victim' (1974) and their fifth and final album 'Drastic Plastic'(1978) signalling a close to their career. This history though is for another time. 'Diary of a Hyperdreamer, Vol. 2' finds Bill Nelson now 57 years old and living in his native Yorkshire. He has a cult following of massive proportions and a back catalogue of albums that can only be described as magnificent. On the Be-Bop Deluxe track 'Sister Seagull', he describes himself as “a changeling“ and his history proves this insight to be correct. These writings and musings from his on-line diary entries from 2005/6 are wonderful and a captivating insight into the life of an honest, now self- financing artist, who is not willing to play the “industry game” and left fame and fortune behind only to find a following of devotees who hang on to his every note. He has discovered fame of a different nature and fortune in the ability and freedom to do his own thing. His entries somehow capture the normality of his everyday life. He struggles to hold together his household, and faces repairs, unpaid bills and car breakdowns. His story of trying to install a new kitchen from MFI (remember them?) and dealing with anger and frustration is hilarious and something we can all relate to. In the meantime Nelson has to not only deal with administration and concerts (he has his own convention Nelsonica) along with everyday life, but a constant stream of inspiration that drives him back to his tiny studio where he creates his art. Throughout these writings Nelson continually berates himself for his negativity and complaining about his “lot”, realising just how fortunate he is to have artistic freedom. The death of his younger brother and fellow musician Ian at the age of fifty shakes him to the core, and Bill's reflection on his death and memories are revealing and tender as he wanders the pathways of grief. He loves his lists of “things I have to do“ (1. Repair hard drive. 2. go through home recordings from 1980s etc.), and waxes lyrical over guitars and his creative focus. “I almost turned a beautiful piece of music into a horrendous rock anthem worthy of Queen,” he says at one point. This is terrific stuff. 'Diary of a Hyperdreamer, Vol. 2' is really facinating. If you enjoyed Brian Eno’s 'Year with Swollen Appendices', this will be for you. It is the story of an artist dealing with the rigours of everyday life and the artistic spirit. Continually supported by his wife and family and a legion of devoted fans, here is a man whose story embodies the term “independent” even at a cost of his own well being. I lost sight of Bill Nelson in the early 1980s, but reading these diaries sent me scuttling to the internet to discover his 'Dreamsville' website and a Pandora’s box of treasure. These entries were written in 2005/6, over ten years ago when Nelson found himself musing on age and the future. I hope he has kept his diary up to date. Buy this book and immerse yourself in his wonderful music.

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