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Two years after his death, Russell’s closest friends sit down to discuss the posthumous release of ‘Another Thought’.
Arthur Russell’s exceptionally distinctive musical perspective mesmerized many. From the start of his career in late ‘60’s San Francisco he was a sought after collaborator, and early on made a fateful connection with poet Allen Ginsberg. Russell, while studying Western composition and Indian classical music, played his cello during Ginsberg’s readings. As he evolved, Russell invented new musical structures and obsessively shaped them into new forms; securing an endpoint for these experiments seemed virtually irrelevant to him.
Surprisingly, Russell was obsessed with producing pop hits in an array of genres. It was a curious paradox, and though he was just chasing his muse it was hard for many to understand this at the time. Tragically, he never got to see this dream fully realized. Like too many irreplaceable souls, Russell was a victim of the AIDS epidemic during its early 1990s peak. It wasn’t until relatively recently that his surviving creative family, such as the late Ginsberg, Phillip Glass and David Byrne, would help facilitate the release of works from his trove of music. Since then, more than one thousand reels of tape, hundreds of pages of song lyrics and poetry have been sifted through and compiled in his memory. Most of it is released through Audika, a label founded by Russell’s estate to keep the music flowing. Below, Ginsberg, Glass and Byrne sit down to remember Russell’s legacy and talk about his work on Another Thought.