The first song I heard by songwriter Arthur Russell was "Close My Eyes."
I felt that it was a powerful song about being in love and experiencing the world with that person.
Russell was raised in Oskaloosa, Iowa, where he later studied the cello and began to write his own music. In the early 1970s, he moved to California and studied Indian music at the Ali Akbar Khan School in San Francisco. He met Allen Ginsberg with whom he began to work, accompanying him on the cello while Allen sang or read his poetry.
In the mid 1970s, Russell moved to New York City. He contributed to various studio work and occasionally performed with the likes of David Byrne, Rhys Chatham, Jon Gibson, Peter Gordon, Jerry Harrison, Garret List, Andy Paley, Leni Pickett and Peter Zummo.
In 1978, Russell wrote and produced "Kiss Me Again", under the name Dinosaur. It was the first disco single released by Sire Records, and the first of many of Russell's innovative dance tunes. This was followed by "Is It All Over My Face" by Loose Joints, released in 1980. In 1982, Russell and William Socolov founded Sleeping Bag records and their first release was his "24-24 Music". The number "Go Bang", which originated from this album, was remixed as a 12" single by Francois Kevorkian.
During the mid 1980s, Russell gave many performances, either accompanying himself on cello with a myriad of effects, or working with a small ensemble of muscians. In 1986 he released an album called "World Of Echo," ,which incorporated many of his ideas for pop, dance and classical music for both solo and cello format. This critically acclaimed album was included in Melody Maker's "Top Thirty Releases of 1986".
Russell died of AIDS-related illnesses, and in its obituary the Village Voice wrote: "his songs were so personal that it seems as though he simply vanished into his music."
At the library we have three of his CD's if you want to check them out: