Harold Budd


When I think about Harold Budd several different thoughts and images come to mind, one is an old alternate definition of ‘wine’ … Old English wine = Old Frisian winne, Middle Low German wine, Old Saxon, Old High German wini (Middle High German wine, win), Old Norse vinr. … a friend.

OE Beowulf 30 Þenden wordum weold wine Scyldinga. 1122 Anglo-Saxon Chron. (Laud) ann. 975 Eadgar..West-Seaxena wine. 1200 Moral Ode (Trin. Coll. MS.) 223 Werse he doð his gode wines þan his fiendes. 1220 Bestiary 374 Eurilc luuen oðer, Also he were his broder, Wurðen stedefast his wine. 1481 W. Caxton tr. Hist. Reynard Fox (1970) 70 He hath nether kyn ne wyn ne frende that wylle entreprise to helpe hym.

I was introduced to Harold by David Sylvian. David had sent me a letter (handwritten, charming), an invitation to release an album on Samadhisound. While we were working on it, he ask me to make a coda for Avalon Sutra as album was running short … the source recordings arrived as a box of blackface ADAT tapes. I took little bits here and there into a very slowly unwinding ostinato. The intention was for it to be ten or so minutes, but I wanted David to get his hand in so I made a seventy minute version and told David to cut it where and how he wanted … he used the whole long track as a second disc.


1426 J. Lydgate tr. G. de Guileville Pilgrimage Life Man 18320 A camell..is so encomerous Off bak corvyd and tortuous. 1500 Merlin xxii. 393 The dragon..be-tokened the kynge Arthur and his power;..and the taile that was so tortuouse be-tokened the grete treson of the peple. 1551 R. Record Pathway to Knowl. i. Defin. Paralleles tortuouse, whiche bowe contrarie waies with their two endes. 1667 J. Milton Paradise Lost ix. 516 Hee..of his tortuous Traine Curld many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve. View more context for this quotation 1768 L. Sterne Sentimental Journey II. 155 The most difficult and tortuous passages to the heart! 1811 A. T. Thomson London Dispensatory ii. 309 The root is perennial, creeping, woody, and tortuous.

Harold’s playing had been an inspiration for a long while … a friend in Austin turned me on to the Pearl some years before, so many attachments to that music … it was the on repeat soundtrack to many sensuously languid summer nights with my girlfriend, and the cobalt blue sky with pinkish tinged puffy white clouds I painted on her bedroom ceiling.

1641 J. Milton Of Reformation 3 The Soule..finding the ease she had from her visible, and sensuous collegue the body in performance of Religious duties..shifted off from her selfe, the labour of high soaring any more. 1644 J. Milton Of Educ. 6 To which Poetry would be made subsequent, or indeed rather precedent, as being lesse suttle and fine, but more simple, sensuous and passionate. 1814 S. T. Coleridge Princ. Genial Crit. iii, in Farley’s Bristol Jrnl. 27 Aug. Thus to express in one word what belongs to the senses, or the recipient and more passive faculty of the soul, I have re-introduced the word, sensuous, used among many others of our elder writers by Milton.

The first time I hung out with Harold was at show in the Disney Concert Hall. Harold was kind and gentle, like his piano phrasing. He suggested that we make some music … I sketched a few changes and booked time at a studio in Silver Lake. The first thing we recorded is the last thing I released with Harold … the little glass. The title comes from that studio time (David let me know Harold was fond of good wine, so I was happy to take a couple bottles of a favorite, Williams Selyem, to the session):

After the Silver Lake session we started hanging out in Pasadena where he was living part time … the close by Ritz-Carlton had a nice Sunday brunch that we would hit and then trundle over to Huntington Gardens for ’tea’, i.e.; drink wine in the tea room and look at art … that’s where I fell in love Mary Cassatt. The Huntington has her ‘Breakfast in Bed’ … in photos it’s not much to look at, but standing in front of it I’m transfixed by the brushed strokes, like a child lost at the beach looking out at the sea. Those were lovely afternoons.

Joshua Tree

We started recording in the desert. Harold was living part time in house near Joshua Tree … I’d load up my little truck with my Nord piano and several bottles of Williams Selyem and drive out … this is where I first got the idea to make an album around À la recherche du temps perdu, it’s a good audio book for a long drive into that otherworldly nothingness.

1225 Ancrene Riwle (Cleo. C.vi) (1972) 162 In þe deseart..he lette ham þolien wa inoch. 1325 Gen. & Exod. (1968) l. 2770 Moyses was..In ðe deserd depe. 1400 Cursor Mundi (Gött.) l. 6533 Quen he [sc. Moses] was comen into dissert. 1400 Cursor Mundi (Gött.) l. 5840 Lat mi folk a-parte Pass, to worschip me in desarte [Vesp. desert, Fairf. dishert]. 1484 W. Caxton tr. Subtyl Historyes & Fables Esope 2 He doubted to be robbed within the desertys of Arabe. 1634 T. Herbert Relation Some Yeares Trauaile 65 Barren Mountaines, Sand and salty Desarts. 1701 J. Ray Wisdom of God (ed. 3) i. 90 More parch’d than the Desarts of Lybia. 1768 J. Boswell Acct. Corsica (ed. 2) ii. 117 [tr. Tacitus] Where they make a desart, they call it peace. 1771 T. Smollett Humphry Clinker III. 70 She..fluttered, and flattered—but all was preaching to the desart. 1815 M. Elphinstone Acct. Kingdom Caubul Introd. 19 He could live in his desart and hunt his deer. 1823 Ld. Byron Island ii. viii. 27 (note) The ‘ship of the desart’ is the Oriental figure for the camel or dromedary. 1856 A. P. Stanley Sinai & Palestine (1858) i. 64 The Desert..a wild waste of pebbly soil.

I miss Harold … great guy, excellent player and a good friend. As he often said: “Adiós amigo”.


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