October 17, 2008

John Cale: 2003 interview about Eno, Azarkin et al.

Rodion Azarkin with John Cale
screenshot from the Words For The Dying DVD

It's Whatever reprints a 2003 interview with John Cale. He talks about Rodion Azarkin, a great bass player he met while in Moscow recording Words For The Dying with Eno.

There was a Russian double bass player that Brian Eno and I ran into when recording ‘Words For The Dying’. He had gigantic hands. He had hands like spades. I remember before I met him I was listening to the radio in New York and they played his record. He used to play Paganini on the bass. I got to Moscow and I asked, “Do you know this guy?” And someone says “Yeah he’s in the next building. He works next door!” I told Brian about him and I said, “You gotta hear this guy play. He is just amazing! He plays the double bass but he plays Paganini on this thing!”

So we set it up and arranged it and it was really sad. I mean the guy walked in a tuxedo and sat himself up and brought all the armors with him and set the armors up on chairs behind him in a semi circle and he stood in the middle and he started playing the bass. We noticed there was something wrong and also we noticed that the people that worked with him were making fun of him. What was happening was the guy had a disease called lupus and his whole body was changing. You know the bones kind of crumble and they swell up. And his hands were gigantic. Very efficient in playing what he was doing but his face had altered. And he had this sort of distorted flat face. And it was horrible the way they were making fun of him.

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