Short Story Writer, Essayist & Songwriter
Eric Andersen has been a significant songwriter and performer for more than four decades. He was a central figure on the seminal singer-songwriter scene in New York in the mid-sixties, and his work has become part of that movement's canon. But since that time, his writing has incorporated many facets and styles—he has evolved as an artist in ways that are both surprising and entirely appropriate. The body of work he has created in the course of that journey has few rivals.
Folk, blues, country, and jazz are all elements of Eric's eloquent musical vocabulary. But he also stands as one of the most overtly literary of American songwriters; his albums themselves often seem like collections of short stories. It makes perfect sense, then, that he has also explored fiction, essays, and memoir as ways to extend the rich themes of longing, wanderlust, and the search for identity and meaning that have long been central to his songwriting. Just as his songs reach the depths of great fiction, his prose shimmers with poetic suggestiveness.
Eric is a mesmerizing reader. His work ranges over artistic and social watersheds like the Beat movement, the Kennedy assassination, and the Sixties counterculture, as well as how the values of those times have struggled for survival in the twenty-first century. His presentation threads his historical prose poems and some of his songs into a visionary map of where we have come from as a culture and how we arrived where we are now. In a way that few artists can, Eric finds the charged connections between the present and the past, shedding revealing light on the life inside and external to us as he does so.
Bio by Anthony DeCurtis, contributing editor at Rolling Stone and the author of In Other Words: Artists Talk About Life and Work and Rocking My Life Away: Writing About Music And Other Matters.
OTHER PUBLICATIONS Eric has contributed an essay "My Beat Journal" in The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats. An essay called "The Danger Zone" was included in the recently published Naked Lunch at 50, a homage to William S. Burroughs's landmark book (Southern Illinos University Press). Andersen also wrote about Norway for the National Geographic Traveler and about William Burroughs and Robert Wilson's Black Rider for the Norwegian National Theater.
LUISA HELGERRA (excerpt from short story)
Her English was as charming and effortless as her laughter. She was delighted to hear that we were from New York. She added that she loved New York, and had lived there once with her husband when he was a diplomat at the U.N. Then she said offhandedly, “Oh, but that was a long time ago.” She was also clear about one thing: when it came to conversation, nothing was taboo. She captivated us with the notes of her voice, especially when she spoke about the importance of caring and love, and the alchemy of eyes.
Sometimes an unexpected meeting with a stranger can spark a rare chemistry between souls; a deep connection of spirits that offers an unforeseen antidote to longing. Then comes the plain relief of being understood without having to explain. That was what I was feeling now. My wife seemed to share the emotion.
In the darkness, a faint aura of rose appeared over Luisa’s head and glints of silver light shone in her ebony eyes. But then, it could have been the beams from a porch light filtering through the palm fronds.
Before saying goodnight, she gave us her phone number and asked us to please call her immediately when we reached Mexico City. She apologized for retiring so early, explaining that she had to leave back for the city early the next morning. We told her we were looking forward to meeting her again. My wife confessed that she was very pleased and grateful to know we would have a friend to visit in the city.
Later, when my wife and I were alone, we felt a little abandoned and sad, realizing we had met a remarkable woman.
The phrase “alchemy of eyes” kept running through my head as I sat on the edge of the bed, receiver to my ear, listening. I drifted off to that warm starry evening when we had talked in the courtyard under a banana tree, we had fallen under the spell of Luisa Helgerra.