Bill Frisell, Beautiful Dreamer

Philip Watson

The definitive biography of guitar icon and Grammy Award-winning artist, Bill Frisell, featuring exclusive interviews with Paul Simon, Bon Iver and more.

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The definitive biography of guitar icon and Grammy Award-winning artist Bill Frisell.

FEATURING EXCLUSIVE LISTENING SESSIONS WITH: Paul Simon; Justin Vernon of Bon Iver; Gus Van Sant; Rhiannon Giddens; The Bad Plus; Gavin Bryars; Van Dyke Parks; Sam Amidon; Hal Willner; Jim Woodring; Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill

Over a period of forty-five years, Bill Frisell has established himself as one of the most innovative and influential musicians at work today.

Growing up playing clarinet in orchestras and marching bands, Frisell has progressed through a remarkable range of musical personas – from devotee of jazz master Jim Hall to ‘house guitarist’ of estimable German label ECM, from edgy New York downtown experimentalist to plaintive country and bluegrass picker. He has been a pioneering bandleader and collaborator, a prolific composer and arranger and a celebrated Grammy Award winner.

A quietly revolutionary guitar hero who has synthesised many disparate musical elements into one compellingly singular sound, Frisell connects to a diverse range of artists and admirers, including Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams, Gus Van Sant, Marianne Faithfull and Justin Vernon, many of whom feature in this book.

Through unprecedented access to the guitarist and interviews with his close family, friends and associates, Philip Watson tells Frisell’s story for the first time.

Critic Reviews

A beautiful and long overdue portrait of one of America’s true living cultural treasures — Bill Frisell. Watson approaches his subject with deep respect and understanding, and through insightful prose, interviews and listening sessions, he deftly peels back the layers of the onion to reveal a complex and dedicated musician whose openness, loyalty, courage, vision, humility, lovingkindness, generosity, and remarkable ability to challenge himself again and again, has made him one of the most beloved and influential guitarists of all time. A brilliant book about a brilliant musician. If music was a religion Bill Frisell would be a Saint.

John Zorn
Critic Reviews

Philip Watson’s book on Bill Frisell is wonderful. It is a model of immaculate research. It is imaginatively structured and very well written, with real feeling and insight. And it captures exactly the Bill that I know.

Gavin Bryars
Critic Reviews

Warm-hearted, collaborative, and discreet to the point of being almost ambient, Beautiful Dreamer manages to be the perfect companion-piece to the music of its subject.

Critic Reviews

Outlines the subject’s life in a series of scrupulous strokes and intimate interviews that are rare in such undertakings. The bonus here is that the life of the musician who played the guitar the way Miles Davis played the trumpet is enhanced by an 11-part chronological sequence of what Watson terms ‘Counterpoints’ . . . It’s an unusual biographical exercise, yet the responses highlight aspects of Frisell’s work that a non-musician would surely rarely (if ever) detect. The consequence of Watson’s sometimes tangential approach is a cool, casual victory.

Tony Claryton-Lea, Irish Times
Critic Reviews

[Watson's] writing balances unbridled passion and dispassionate research nearly as deftly as Mr. Frisell’s playing does sound and silence . . . compelling.

Larry Blumenfeld, Wall Street Journal
Critic Reviews

The biography is stuffed with musical encounters, so many that every couple of pages there’s an unheard Frisell recording for the reader to chase down.

Paul Elie, New Yorker

Formerly deputy editor at GQ and editor-at-large at Esquire, Philip Watson has contributed in-depth features to numerous publications, including the Guardian, Telegraph Magazine, Sunday Times, Irish Times and The Wire. He has interviewed musicians such as Nick Cave, Gil Scott-Heron, Paul Weller, D’Angelo and many others, and has appeared on radio and television in the UK and Ireland. Bill Frisell,…

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