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Harold Budd (1936 – 2020)

Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Daniel Lanois, presumably during the recording of The Pearl circa 1984. Photographer unknown.

Harold Budd died yesterday from complications due to contracting COVID-19 during his recovery from a stroke in early November. He was 84.

I was entranced by Pavilion of Dreams when I first heard it in 1980, a couple years after its release. Later, his two collaborative albums with Eno were an awakening, and his solo works displayed still more depth and breadth of emotion.

He was the master of stillness and contemplation, yet his approach was defined by an unsettling aura, an intangible tension that belied — yet, somehow, reinforced — the pensive beauty of his music.

Can music this quiet be subversive? Yes.

He hated being pigeonholed as “ambient,” or, even worse “new age.” He was his own genre.

There will never be anyone who can come close to Harold Budd.

Today Bill Nelson posted a touching remembrance of his friend.

Harold’s music was sublime, poetic, warm, achingly beautiful, but also intellectually sharp and precise, like ice carved by sunshine into delicately adorable shapes. His touch on the piano was sensitive and subtle, capable of the greatest tenderness. He often spoke of the ‘loveliness’ that he was chasing, an absolute and undeniable affirmation of transcendent beauty. I was privileged to sit alongside him and add my guitar to his piano playing, but as wonderful as those moments were, my most precious memories of Harold are those when we spent time together as friends. We always found something amusing and enlightening to spin tales about. He was a beautiful soul and I will miss him profoundly.