This is my 2013 drawing of Warren Ellis, the musician. Absolutely not be confused with Warren Ellis, the writer. Ellis is an integral member of Dirty Three and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and in more recent years has raised his own profile, not through any media stunts or attention-seeking, but through the sheer force of his own personality. I’ve just finished reading his book Nina Simone’s Gum, which redefines the concept of what a “unique proposition” really means, detailing a monomaniacal obsession he’s long harboured with a piece of chewing gum once masticated by Ms Simone, left stuck to the piano she used during her legendary performance at the Nick Cave-curated Meltdown festival in 1999. Iain Sinclair and Brian Catling used to determine the validity of a creative project by applying the question: “is it mad enough?” Well, this more that qualifies, as Ellis seeks out people to join him in his obsession and his reverence for a two decade old lump of ossified gum. What, I wonder, would T.S. Eliot have made of his former publishers putting out a lavish hardback book that details every step of the process that resulted in a lovingly-created cast of the piece of gum sitting on a plinth in an art exhibition in Copenhagen? In the book Ellis states that the idea of writing a memoir would bore him to death, and yet the short autobiographical passages about his youth when he first started playing music are very interesting, as that’s clearly where the fire was first lit and blazes bright to this day. The evidence:

Dirty Three – Everything’s Fucked

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

Warren Ellis – This Train I Ride

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