Here is an instrumental piano piece that gives us a tantalizing glimpse of what might have become of Nick’s compositional career had it not been tragically struck down by ennui in the late seventies. Prelude was written in Waterloo, Ontario, and was first played on a large upright piano of ghastly green hue.
One thing at least is certain — this life flies;
One thing is certain, and the rest is lies;
The flower that once has blown forever dies.”
We were supposed to call this one Walt’s Lullaby, since he apparently goes to sleep just about instantly when it comes on, but there are already too many tunes with that name.
Nick wrote Prelude long long long ago — with a pen! — and buried it deep within his fell dwelling place, the “Edifice of Matter”. It was a time so remote that no one made a photograph of themselves being present. He recalls that the piece was written partly for fun with metre, and — if “partly” is to be trusted — for one or more additional reasons.
Nowadays, “prelude” is one of the names composers give to keyboard pieces when they can’t think what else to call them. In Bach’s day you could almost bet that a prelude on one page would be followed by a fugue on the next, but that convention dwindled as it dawned on composers that writing fugues was enormously difficult for everyone except Bach. The idea that a prelude should be followed by something took longer to shake, but after a while things got so free and easy that a prelude no longer needed to introduce anything at all. Chopin, for example, could issue a book of 24 preludes with no embarrassment or qualm, no sense of leaving the job half done. Nick’s Prelude was created in that same spirit of permissive semantic behaviour, of composition without commitment and preludes without consequences. There is no fugue in the offing.
Which there ain’t no lyrics, is there, it being a bleeding instrumental.