New York Times
It has been said by those who knew him that Russell had a resistance toward finishing things. (He might have been very interested in how Mr. West continued to revise “The Life of Pablo.”) But what the paper archives make clear, through Russell’s personal notes — often written in small music-composition notebooks — is how much he sought to incorporate a conscious sense of openness and flexibility into his work. Some of his most useful notes, probably from the early 1980s, deal with “World of Echo.” Here he wrestled with the idea of form and completeness in fascinating ways, often using the notation “p Idea” (the p may have stood for parenthetical). Such as:
(p Idea: the construction of structure which can be abandoned at any moment, and that is transparent — W.O.E.)
(p. Idea: the use of W.O.E. to demystify the process of presentation, packaging and glamor of the music at the same time as mystifying it)
So will “Pablo” ever be done? Perhaps that’s the wrong question. Think of how we understand pop music titans like Dylan or Prince. Over time, more demos and alternate versions and live versions get released — officially or not — and our understanding of their process deepens. Given the speed and porousness of the Internet era, we may soon be able to assess and comprehend Mr. West in much the same way. Albums that seem to be complete will only get less so. Songs that sound fixed in stone will be revealed to be the product of much trial and error. The process will be laid bare, as fascinating as the end result.
So let Mr. West be messy. The music, the fashion show, the merchandise, the Twitter digressions, the “S.N.L.” performances and leaked backstage meltdown: “The Life of Pablo” will be remembered for all of it.
If there ever will be a truly complete take on “Pablo,” it should include all of these things: maybe a collector’s edition that includes T-shirts and handstitched tweets and a fashion lookbook and behind-the-scenes documentary video footage and cached web pages and exhaustive demos documenting the songs at their various phases of evolution. Thanks to Mr. West’s living, breathing creative process, the album is no longer just a snapshot, but an unending data stream.
It includes demo versions, rehearsals and alternate takes of some of Mr. Dylan’s most celebrated songs, on the way to forging what he would famously call “that thin, that wild mercury sound” with “Blonde on Blonde.” The collection will be released Nov. 6.