Closed on account of COVID
April 7, 2020 3:57 PM   Subscribe

You might know of Hal Willner from his work on Saturday Night Live, or from his production credits on albums by Marianne Faithfull, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, or the Neville Brothers. If you lived in New York City, you might have see one of his blockbuster concerts inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, the Marquis de Sade, or William S. Burroughs; if you live outside the city, you might have experienced these vicariously through his compilation albums (or PBS specials. After getting “a number one”, Willner died of COVID 19.
posted by pxe2000 (23 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
There should be a closed-link tag after SNL.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:00 PM on April 7, 2020

Mod note: Fixed!
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:04 PM on April 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

posted by Etrigan at 4:22 PM on April 7, 2020

Weird Nightmare occupies a big space in my heart, having listened to it so many many times when I was living in South Jersey and driving to NYC a couple times a week. It was on an advance cassette and I would blast it inside my Honda Civic zipping along the turnpike.

Fucking tragic. This whole pointless plague is robbing us of so many talents and good people.

posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:39 PM on April 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

If nothing else, I'll always remember him for getting The Replacements to cover Cruella DeVil.
posted by ardgedee at 4:51 PM on April 7, 2020 [5 favorites]

posted by snuffleupagus at 4:54 PM on April 7, 2020

Jake Fogelnest just posted an excerpt from this 2017 interview and I regret not putting it in the post.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:01 PM on April 7, 2020


I have fond memories of his transformation of Burroughs' spoken-word into jazzy Beastie-esque hip-hop.
posted by acb at 5:25 PM on April 7, 2020

posted by Foosnark at 5:52 PM on April 7, 2020

loved 'Stay Awake' & 'Lost in the Stars'

He also produced 'The Carl Stalling Project'
posted by ovvl at 6:16 PM on April 7, 2020 [7 favorites]

posted by ZeusHumms at 6:40 PM on April 7, 2020

posted by riverlife at 7:43 PM on April 7, 2020

Of course I knew him from SNL, but Carl Stalling was HUGE in my circle. It came right at that Naked City/Mr. Bungle period where shit was getting thrown together a lot without having to be Industrial anymore.

posted by rhizome at 7:47 PM on April 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

posted by evilDoug at 9:00 PM on April 7, 2020

posted by droplet at 9:57 PM on April 7, 2020

Goddamnit. Stay Awake was in heavy rotation when I was at university, and I fondly remember the Hal Willner/Harry Smith Project all-star concert in London with the McGarrigles, Jimmy Scott, Nick Cave, and Van Dyke Parks.

posted by Orkney Vole at 3:55 AM on April 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

I work for someone who knew Hal and they were very close friends. Last night was tough.
posted by prolific at 6:30 AM on April 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Stay Awake is the platinum standard of compilation/tribute albums. It's so, so, so good.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:30 AM on April 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

posted by SystematicAbuse at 7:53 AM on April 8, 2020


The comment's gone now, but I'm sure the post title's a reference to Closed on Account of Rabies, which I'm not sure if I've heard it yet, but it looks great.
posted by hap_hazard at 1:12 PM on April 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

John Mulaney posted a lovely tribute on Instagram, which was how I found out. I’ve tried not to be depressed about this but with him and John Prine, it’s impossible not to be.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 1:37 PM on April 8, 2020

I think that someone more intelligent than myself should post some of those 'Night Music' jams..
I remember back when I was young thinking: "who got all of those crazy cats together?"
posted by ovvl at 6:41 PM on April 10, 2020

SNL Tribute
posted by rhizome at 3:21 PM on April 12, 2020

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