Originally released in 1974 on Pacific Arts records

Magnetic South
Loose Salute
Nevada Fighter
And the Hits...
Ranch Stash
The Prison
Radio Engine
Infinite Rider
The Newer Stuff
The Older Stuff
Tropical Campfires
The Garden
Solo 63-66
The Ocean
Around the Sun

The Prison

The Prison, 1974
a book with a sound track


Art is not mere portrayal of an event - even though some events can be portrayed artistically. Art is an event itself. It is the change of consciousness which occurs that is signal. This movement of thought is the cause, not the result of the work before us.

So it is with "The Prison." A very good friend of mine expressed some concern about access. The words were something like, "Well, I like it well enough, but as a rule I don't like music playing while I'm reading." I use that reaction as an example because it was the first in a chain of similar reactions. If you should find yourself stumbling through the piece at first, perhaps knowing that you're not alone will help to incline you to persevere through a few more reading/listenings. Read slowly and carefully and listen the same way.

I have found that attending to two simultaneously occurring ideas takes some getting used to. At first it seems that I would attend to one and let the other figure as ambience and then the next time reverse the roles. Until finally after three or four listening/readings I was able to see both occurring distinctly and equally. It was that state of consciousness that provided thought with a new vista.

I am grateful to share this work with you and would like to point out that the source from which it is flowing has the splendid quality of being available to all.

Michael Nesmith

The Prison (Compact Disc Reissue, 1990)

I wrote and recorded The Prison in 1974. Much has happened since then. The concept embodied here of a "soundtrack to a movie which plays out in your mindseye" still seems a bit out of reach but not as much as it once was. The advent of the music video has further shown, to an impressive degree, the power of the marriage of two media. Perhaps the times are better for the understanding of these notions.

As I listen now to the record I still very much like the music, and the ideas contained in the book still have, to me, the ring of truth to them. I am grateful for the since it might not have been the case.

I have wondered many times how the future would treat this pro- ject. I am surprised to be able to get a small sense of that now. I am most interested in the acceptance of some of the loose use of the language. I guess in the great scheme of things the use of the nonword "fastly" as a modifier counts for little in the way of crime. I have watched, after all, as "impact" became a verb. Still, I find it curious to see how much I am concerned about the trivial sins and forget the enormous ones, how the subtlest moments are the most resonant, while the travail of birth is a dim echo, and how, indeed, the tiniest morsels are the sweetest. It brings to mind stories I have heard of people at the threshold of death thinking back upon and giving weight to the most improbable ponderables. I think it is true that "God is in the details", or more eloquently "...All-in-all".

There is more to The Prison. I have been writing The Garden for some time. In it more of the ideas explored in The Prison emerge. I think there is more after The Garden as well but it is still a faint and distant light, so its minutiae is unexplored.

All of this is a way of saying that the life of a work seems to have an overarching impulse which we find in the smallest things; things which marry in the strangest ways, produce their off- spring with their own language, rhythm, and purpose, and whose aims come into view only a little at a time.

It gives me great joy to have another release of The Prison to give me a peek at that.

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