Paul Collins, Musician

Resident at Westbeth since 2008

What Westbeth Means to Me, Part 2

I arrived at Westbeth a bit late in life. I was a 50-something rock ’n’ roll musician trying to stay in what is universally known as a young man’s or a young woman’s game. My career had come to a complete standstill while I was living in Madrid, and it was next to impossible to get any kind of meaningful work. I had been off the scene for quite a while here in the States, and I had no idea how I would take advantage of the amazing deal I had at Westbeth—except to tell myself that this was my retirement. In the beginning it was hard. I started to drink. I would sit in my beautiful apartment and down bottle after bottle of reasonably good cheap red wine. Days would go by without my ever leaving my apartment.

Then slowly it began to happen. I got tired of doing nothing, and the creative juices began to stir. All the free time started me thinking again. I decided that the fight was not yet over for me, that my artistic skills were still in good shape. I wrote and recorded a new album; some say one of my best. I decided to hit the road again, and in a short amount of time began to tour all over the United States. I started a page on Facebook to promote myself and the genre of music that I play with a vengeance, and it worked. My career was back in full swing. I was working more now than I had been when I was 25 years old. Finally, I thought, I was really taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity I had been given, a place to live where artists are free to think about their work and not about how they can pay their rent. Not only was I performing, but I wrote a book of short stories and a book on being a single parent. I was able to fulfill my artistic desires and goals and be a good father at the same time all because I had the very good fortune to come and live here at Westbeth.

Photo credit: Joy Whalen

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