David Belcher talks to Paul Buchanan and finds that Blue Nile are the

same as ever as they work creatively near Venice

LET us rejoice, weeping copiously! The religious experience otherwise

known as the Blue Nile is about to lighten our darkness with a new

album! It'll be 1994 before the LP actually appears, mind, but yea and

verily, I have spoken with singing Nilie Paul Buchanan and the album is

in the midst of creation, so a happy day inches ever closer.

For the past two months the Blue Nile threesome have been recording in

their own travelling studio set up in a room at another studio near

Venice, a situation which may well be emblematic of the Nilies'

painstaking creative process: not simply in an extant studio, but in

their own bit near a pre-existing studio.

''We were having problems finding a place where we could make a

noise,'' Paul says simply over the phone. In fact, the Italian search

for a place in which to capture the glories of the Blue Nile's noise was

far from straightforward, having taken them to an old Venetian naval

arsenal; a tiny island owned by lateral thinker Edward de Bono, and an

Armenian priests' college.

Two years ago, of course, the Blue Nile forsook Glasgow for Los

Angeles, there to work on other folk's records (Robbie Robertson, Annie

Lennox, Julian Lennon, Nicky Holland, and Sting, among others), and sort

out a partnership with a new record label, Warners. ''It was good to

take in new things, and be somewhere else,'' says Paul. ''It's easy to

feel like an outsider in LA, where notions of community are based on

business; where James Dean and Marilyn Monroe are the moral equivalents

of Robert the Bruce and Karl Marx. And being isolated is good for

writing songs.

''It's like the American pioneer tradition: take some of what you've

got, where you've come from, and see how it works with what you're

confronted with, what you see. Then again, I was thinking that some

people have been going to Berlin as the wall comes down, and some have

been in Russia during the collapse of communism . . . and I'm in

Hollywood looking at the film and music business?''

Hollywood observations?

''Having grown up with Hollywood via movies on Sunday-afternoon TV, I

was surprised that the people who make films don't have heroic motives.

And the personal health-care thing . . . big Hollywood parties all break

up at 11.30 with guests waving goodbye to the host, and me the only one


''At the risk of sounding like a complete prat who's just been lying

about in Hollywood for two years, it was a permanent studio-tour . . . I

was forever wanting to phone home and say 'do you know who I just had

dinner with!' ''

As was noted by Britain's scummy tabloid newspapers, Paul shared some

Hollywood dinners with movie star Rosanna Arquette. Their relationship

is now over. Aye, we long-time Nilie-lovers weren't happy that the

tabloids kept putting Ms Arquette and you through the mangle, calling

you ''Glasgow singer Paul Buchanan'' like you were Harry Lauder's


We were worried that the Hollywood glitz-machine was leeching on your

reality-modules, laddie . . . sapping your essence. And I'm unhappy to

learn that Rod Stewart's recorded a version of The Downtown Lights.

Paul laughs, alluding diplomatically to the fact that artistic

suffering counts for nothing in Hollywood (''I'd tell them I'd been

sleeping on friends' floors and eating biscuits for four years . . .

they weren't interested''). Ochone, all those rainlashed afternoons in

sundry gloomy Glasgow West bedsits; good for the soul, something which

Hollywood maybe lacks. But what of the future?

''It feels different; we feel different. We've absorbed things on our

travels. I bought a guitar that I especially took with me everywhere; it

was good to be free of all normal routines, writing songs. But really

the Blue Nile are the same as ever.

''We're the best we can be, as honest and pure as we can be . . .

there are no ulterior motives. We render what we're feeling without any

embroidery on it. I mean, here I am, living out of a suitcase again. I

don't know where I'm going or where I'll live. All you're left with is

the songs; they kiss you goodnight, and you kiss them goodnight. You

pour a lot of love into them, and -- irrespective of circumstances --

hope they chime with somebody else's feelings, whether it's Hollywood

stars, or the man standing in Hollywood waiting for a bus.''

Oh Paul, Paul Joseph, and Robert: we await you at the 59 bus stop

until the end of time, our Blue Nile love is so strong.