Darkness is falling outside the window of William Eggleston’s fifth-floor apartment in midtown Memphis, and the silences that punctuate his conversation have grown even longer. After several hours in his company, I am preparing to take to take my leave, when suddenly he decides he is going to play the piano for me. I help him to his feet and he makes his way unsteadily to the magnificent Bösendorfer grand in the corner of his living room. Once seated, he stares for a few long moments at the keyboard, as if lost in thought.
“I play the piano maybe two or three times a day,” he told me earlier, “but only if she wants to be played. I speak to her and she talks back. Mostly, just to say: ‘What’s in there?’ She is almost always responsive.”
This long article gives a good overview of William Eggleston’s life, as a discussion of his first record, Musik, which was recently released on a small Canadian record label. It’s a disc of improvisations recorded on floppy discs on an old synthesizer; and it’s a bit weird. I’d be more interested to hear what he plays on the piano.