Who The F@#$ Is Willie Nile And Why Should You Care?


Why should you care about the new Willie Nile record "American Ride"?

I dunno, maybe because you're kinda bored by the usual suspects you find yourself falling back on out of dedication, habit or a mix of both.  Sure, Kanye West and anything Jeff Tweedy touches will always get more press, but don't let the NPR's, Pitchfork's, and Brooklyn Vegan's of this world program you so easily.

Throw those bastards a curve and give Willie Nile's new album American Ride a few seconds of your time. Doing so will put you back in touch with that side of you that once marched to its own drum.  Watch out, though, you might start caring about stuff again.

For all the adulation reflexively foisted upon every new Springsteen, Dylan or Petty record, "American Ride" is the album all three of those particular fellas have been trying to make for a long, long time.  Alternately patriotic, wistful and road-weary, Nile's cinematic yarns make the daily grind seem like a victory parade of sorts.  Hell, with such joyous working-class anthems as these, one can almost take pride in drawing the short straw and having to clean the ladies room at the end of an exhausting double-shift at Jimmy's Buffet.

After all, it isn't the work that defines you, but the joy you take in living every minute..

For that reason, there is no one better than Nile to deliver that message; having logged many a mile on a rambling and ragged 33-year musical career with more stops and starts than an Eddie Cochran song.

Nile's self-titled first record came out in 1980 and should have signaled the arrival of "the guy who'd make us all stop comparing everyone to Dylan".  Instead, the album's critical acclaim failed to translate to commercial success thanks to the complete inability of Nile's label, Arista Records, to promote a rock record.

I could hold a grudge, I suppose, or blame Nile for inking with the label in the first place, but "American Ride" is the sort of album that heals all wounds, my friends.  I kid you not.

I hesitate to point you in the direction of any particular songs because the entire album deserves to be heard in its entirety/  If you allow yourself to enjoy it as Nile wants you to, by the end of the record, you too will be convinced that Nile has made the best damn album of his career..

This is folk music for folks who hate folk music, but want to listen to music for them, about them.  Forget that tree-hugging, granola-munching schlock we've been "treated" to at art fairs, carnivals, and the like.  This is music for and about people who cry, sweat and bleed each and every day. yet somehow find a reason to smile at the end of it.  In the hands of Nile, such moments celebrate those fleeting moments of light that manage to kick their way through the darkness, making songs like "God Laughs" and  "If I Ever See The Light" that much more prophetic.

Is it too early to proclaim "Album of the Year"?

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