I had a quality hang the other night with friend and musical hero of mine, the great Willie Nile. As always Willie was a powerhouse of energy and enthusiasm going as far as singing me several new songs (and keeping time by banging his rings on the table) at a table in a crowded subterranean bar in Manhattan. It’s always wonderful when life and karma and any and all forms of omnipotence (or not) coalesce and a genuinely good and deserving person finally has good things happen to them. In Willie’s case rock and roll fame, which in many ways thankfully eluded him in the 1980s, has now begun to creep up on all sides. He’s suddenly in demand the world over, in the past four years he’s written and recorded some of his best collections of songs and because the man never let the music business get him down, is able to savor these stunning developments and yet keep them in perspective. Amazingly, the music world may actually have some modicum of justice clinging to its plastic hallways. Which gives me the excuse to repeat those golden words of Hunter S. Thompson, first taught to me by Stereophile Editor John Atkinson and with I’m sure Willie Nile would agree (or at least get a chuckle out of):
"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."
Nile’s new record The Innocent Ones which will be out in the States in May continues his trend towards writing anthems. The wisdom that this sweet, extremely talented singer, songwriter, force of nature has acquired the hard way over his years of rolling with what life and the music business have dealt him is now paying off in the form of huge, irresistible anthemic numbers like “One Guitar,” on The Innocent Ones which carefully treads just this side of being too sappy and too naïve. To be purposefully vague about it (sorry), there is talk that that tune may become even bigger, more visible in coming months. Nile also has a new batch of songs, for yet another record, that are equally as compelling as what’s on The Innocent Ones. He even has a couple new love songs to New York City, which to my ears, think “Faded Flower of Broadway” or “Streets of New York,” are always among some of his most compelling creations. As usual Nile’s long time songwriting partner and drummer Frankie Lee (who is also good people) is part of all these projects. Here’s a taste of Willie recently performing his tune “Heaven Help The Lonely,” with the help of his long time fan, one B. Springsteen: