Puremusic interview with
Willie Nile

We were absolutely floored by Willie Nile's Beautiful Wreck of the World when we reviewed it a few years ago. So when I heard from publicist extraordinaire Cary Baker that a new Nile disc was in the wind, we hastened to queue up for an interview this time.

Willie had dropped me a personal note of thanks after the review, something that surprisingly few artists take the time to do. I think some value the distance more than the connection, and each to their own. But it meant that we had a little something going into the conversation, and hit the ground running. We turned out to have things, and even a few friends, in common. It's a small world.

Though also from a large Irish Catholic family in New York state, Willie hails from Buffalo. His family also had doors that were open to many characters that shaped the lives within. After his studies, the artist took up residence in New York City, and became a key songwriter on the scene in the 70s, and began recording in the early 80s. His first disc was for Arista, and after the second one, Golden Down, he opened a tour for The Who at the request of the band. He inked some fateful deal with Geffen in '82 that tied him up without a release for nine years.

Columbia put out Places I Have Never Been in 1991, and he began his indie career with the EP Hard Times in America the following year. But that was followed by another long silent stretch, and the landmark recording Beautiful Wreck of the World came out in 2000. And now we have the great Streets of New York.

Nile is an uncommonly good songwriter, someone any self-respecting rock writer should know, chapter and verse. His song about the Madrid train bombings is a modern classic, "Cell Phones Ringing (in the Pockets of the Dead)." We include a few different musical feels on the Listen page, so some of his depth is revealed. His cohorts are serious characters. All of them are producers, all are monster players. Brad Albetta on bass we recently encountered as the helmsman on the new release from Martha Wainwright. Andy York is best known as one of the guitar corps for John Cougar Mellencamp. Drummer Rich Pagano, like Albetta, is a studio owner in the city.

Willie's celebrity fans are of the highest order, including Springsteen and Lou Reed, Bono, Lucinda, Little Steven and Ian Hunter. Quotes can be found in the bio at the artist's website. More importantly, listen to the clips of this incredible American rocker and tell me he doesn't belong in your collection. Here's some of his story, in his own words.   continue to interview