You might be forgiven if you missed the little man with the big, unruly pompadour jamming near the Big Man. It was Willie Nile!
The artist formerly known as Robert Noonan from Buffalo, New York has been making fantastic classic rock that deserves an airing in a stadium setting, and it warmed the heart to see him get his day on the big stage.
Based on a string of amazing albums that includes his latest “House of a Thousand Guitars” release, it is a crime that The Boss hasn’t opened for Nile. Those are fighting words in my state, I know, but Nile is really that good.
As befits the title, “House of a Thousand Guitars” is chock full of snarling hooks that touch on influences by Bob Dylan, the Stones, early John Mellencamp and Tom Petty. He’s the Traveling Wilburys all wrapped up in one, with a working man’s voice that make his songs so appealing.
“There’s not a dry eye when Old Hank sings/of the pain and the hurt that love sometimes brings/they say there are no broken strings in the house of 1,000 guitars,” he sings on the title track, which includes references to Lennon, Muddy Waters and Hank Williams occupying the same home. Once again, his innate Irish storytelling abilities serve him well.
It might be a bit cold these days to drive around town with the top down, but these classic rockers almost demand an open airing.
“I’ve got the universe pumpin’ through my brain/I’ve got the sound of the stratosphere beatin’ in my brain/I’ve got the colors of the rainbow on a palette of blue/I’ve got the call of the wild waitin’ for you,” he sings on “Run,” an irresistible ditty consisting of a chugging beat and jangly alternative rock power chords.
Nile writes music for every mood, whether you want to go for a late night drive at high speeds or if you want to park at Lover’s Lane with that special someone.
“Her Love Falls Like Rain” evokes the most romantic chapters of Dylan’s songbook, with an infectious Beatles harmony thrown into the chorus for good measure.
“Love is a train with wheels on fire/passengers filled with steam and desire/love is a mystery without any clues/you can stand in the station with a suitcase full of blues,” he sings on the gorgeous “Love Is a Train.” This is a song dying to mate with a chick flick soundtrack!
Nile’s first self-released album, “Beautiful Wreck of the World” was released in 1999 and was chosen as one of the Top Ten albums of the year by critics at Billboard magazine, the Village Voice and Stereo Review. Lucinda Williams called "On the Road to Calvary," Willie's song for Jeff Buckley, "one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard."
If there is a God in Heaven, Willie Nile should have been a big rock star after putting something out as brilliant as that. But alas, the music business is cruel at times.
“House of a Thousand Guitars” is another powerful collection of songs that delivers on the promise of fame that has proven so elusive all those years ago. Log onto willienile.com, see him at Manhattan’s Hard Rock Cafe on October 22, buy his album, spread the word, and let’s make sure that when they turn the lights on the new Giants Stadium next year, Willie Nile is the headliner!