Not a lot of artists aside from Tom Petty directly channeled The Byrds as the '70s turned into the '80s, but journeyman singer-songwriter Willie Nile certainly stands as a key example of such an early jangle pop pioneer. Nile's 1980 self-titled debut was one of the most critically acclaimed records of that year, even if it failed to gain much attention among general pop/rock music audiences. That turned out to be one of the most unfortunate missed musical opportunities of the era, as Nile's imperfect but soulful troubadour vocal approach fits very well with the earthy, vibrant nature of his songwriting.
Specifically, "Vagabond Moon" foreshadowed the rise of college rock with a delicacy and immediacy that rock music tended to lack in the era smack dab between the reigns of disco and arena rock. It's an exciting track that must have reminded listeners in the know that great music (then and now) cannot be contained by the boundaries of genre or mere musical fashion. Until the last few years, Nile's long career has suffered from some frequent gaps between studio releases, which has unjustly kept this artist of uncommon depth and sensitivity somewhat outside the wider musical consciousness. However, stepping back three decades to sample this fine music can go a long way in exposing this important talent to a world that remains constantly in need of escalated artfulness.
- Listen to the studio version of "Vagabond Moon" in its entirety here.
- Compare prices on Willie Nile CDs here.
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Album Cover Image Courtesy of Arista/Razor & Tie