Willie Nile and Nels Cline: Uncommon Ground

It is rare that I cover subjects beyond digital, social, marketing, and leadership on The SocialSteve Blog. I have never had a guest blogger on The SocialSteve Blog. But when the planets align, one needs to make exceptions. Thus is the case with an article that follows. This past week, I saw two concerts that were truly extraordinary, both with a bud of mine. We were both so moved by the awesome talent and passion delivered. The following is piece is written by bud, “SeeBe.”

Witnessing genius is profound, thought provoking and at best transformational. Rare events indeed, until one has grown a set of ears and open heart, willing to experience greatness shining loud and blaring bright as Willie Nile’s and Nels Cline’s.


Deconstructing the name CLINE, we are able to see contained within, the surname of NILE. Willie is a songwriter, a wordsmith able to convey poignant beauty with often simple characterizations, nailing it to our consciousness; expanding our regard and reference of what rock music can really be.

Cline contains Nile, just rearranged into new form, using notes, beats, and other worldly musical communication expressing metaphysical truth. Nels speaks the foreign tongue, whose source of speech is likely divine. Skilled improvisers, Nels and Co span a range as wide as the Grand Canyon. I’m not joking. This is a man who can speak softly with gentle prowess on the acoustic, release and free rock guitar as brilliant as ANY, enter into deep grateful space, bang hard like a metal head, live in free-form jazz land while creating new and airy dimensions where all have say; communion of sorts..

Willie oh Willie how grand your majesty. . . Troubadour Extraordinaire… Bruce Springsteen wearing a brilliant disguise, existing under popular radar for no reason other than fate which enters all lives. That same fate allows me to know Willie Nile exists. Genuine human love emanates and is shared between Willie and we the listeners of the Nile Gospel. Although Nile contains one less letter than Cline, he’s more succinct when dropping the Nile Gospel bomb upon us. Minutes are all that’s needed for Willie to draw us deep into his world.

Fortunate for us Cline has an additional letter, with Nile completely rearranged. It’s a creation of Frankenstein proportion; big, scary and gentle. Nels somehow walks the earth able to contain by day what comes out at night. Ferocious splendor consumes, initiating transformation from Clark Kent to Superman. This is not hyperbole. Some day a book will be written and it will be called The Transformation of Nels Cline.

Both men walk upon uncommon ground. This ground I speak, generally invisible becomes exposed when soul willie and soul nels are performing. Both stand naked as any clothed human can be. Each fiber of their being spread across the little universe we all share, intertwining with ours creating new and memorable moments. These are humble journeymen who have become masters though they would never acknowledge such achievement.. Real deal indeed!


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Filed under indie music, Social Steve, SocialSteve

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