On 'The Streets of New York' with Willie Nile

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Willie Nile on stage at the New York bar Kenny's Castaway.

Willie Nile on stage at the New York bar Kenny's Castaways. Jesse Baker, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Jesse Baker, NPR

From 'Streets of New York'

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For the People of Madrid

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Every year, countless numbers of musicians pack up their belongings and head to New York City in hopes of breaking into the big time.

Willie Nile walks between two large buildings on the streets of New York.

Willie Nile on the streets of you-know-where. hide caption

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For Willie Nile, that break came on July 29, 1978. He was the opening act, and the influential New York Times critic Robert Palmer was in the audience to see the headliner. He wound up devoting the bulk of his review to Nile, then 29.

"Every once in awhile," wrote Palmer, "the times seems to produce an artist who is at once an iconoclast and near-perfect expression of contemporary currents."

Since that review was published, Willie Nile has earned a great deal of respect in the music business, but never became what you would call a star. It doesn't seem to matter to him.

His new CD pays homage to a place that has nurtured him over the decades: The Streets of New York.

NPR's Jesse Baker produced this story.

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