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Episode 11: Willie Wisely

Willie Wisely photo by Michael PiccirilliSongwriter Willie Wisely teleports casually across musical boundaries, with occasional forays into the sweet spot of melodic pop.

"I love nothing more than stringing chords together and finding the surprising collision of wonderments." // "The clock -- the calendar -- is my collaborator... Just be patient and let it bake."

Special thanks to one of my previous guests, Mark Bacino, for introducing me to Willie Wisely.  Mark is acknowledged in the liner notes of Willie's "Parador" album, and Willie sang a backing vocal on Mark's "Diggin' That Girl," from his album "Pop Job." 

Photo by Michael Piccirilli

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Bonus Talk  (12 mins.)

We had a great conversation about Willie's website curation and about house concerts.
It's great stuff, and I only moved it here to keep the main interview closer to an hour long.

  Album Artist Songwriter Producer Song
Face the Sun


Willie Wisely (See "Songs Featured") John Strawberry Fields Cut Your Groove (Willie Wisely)
Compare this 2019 version with the one Willie recorded on 4-track cassette in 2000 with The Conquerors.  I love the arrangements of both versions equally.  It was inspired by The Rolling Stones, "Out of Time."

It’s Better Not to Care (Willie Wisely, Shelly Peiken) 
An uncanny Al Green vocal "slink" in the chorus, supported by authentically contemporary R&B chords, guitar & organ.  Sie Sie Benhoff supplies the ostinato (persistently repeating motif in one musical voice, frequently in the same pitch).



Willie Wisely
William John Wisely, Jr. Willie Wisely /
Kiss Her and Make It Right
A rollicking beat, a vocal with attitude, and a horn with a broken spit valve.


Willie Wisely (See "Songs Featured") Petur Smith / William Wisely, Jr. Ella (William Wisely, Jr.) 
A delightful tune with a sweet, descending bridge, written and named for Willie's daughter.  (Those are her scribbles on the album cover.)  "Baby, don'tcha touch ground."  The acoustic version on "Between the Xs and the Os" is also excellent.

Here, There and Everywhere (Lennon-McCartney) 
A gorgeous cover, arranged with real horns and strings.



Willie Wisely (See "Songs Featured") Linus of Hollywood / Willie Wisely Altitudes (William J Wisely, Jr.)
Notice that the first eight bars are produced, performed and sung like power pop, then all the instruments and vocals abruptly switch to a softer palette. This occurs again in the third verse. Willie’s voice often plays this casual balancing act between strength and sensitivity. The chorus lengthens every time around.

Too Quick To Love (William J Wisely Jr and Rebecca Elizabeth Lord) 
12/8 in half time. Simple but powerful word choices. Rapid fire acoustic guitar harmonics punctuate the instrumental breaks. You might not interpret the rhythmic guitar strum, piston-like harmonics, and accented drum beat as conspirators, imitating the sound of a train car clacking down the tracks — until the slow pull of a steady ritard at the end of the song drives that realization home.

Who Blew Out the Sun? (William J Wisely, Jr.)  
This song’s attitude reminds me a little of Randy Bachman’s “Looking Out for Number One.” Notice that for each refrain (the main section of the song), lines 1 and 2 rhyme with each other, but line 3 doesn’t with them or with the 4th line. Instead, each line 3 rhymes with the other line 3s, thereby setting up the title in line 4.

Turn On Tune Out Drop Dead


The Conquerors

Willie Wisely

Willie Wisely Kicking Myself
The Conquerors are their own little niche sound in the Willie Wisely catalog.  File under "Dukes of the Stratosphere," as this band is something of an alter-ego to Willie's solo artist, or as Willie calls it, "a beautiful wormhole."  Recorded on 4-track cassette, they have a unique yet relatable, throwback sound.


Willie Wisely William J Wisely, Jr. John Strawberry Fields / Willie Wisely Blues (All the Rage) 
A great lesson in how a song with familiar chordal and harmonic touches can be completely original (and super fun)!

Essential listening for any Willie Wisely primer.

His Eye, It’s Wandering 
What starts as warning between friends becomes "it takes one to know one."  Great melody and use of suspended chords.

Loander My Guitar
"She's got nothin' on me -- except my Gibson SG."

Ready to Wear
A joyful, power-pop romp.

Sleeping With Girls
A wild, self-deprecating Latin-lounge romp.  Wouldn't it be something if the right female singer ever got hold of this?

Parlez-Vous Francais?


Willie Wisely
Willie Wisely Willie Wisely So Alone
(A Greta Garbo theme song?)

(Title / Artist / Album)

Altitudes / Willie Wisely / Parador
Ella / Willie Wisely / Wisely
Kiss Her and Make It Right / Willie Wisely Trio / True
Go! / Willie Wisely / She

Blues (All the Rage) / Willie Wisely / She

Sutures Loose / Willie Wisely / Face the Sun
Cut Your Groove / Willie Wisely / Face the Sun
Cut Your Groove / The Conquerors / Sick of Living
It's Better Not to Care / Willie Wisely / Face the Sun
I Can't Sleep / Willie Wisely / Face the Sun

Drink Up / Willie Wisely / Parador
Too Quick To Love / Willie Wisely / Parador

Loander My Guitar / Willie Wisely / She
Ready To Wear / Willie Wisely / She
Sleeping With Girls / Willie Wisely / She
His Eye, It's Wandering / Willie Wisely / Between the Xs and the Os
His Eye It's Wandering / Willie Wisely / She

My Complicated Friend / Willie Wisely / Turbosherbet

Dog's Day / Willie Wisely / Between the Xs and the Os

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