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Paul Nelson


  1. 1.
    Do or Die (The Debt)
A folk singer at heart, Nelson’s musical heritage stretches between the jazzy, country crooning of Willie Nelson (there is no relation), and Jonathan Richman’s endearing proto-punk city slang.
However, Paul Nelson’s approach to songwriting was not gleaned from a dude ranch or a dive bar. It actually came together in Kyoto, Japan, where he taught English for a year, and, in his free time, struggled to translate the country’s ancient poetry. “It didn’t really reach across too many borders,” Nelson said. “I realized what’s good, is Tarantino writing poetry for Samuel L. Jackson… the graffiti in the bathroom in your high school is good.” He adds, “I realized that the best poetry, the best art, would be writing about what you know.”
With an attractive vocal timbre travelling the same iconic sonic roads as Jim Croce, Van Morrison, John Lennon, and, yes, even Willie Nelson, Paul Nelson the singer could have easily been a lazy songwriter, and people would have liked it just fine. But his ability to write what everyone knows, poetically, intimately, and often with idiosyncratic curveballs that somehow don’t knock a poignant song into novelty territory, set him far apart from the other boring white guys with pretty voices.


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