I was never sure what to make of Webb Wilder. Growing up in the 1980s, you couldn't open the music listings without seeing his name or his photo, always with the hat and a smirk. Every week. How was one to know the guy was not only the sort of movie star we can all live with, he also has one of the greatest credos of all time. Do you have a credo? I don't, and I'm ashamed. We should all get credos but accept the truth that ours won't be as great as Wilder's: "Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard, grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em!" That's some fine credo.
And the movies? You won't find him on Netflix. But that's endearing, isn't it? The character of Webb Wilder was created for a movie about a detective. There's your hat. And the smarty-pants aspect of Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade informs Wilder's musical output and has for almost 30 years. John Webb McMurry's cinematic persona found its own life in music. Since 1986's It Came From Nashville (now available in the "Deluxe Full Grown Edition"), Wilder released an album every couple of years or so, amassing a body of work that draws from underground sounds and noir vibes. It's American and a little weird in the David Lynch sense. But hey, that's a lot cooler than most of what comes from Nashville.
Webb Wilder returns to Memphis on Sunday, December 22nd, at Otherlands Coffee Bar.