David Wilcox

I noticed David Wilcox on posters in a science classroom in high school. The most memorable poster was for My Eyes Keep Me in Trouble. That mischievous gleam out of the corner of his eye etched itself in my mind. I left that school and moved far away, but I always knew I'd find out who David Wilcox was and why someone would hang up so many posters of him.

Ten years later, I bought a used David Wilcox cassette - yes, cassette. I forget which one it was, but it had a red and green cover. I think it might have been The Best of David Wilcox. I listened to it over and over again. My friend at the time became an even bigger fan of David's I think: a couple months later he'd bought a few more. Soon we didn't listen to mine as much as the others.

Wilcox is a multidimensional man. Earlier he sang about classic topics - women, booze, and behaving badly - but it was as much tongue in cheek as anything. He had a bit of the Thoroughgood persona: fifty percent guitarist, twenty five percent singer, but twenty five percent comedian as well.

Wilcox's search for answers - perhaps for who he really was - led to more complex songs. There is a distinct difference between "My Eyes Keep Me in Trouble" and "Cactus". "Cactus" explores loneliness and begins to contemplate why people end up lonely. "But a woman's always leavin'", he reflects, "watchin' the sun shine into day..."

Although there are gems on every album, Wilcox's best songs are on The Natural Edge: "Still Life" and "Which Way the Wind Blows". Both are collages of reality as a set of disconnected facts, people, and objects. In both songs - which are in no other way similar to each other - he arranges the elements just right. He's gone from actor to spectator, chronicling what he sees and adding commentary when needed.

Wilcox's song "Ecstacy" - the very last song in the Collected Works box set - brings me to tears every time I hear it. I discovered that song during a very low time of my life. Thanks, David, for helping me through.

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