A tune a day – Willis Earl Beal
Willis Earl Beal isn’t an easy person to find. He isn’t on Facebook and never had a MySpace page. No Twitter account, nothing on SoundCloud, not a single BandCamp page with his name attached to it. All I had to guide me was a curious flyer I found tacked to the wall of a used bookstore on Chicago’s west side displaying a rough drawing of a slender man with a bizarre message that started with “I want friends & stuff” and ended with “I am not a Weasel”, signed WILLIS EARL BEAL and a phone number.
Speaking to Willis on the phone is a peculiar, often thrilling experience. He dips in and out conversation – dropping the phone to turn up the TV or radio, or argue with his brother in the background. He’ll pause mid-sentence to rid debt-collectors on call waiting or if you’re lucky, sing one of his many songs. ‘Of course WILLIS EARL BEAL can sing’, I thought the first time this happened. Beal’s songs were immediately arresting, his soulful croon sincerely underscoring lyrics about everyday tedium, fear, and death.
Leor Galil, CHICAGO READER
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