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A Year In the Wilderness

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iTunes Review

Age suits John Doe well. Even when he co-fronted the L.A. punk band X two decades ago, he seemed older than his years, and 2007’s A Year In The Wilderness finds his trademark howl and jagged sense of poetics in well-seasoned form. This album brings Doe’s rootsier qualities to the surface, presenting the singer/songwriter as a Dust Bowl troubadour roaming the bleak outskirts of 21st Century America. Those who miss the manic energy of X’s glory days will get a charge out of “Lean Out Your Window” and “Hotel Ghost” (the latter featuring Doe’s former bandmate Dave Alvin wailing mercilessly on lead guitar). “The Golden State” (a scorching duet with Canadian country-rocker Kathleen Edwards) invokes memories of the ‘80s California cowpunk scene. But the album’s lyrics make clear that Doe isn’t interested in wallowing in nostalgia. He struggles to come to terms with present-day dreams and fears in tracks like “Unforgiven,” “The Bridge” and “Darling Underdog.” Especially potent in this vein is “A Little More Time,” a bleakly lovely ballad worthy of vintage Dylan. John Doe may have spent A Year in the Wilderness, but this album finds him very much on track.

Customer Reviews

Marry me, John

This album has kick-started my summer ("The Golden State" is a perfect song, made more perfect with the inclusion of Kathleen Edwards... The line "I am on the tip of your tongue" makes me daydream about having sex in the lifeguard tower at Trail #3). John Doe remains the standard by which I measure all other men, which is why I am a lesbian.

Spend Some Time Exploring the Wilderness

From the rollicking rhythm of “There’s a Hole” to the breathtakingly soft intensity of “Grain of Salt,” from the seductive and bluesy “Big Moon” to the “hauntingly” punkish “Hotel Ghost, “A Year in the Wilderness” contains all of the elements that have made John Doe one of America’s greatest (although often underappreciated) singer/songwriters: poetic lyrics, vocal intensity, and well-chosen guests. No one expresses the possibility, the longing and the loss of the landscape of love better than Doe. Like the wilderness, Doe’s landscape is striking— awe-inspiringly beautiful and able to make us feel connected to each other and the world while it resonates with a sense of isolation. This album features some of Doe’s best writing to date, yet even when he makes use of a familiar phrase his delivery is transformative. No where is this clearer than in “The Golden State” where Doe uses phrases so familiar they have become clichés and transforms them in to a unique and powerful revelation about the complex nature of relationships through the alchemy of his delivery. This album is a must have for long time Doe fans and a wonderful introduction to his work for those discovering him for the first time.


l'll eat a bug if this cd is not at the top of the "Year's Best" lists. John's a bloody genius... Plain and true...bloody genius.


Born: 1954 in Decatur, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As one of the founding members of the Los Angeles punk band X, John Doe was one of the most influential figures in American alternative rock during the early '80s, but when he launched a solo career in the early '90s, he decided to pursue a rootsy, country-rock direction instead of continuing with punk. X's latter-day albums exhibited a rockabilly and country influence, but it wasn't until Doe's 1990 debut, Meet John Doe, that he recorded a pure country album. Meet John Doe was recorded during a...
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