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John Doe: The 'X' Man Returns

The cover of John Doe's <em>A Year in the Wilderness</em>.
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The cover of John Doe's A Year in the Wilderness.

The legendary early-'80s band X was famous for blending the brashness of punk with the unpretentiousness of country and roots-rock. But when the group split up and bassist/songwriter John Doe went solo, his first album under his own name (1990's Meet John Doe) was a fairly straightforward collection of traditional-style country songs. It was one of many unexpected moves in Doe's ever-evolving career, which has spanned everything from X reunions (and a reunion of its side project, The Knitters) to acting.

In the past 20 years, Doe has also recorded the occasional solo album between movie roles (he has appeared in Wyatt Earp, Salvador, Great Balls of Fire and more). And, though he has incorporated some heavier rock sounds along the way, Doe remains an unpretentious roots musician at heart.

Doe just released a disc called A Year in the Wilderness, and recently sat down in the studio to play a few of his new songs. In between performances, he talks about the mythic qualities of the lonely, liberating American West, as well as the differences between song lyrics and poetry.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As NPR's senior national correspondent, Linda Wertheimer travels the country and the globe for NPR News, bringing her unique insights and wealth of experience to bear on the day's top news stories.