Photo credit: Christina Fajardo
Booker T Jones and Willie at Willie’s Cut ‘n Putt Golf Course and Recording Studio.
Join us, 419 Events (Chris and Rebecca Thomas and Kathy Crawford) for the Spring NORML Fundraiser at our favorite Hill Country course! For the golf tournament particpants, the day starts with a coffee and breakfast with registration at 8:00 am sharp followed by a 9:00 am tee time and 9 holes of golf. Price will be 75.00 per person and includes a cart. Registration for the afternoon group will start at 12:00 and will include lunch and carts for the 75.00 fee with a tee off time of 1:00. Hole sponsorships are 100.00 per sponsor and booth fees for vendors are 40.00. Contact 419 Events at firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the list!
Vendors set up at 10:00 and live music starts at 11:00 am! Even if you don’t play golf, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to shop among local artists and vendors while listening to our favorite bands that want to help support the movement of legalizing marijuana for medical and life saving purposes.
Call Fran at the Cut and Putt 512.264.1489 to sign your team up for the tournament!
On January 28, 1985, Willie Nelson joined 43 other artists to record “We Are The World” under the name U.S.A. For Africa.
February 25, 1985
A sign outside Studio A bore a single admonition: “Please check your egos at the door.” Bold instructions, perhaps, since polished limousines were already nosing down La Brea Avenue toward these L.A. recording studios bearing 45 of the most luminous stars—and well-developed egos—in rock, pop and country music. Some, like Cyndi Lauper and Lionel Richie, were coming straight from the American Music Awards, an annual TV confection designed to pass out trophies and pull in Nielsens. Here at A & M’s studios, however, something far more substantial was about to take place. Before this glorious hard day’s night would end, the ego check-in counter would be the busiest spot in town.
Singers whose life-styles sometimes seem to celebrate excess were coming here to alleviate want. Their project: recording a song that could be used to raise funds for African famine relief. Their work would put a Yankee twist to a similar Band Aid project by British rockers that has raised nearly $9 million since December. But it would also make for one of the most moving nights in music history.
The progenitor of the project was singer Harry Belafonte who, impressed by the British famine effort and stunned by news accounts of the Ethiopian tragedy, had first conceived the American initiative last December.
Several days before Christmas, Belafonte called pal Ken Kragen, a high-octane manager, with fund-raising ideas. “He figured, after all, the national song charts are dominated by black artists,” says Kragen. “If Jews were starving in Israel, American Jews would have raised millions.” Belafonte initially suggested staging a megastar-studded concert. Too difficult to pull off, said Kragen, recalling the money woes of the 1971 performance for Bangladesh (see page 33). “Why not a record?” asked Kragen, whose interest in world hunger had first been aroused by the late Harry Chapin, an earlier singer client. “After all, the Band Aid people didn’t copyright the idea.” Kragen then contacted Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie, both of whom he also manages. Having taken over Chapin’s antihunger crusade in 1981 when the latter died, Rogers readily agreed to participate. So did Richie, who had spent the past several days talking about just such a project with his wife, Brenda.
Kragen next tried to phone Stevie Wonder, but without success. Then, shortly before Christmas, Brenda Richie was shopping in Beverly Hills when Wonder walked into the store to buy some jewelry. She helped him select several items and asked him to return the favor by telephoning her husband about a special project. He did—and was quickly enlisted.
Lionel, meanwhile, was busy contacting Michael Jackson, whom he had been seeing socially for several weeks. Michael, too, agreed to join—provided he could help write the song that would be recorded. No problem, said Lionel happily. Needing a producer for the record, Kragen rang up Quincy Jones, who dropped his work on a new album to donate his services to the project.
At the Jackson home in Encino, Michael and Lionel set to work writing the anthemlike song We Are the World. Progress came in bits and pieces. “I’d go into the room while they were writing,” remembers Michael’s sister, LaToya, “and it would be very quiet, which is odd, since Michael’s usually cheery when he works. It was very emotional for them. Some nights they’d just talk until 2 in the morning.”
In the days between Christmas and New Year’s, Kragen expanded his search for stars. “Basically, I started at the top of the record charts and began making phone calls,” he says. Steve Perry, lead singer and creative heart of Journey, came home to a message on his telephone answering machine. Sign me up, he said. Then Bruce Springsteen, on tour, was called. “Do they really want me?” asked the Boss modestly. Assured that he was indeed wanted, Springsteen also came aboard. “That was something of a turning point,” concedes Kragen. “It gave the project a great deal more stature in the eyes of others.”
Kragen’s final lineup—all of whom performed for free—reads like a Who’s Who of gold record collectors. Among them: Tina Turner, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, Billy Joel, Huey Lewis and Waylon Jennings. Jeffrey Osborne was approached by Richie just hours before the taping, while both were rehearsing for the American Music Awards. “Keep it silent,” cautioned Lionel. Kragen, who had first envisioned only 10 or 15 performers, eventually had trouble stopping the project’s momentum. “In the last week we went from 28 to more than 40 artists,” he says. “I had to turn down something like 50 or 60 performers who wanted to participate.”
Many of those who came did so with difficulty. Springsteen, because of his notoriously long concerts, never travels and seldom arises before 5 p.m. the day after a show. Yet the next afternoon, after finishing his American tour in Syracuse, N.Y., he boarded a plane and flew to L.A. Daryl Hall and John Oates were also in the East rehearsing for a tour that would start a week and a half after the taping. Stevie Wonder managed to get out of Philadelphia despite terrible weather. James Ingram flew in from London, and Paul Simon showed up despite having spent the entire previous night at work in a recording studio.
On the last Monday in January, as the American Music Awards were ending at the Shrine Auditorium across town, all was in readiness at A&M. Studio C had been set aside as a makeup room, Studio B stocked with fruit, cheese and juices for incoming singers. The building’s large Charlie Chaplin soundstage creaked under a $15,000 spread of roast beef, tortellini, imported cheese and other goodies for the performers’ guests—all provided gratis by Someone’s In The Kitchen catering. The onlookers and guests (each performer was allowed five) included Ali MacGraw, Jane Fonda, Dick Clark and many family members, and all watched the night’s proceedings through TV monitors and the lenses of five video cameras.
At 9 p.m. people began arriving in streams. “During the first hour it was impossible to get anything done,” says Osborne. “Everyone was congratulating each other, meeting people they hadn’t met before.” “Saying ‘hi;’ exchanging lies,” echoes Ray Charles. “It was just like Thanksgiving, all of us together.” Ruth Pointer of the Pointer Sisters came with a camera and quickly shot some snaps of Michael Jackson (“I have two kids, and they would’ve killed me if I hadn’t”). Then sister June Pointer entered the studio with Bruce Springsteen, and the pair plopped down together on the only chair then available.
Bob Dylan showed typical reserve at first, sitting off by himself. But even the legendary loner couldn’t withstand the warmth. Hours later he could be found in a corner, rehearsing his solo lines as Stevie Wonder accompanied him on the piano, singing in Dylan’s own nasal style. Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham found himself chatting with Harry Belafonte. When Buckingham mentioned how much he loved Belafonte’s Calypso classic, The Banana Boat Song, everyone nearby suddenly broke into a spontaneous chorus of day-o’s. Ray Charles asked for a drink of water, and another singer volunteered to lead him to the fountain. Stevie Wonder. And so it went. “For me, the first couple hours were highly charged,” says Kenny Loggins. “I’ve never before felt that strong a sense of community.”
Around 10 p.m. the sheet music was passed out, and several people stepped forth to address the group. Kragen talked of plans for the funds they hoped to raise. Mindful of the decade-long “Bangladesh situation, I assured the artists that if it came down to seeing that the money got to the right places, I would go over with the supplies personally.” Then Bob Geldof, leader of the Boomtown Rats and organizer of the British Band Aid singalong, offered a moving speech about his own travels in Ethiopia, telling of a “good day” in one village he had visited when only five people had died. “Geldof’s opening speech was pretty intense,” noted Loggins later. “You could hear the truth in his voice.”
After Michael Jackson shyly described the piece he and Richie had written—”a love song to inspire concern about a faraway place close to home”—the taping began. Quincy Jones sat on a stool directing his multi-million dollar chorus, Richie on a chair next to him, Michael with the others but off to one side. At one point during the long hours that followed, emotions swept up the 400 guests, who joined the singing from their soundproof stage. During a break, Brenda Richie took orders for Fat Burgers (from Springsteen, Dionne Warwick and others) and sent a chauffeur off to a nearby hamburger stand.
By 3 a.m. the choral section of the song was recorded, and only the solo sections remained. “Everybody was drained, but also hanging on to the thread of magic in the night,” says Ingram. “You could see the fatigue on people’s faces,” remembers Osborne. The group took another break and, prompted by Diana Ross, began autographing each other’s sheet music. Suddenly Wonder came into the room with two African women, representatives of the very people the performers were trying to help. The women, nervous and exhausted, spoke through trembling lips in their native Swahili, thanking the group for all they were doing. Says Ingram, “Everybody was humbled.”
Then Jones positioned the 21 soloists in a semicircle around him. Starting with Ritchie, they all sang their parts, and the singing moved round and round the semicircle until it was completed. Loggins was stationed between Springsteen and Steve Perry during the solos; Springsteen sang his part in a huge, booming voice. “I wanted to do my very best,” Loggins says, “and with Springsteen belting his line like a loud Joe Cocker, I wondered how I should do mine.” Just be yourself, Perry advised. “I think that pretty much sums up how everybody was acting,” says Loggins.
By dawn most of the performers had finished. Dylan and Springsteen, obviously drained by the marathon, remained until around 7:30. His own solo work long since completed, Perry also stuck around to witness the ending. Osborne, after trading a few ad lib vocal licks with Wonder, Richie and others, finally walked out the studio door with Michael Jackson sometime before 8. Off to one side an exhausted Diana Ross sat on the floor, tears filling her eyes. “I just don’t want this to end,” she said.
But end it did, for the moment. Kragen, predicting profits of $150 million from the undertaking, quickly went to work pulling together the fund-raising album that would follow and arranging the single’s release in mid-March. Linda Ronstadt, who had missed the taping because of flu, agreed early on to supply one of the LP’s solo tracks. Prince, recipient of three of the American Music Awards earlier in the night, had passed up the group sing and instead went to a West Hollywood nightspot; later that night his bodyguards were involved in a scuffle with photographers and were arrested by police. Finally, at 6 a.m., the diminutive rocker phoned Jones, offering to lay down a guitar track for the group’s single. Jones declined that contribution but agreed to accept a solo cut for the LP instead. Another track would be taped two weeks later in Toronto, where a group of Canadian artists—including Bryan Adams, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young—gathered to create their own Band Aid-style recording for famine relief.
For the Americans who did take part in the all-night recording session, the rewards were greater than any royalties they might have sacrificed. They had come hoping to help a cause, and in the process discovered their own community. Afterward, most of the musicians quickly resumed the projects they had so suddenly interrupted. Tina Turner flew to New York the next day to start rehearsing for her Saturday Night Live performance later that week. Hall and Oates returned East to prepare for their own four-month road trip and Dionne Warwick jetted to Las Vegas where she performed that night at the Golden Nugget. For some, the sense of purpose felt at the all-night session wouldn’t fade with the dawn. Harry Belafonte, self-effacing initiator of the project, boarded a plane the following day for Washington, D.C. There, one day later, he was arrested while picketing outside the South African embassy.
- Contributors: Jonathan Cooper, Lisa Russell, Mary Shaughnessy.
From the movie, “Honeysuckle Rose”
Thank you, Jerry Retzloff for sharing this flyer about upcoming Wittliff Collection Exhibits. Some of Jerry’s collections are on display at the Armadillo Rising: Austin’s Music Scene in the 1970s.
IN 1972 THE AUSTIN MUSIC SCENE EXPLODED WITH A NEW, ROOTSY FORM OF COUNTRY THAT TURNED ITS BACK ON NASHVILLE AND EMBRACED THE COUNTERCULTURE. FORTY YEARS LATER, WILLIE NELSON, JERRY JEFF WALKER, MICHAEL MARTIN MURPHEY, AND A HOST OF OTHER COSMIC COWBOYS AND REDNECK ROCKERS REMEMBER THE FIRST DRIPPING SPRINGS REUNION, THE TIME WAYLON JENNINGS ALMOST GOT BUSTED, AND THE BIRTH OF OUTLAW COUNTRY
by: John Spong
What it was was a generational shift, and not one that Music Row wanted. In the late sixties, Nashville country music was defined by the string-swelling, countrypolitan gloss of Tammy Wynette and Glen Campbell. RCA executive Chet Atkins was a chief architect of the Nashville sound, and when people asked him to define it, he liked to jingle?the change in his pockets and say, “It’s the sound of money.” No tweaks to the formula were tolerated. Even Willie Nelson and Waylon?Jennings, two Texas boys with ideas of their own, were forced to fit the mold. They recorded for RCA, and their records sounded exactly the way Atkins wanted.
The rest of the nation had less success maintaining the old order. In cities like San Francisco, the counterculture was popular culture. Hair was long, love was free, and dope smoking was considered tame. The music ranged from the psychedelic extremes of Jefferson Airplane to the rootsier jangle of Creedence Clearwater Revival, with acts like Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead straddling the two. Nashville, with its pompadours, whiskey, and quiet reliance on truck-driver amphetamines, had no use for any of it. When Los Angeles bands like the Flying Burrito Brothers started playing country rock, winking at Nashville in Nudie suits festooned with rhinestone pot leaves, Music Row responded with disgust.
Halfway between the coasts sat Texas, where hundreds of honky-tonks functioned as Nashville’s farm system. But that music belonged to the old guard. Texas kids were more interested in the state’s thriving folkie circuit. The hub was a Dallas listening room called the Rubaiyat, from which young singer-songwriters like Steve Fromholz and B.?W. Stevenson sallied forth to coffeehouses around the state. The music they played was distinct from the protest songs of Greenwich Village. Texas folk was rooted in cowboy, Tejano, and Cajun songs, in Czech dance halls and East Texas blues joints. It was dance music. And when the Texas folkies started gigging with their rock-minded peers, they found a truer sound than the L.A. country rockers. There was nothing ironic about the fiddle on Fromholz’s epic “Texas Trilogy.”
It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact moment when that sound and scene coalesced into something cohesive enough to merit a name, but then again none of the labels people came up with—cosmic cowboy, progressive country, redneck rock, and, ultimately, outlaw country—made everyone happy. Still, the pivotal year was 1972, and the place was Austin. Liquor by the drink had finally become legal in Texas, which prompted the folkies to migrate from coffeehouses to bars, turning their music into something you drank to. Songwriters moved to town, like Michael Murphey, a good-looking Dallas kid who’d written for performers such as the Monkees and Kenny Rogers in L.A. He was soon joined by Jerry Jeff Walker, a folkie from New York who’d had a radio hit when the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band covered his song “Mr. Bojangles.” In March, Willie played a three-day country festival outside town, the Dripping Springs Reunion, that would grow into his Fourth of July Picnics. Then he too moved to Austin and started building an audience that didn’t look like or care about any Nashville ideal. By the time the scene started to wind down, in 1976, Willie and Austin were known worldwide.
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Dolly, Brenda, Kris & Willie
… The Winning Hand
Produced by Fred Foster
Johnny Cash wrote the liner notes for this album, Dolly, Brenda, Kris and Willie. He wrote something about each artist, and here is what he wrote about Willie:
Like a thief in the night
Like the witch on her broom
The red-headed stranger
Came right through her bedroom
No, actually I’m kidding. He was a little reluctant to walk through the bedroom at eleven o’clock at night with Waylon Jennings and myself. They had come over to see me and I said, “Let’s go into my little back room and sit and talk and pick awhile.” We passed John Carter’s bedroom where he was asleep.
“Come on and follow me,” I said. leading the way through the master bedroom to my little get-away-from-it-all-writing-reading-picking-listening refuge.
“I’m afraid we’ll wake June,” said Willie, tiptoeing past the bed where she slept.
“C0me one,” I said, and the three of us walked Indian style through the dim lit room and into my private place.
“I’ve always been a dreamer. I mean, I have vivid technicolor, wide-screen stereo dreams. Oftimes I dream of things that are happening, sometimes I dream of things that will happen, sometimes I’m dreaming of things even before I’m sound asleep. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of a dream not knowing what the end was to be. I go back to sleep, commanding my mind to finish the dream.
Twenty years ago I had a dream about Willie Nelson. I hadn’t spoken with, nor seen him, in about three years.
In my dream, Willie and I were sitting in a dresing room, swapping songs. I sang him a song I had leanred from a demo which Gene Ferguson had given me called The Ballad of Ira Hayes.
Willie said, “You should do an album of Indian songs.”
“I will,” I said. “I never thought of doing a whole album of Indian stuff”
“You will,” I said. “I never thought of doing a whole album of Indian stuff.”
“You will,” said Willie in my dream. (It’s called Bitter Tears.)
Willie said, “Let me sing you one, John. I thought of you when I wrote it.” “They’re all the same.
The dream was over at the end of they’re all the same.
Next morning I called my secretary. “Try to find me a number where I can call Willie Nelson,” I said. “Willie Nelson, the songwriter. I think he’s living in Nashville.”
An hour later I was talking to him. I congratulated him on the success of some of his big songs he had written recorded by other artists. He kindly returned the compliments. “Willie,” I said. “You might think I’m a little weird, but I dreamed about you last niht.” There was silence on his end, so I went on. “I dreamed you sang a song to me, one you had written clled they’re all the same.”
:Do you have a song called They’re All the Same?” I asked.
“Yes, I do,” he said, barely above a whisper.
“Would you send it to me” I asked. “Maybe I can record it.”
A long pause, then willie said. “Sure, give me your address.”
Willie sent the song and I played it a hundred times, but I never recorded it. I was beginning to get heavily into something else and somewhere along the way, I must have lost the demo of ‘Thy’re All the Same.’
Now, back to 1979. Willie, Waylon and I were sitting in my room just off the bedroom where June was asleep, just off the bedroom where John Carter was asleep.
I hadn’t seen Willie in ten years. The hair was long and plaited. The beard was full and red, and the eyes were clear and intelligent. Waylon kept his hat on and sweated like I do.
I was a little shy myself because I was in the presence of two of country music’s all time greats. I was also a little awed by Willie Nelson for his amazing rise to super stardom.
We sang a few songs quietly. Willie was still concerned with waking June.
“Willie;,” I said, “do you remember ‘They’re all the same’?”
“Man,” he said. “That’s been a long tme ago. Didn’t I send you that?”
“Yes, but I lost it.”
“I’ll send you another tape of it,” he said. “Let me sing you this one.” And he sang a song which became a number one record for him. But he still hasn’t sent me a tap on ‘They’re All the Same.’ Maybe he forgot it, too.
Not more than an hour had passed when Waylon said, “We’d better go, John. I know you and June had already gone to bed.”
“Don’t go,” I said, and to Willie, “I haven’t seen you in so long and I want to spend some more time with you.”
They insised that it was too late to keep me up and again expressed their concern of waking June on the way out.
I led the way and June was still asleep. I stopped and went over and shook June awake. Only the night light was on and as I started to turn on the bedside light, Wilie said, “No, John, don’t do that.”
In the dim light, I said, “June, here’s some old buddies, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.” Waylon went over and hugged her, and Willie knelt down beside the bed and kissed her on the cheek.
“HOw have you been, Miss June?” he said.
June started talking up a storm. “It’s so good to see you both. Why didn’t you wake me, John? Waylon, how’s Jessi? Willie, it’s so good to see you. John and I are so proud for you.”
“Didn’t mean to wake you pu, Miss June,” said Willie, “But it’s good to see you.”
:Oh, that’s alright, stay, John, turn on the light.”
“No, Miss June, we’re going. Hope we didn’t make too much noise.”
“Come back anytime, Willie. Come back, Waylon, and bring Jessie,” said June.
Waylon tipped his hat and followed Willie past John Carter’s bedroom and on out the door.
I waived goodbye to them as they got in the car and closed the door. I started past John Carter’s open bedroom door, back into our bedroom, but he was awake and standing there. “Who’s that, Daddy?” he asked.
“Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.”
He started back to his bed and stopped, “I smell something funny,” he said.
“Like what, John Carter?” I asked.
“I don’t know, he said, crawling under his covers.
Crawling in bed by June, I thought of the miles and the troubles my visitors must have known in their lives. They had been everywhere and done everything, but then so have I, I thought. Maybe I smell funny.
Willie’s a mon on The Willing Hand
Nelson is his name
Some fly high and some fly low
But theyrenot all the same
For a winning man with a winning hand
You never see brought down
One year he might disappear
And no more be seen in town
He’s got lots of things I’ve not
An he’ll master the movie game
He’ll be back along to sing his song
nd they’re not all the same
This record made in this decade
Is this decade’s number one
There is no doubt in my mind without
Willie Nelson it could not have been done
Now my take is said
And I thaik yo, Fred
You are one might man
To work it out
And bring about
The platinum The Winning Hand
— Johnny Cash
Astral Swan’s All My Favorite Singers Are Willie Nelson is a collection of stark psychedelic folk from the unfiltered neuroses of Calgary’s Matthew Swann.
Release date: Feb 24, 2015
The Calgary, Alberta-based singer/songwriter Matthew Swann, who goes by the artistic moniker Astral Swans, declares on the title of his new LP that All My Favorite Singers Are Willie Nelson. Though that influence does crop up throughout the record, it’s also hard to imagine that legendary country singer warbling out lines such as, “Who told the kids in the yard that they¹re mostly dust? / Now they just stay drunk / Keep getting more fucked up”. Such cynicism about the world is an undercurrent throughout All My Favorite Singers, particularly on the song from which the aforementioned lyrics come from, “Beginning of the End”. The track, built on a basic blues structure, incorporates scratchy bits of distortion amidst Swann’s bleak musings, which derive from an act of violence within nature.