Archive for November, 2006

Willie Nelson Guitar Center Interview (2006)

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Willie Nelson stands in the pouring rain to meet and greet hundreds of fans that have just watched him perform the 2-hour plus set he plays almost every night somewhere in the world. Trigger, his 1969 Martin classical, and Snub-nose, his custom semi-hollow electric, have delivered for Willie another stellar show, and accompanied his 67 year-old voice through one classic song after another. Finally, some two hours after the show has ended, after Willie has obliged the last request from a fan, he sits down for an interview with Guitar Center.

GC: Congratulations on your Grammy nomination and your induction into the Songwriting Hall of Fame.

Willie Nelson: Thank you.

GC: I’ve often heard you refer to yourself as a guitar player, rather than a songwriter. Why is that?

Willie Nelson: That’s really the way I made my living when I was coming along, when I was a young musician, by playing guitar. I could sing a little bit and as the years went by I would sing a little more. But, I really started out playing guitar in my band and other bands.

GC: Have you come to terms with the fact that a lot people also think of you as a great singer/songwriter?

Willie Nelson: Actually, I think of myself more now as a songwriter than I do a guitar player because of guys like Jackie King (a current member of Willie’s band) and Django Reinhardt and all the great guitar players. It’s humbling to be in the presence of that kind of talent.

GC: How big was Django’s influence on your playing?

Willie Nelson: Very. A great deal more than I really thought. A lot of the stuff I was playing earlier, I found out later had come from some Django stuff, his rhythms.

GC: A sense of place permeates your music. I hear a lot more Texas than Nashville.

Willie Nelson: Since I come from Texas, there’s a lot of Texas in me. Just because I cross a state line, I can’t get it all out.

GC: Let’s talk about recording. When you record, what kinds of mic’ing and room choices do you make?

Willie Nelson: If I’m producing the album myself, either one of those things can happen. The last time I recorded was around Christmas time. I did two albums. One was an acoustic album called Rainbow Connection in my studio in Luck, Texas. Then, I went to Los Angeles for a big session for another album called The Great Divide. So I’ve done both extremes. Honestly, I’d just as soon have one mic with the guitar, play acoustic, and let the guitar run through the vocal mic. It runs engineers crazy when you want to do that. (laughs)

GC: I think you’ve earned it.

What are your thoughts on digital recording versus analog recording?

Willie Nelson: Used to be, I wasn’t sure. I have two studios, now. I have a big studio in Austin where I have a whole lot of equipment, both digital and analog. I have another little studio across the street (from where I live), where I just did Rainbow Connection, and it’s all digital. It’s hard for me to tell the difference in the sound.

GC: So you’re happy with it?

Willie Nelson: Yeah. We’re happy with it.

GC: Neil Young is one guy I can think of who seems to be on the analog side of the fence.

Willie Nelson: Maybe so. Of course, it’s everyone’s personal opinion, however they like to hear themselves. I think it has a lot to do with the building you’re in. The studio we’re in is all very old wood, so it’s like recording inside a big speaker. It really sounds good.

GC: With regard to your songwriting process, how do you introduce new songs to the band?

Willie Nelson: We have soundchecks every day. Whatever we’re working on at the moment, we’ll go over those songs at soundcheck. Hopefully, by the time we get to the studio, we’ve already worked them up. It will just be a matter of going in and putting them down.

GC: So everything’s worked out live?

Willie Nelson: We work it out live on the stage. We did one of them tonight, “The Great Divide.” That’s one from the new album that’s coming out that we’re doing on the stage. The other album, Rainbow Connection, I haven’t started doing that yet, but I will.

GC: How does Martin feel about you using one of their guitars (Trigger) for over 30 years?

Willie Nelson: I’m sure they like that. They’ve made a bunch of Trigger look-alikes and they’re great guitars.

GC: Have you ever had the desire to play another acoustic guitar?

Willie Nelson: I’ve never found anything as good to me, for what I was trying to get, as Trigger. I could play it acoustically. I can run it through an amp. It still gets a great sound.

GC: What strings are on Trigger?

Willie Nelson: There’s a guy named Tunin’ Tom that takes care of my guitar. He has a lot of different strings that he uses. I think he has one particular brand that he tries to find, but I’m not sure what they are.

GC: You also played an electric tonight.

Willie Nelson: I have an electric there, on-stage, the little Snub-nose I call it. I play the blues stuff with that. I play it more during a longer show, but mostly I stay with the acoustic.

GC: Finally, is there a point or year in your career you look on with more fondness?

Willie Nelson: This is better than anything. It has been very good for a long time. For a long time before that, it was fine. It wasn’t great. I was doing well and traveling around. But, then things starting clicking pretty much back when the Red-Headed Stranger album came out. Since then, it has been easier. Recently, the last couple of years, it seems like we’ve gotten hotter than ever.

GC: Thank you very much for sitting down with me at the end of a long night.

Willie Nelson: Thank you for waiting.

(Sorry, I don’t know who the interviewer is.)

The Willie Nelson Doll On the Road Again, in New York City, visits Rupert’s Deli

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Willie Nelson on the Charlie Rose Show (7/13/1999)

Thursday, November 30th, 2006


A DVD of Willie Nelson’s appearance on the Charlie Rose Show on July 13, 1999, is now available on DVD.  Lyle Lovett is on the show, as well.  First, an interview with country music star Willie Nelson. He introduces his new instrumental album, Night and Day, discusses the tragedy of the loss of his child, and looks back at his 1996 performance at Farm Aid with the Beach Boys. Also, singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett shares his new recording Live in Texas, an homage to his home state. Later, he reflects on the evolution of his musical career and his acting roles in four Robert Altman films.

The DVD is available through, and probably some other places, too.  Google it.

Willie Nelson, “Still is Still Moving to Me”

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Willie Nelson on “The Simpsons (5/21/2000) “Behind the Music”

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006


A la VH-1’s Behind the Music, a behind the scenes look is taken at the Simpson family’s rise to fame, their successful years together and then their feud which resulted in a breakup and solo careers for the family members. The history is as follows: Homer decides to start a television show in the 1980s. He sends in a tape of their family antics to the major networks, and even FOX. They soon become successful, so successful that they waste money. They put out terrible records to supplement their income. Homer gets injured filming a scene, beginning his long addiction to painkillers. They start having financial problems due to their outrageous spending. Apu rats them out to the IRS and they lose everything. The episodes’ plots get really lame, too. Bart goes to jail, being replaced by Richie Rich. When he returns, they agree to do an appearance at the Iowa State Fair. It goes to hell when they get in an argument onstage. This is the end of the Simpsons, or is it? Each goes on to do solo projects and they all hold grudges. Homer returns to his first love, the theatre, where he was dissed for literally eating the set. Marge opens a nightclub named “Marge and Friends,” Lisa writes a book, and Bart gets a TV show. Perhaps through the efforts of Dr. Hibbert’s old college buddy Willie Nelson (musician/taxpayer) the family might be reunited to bring their brand of entertainment back to the millions of viewers who tune in each week.  

Willie Nelson contributes song on “The Pilgrim”, a celebration of Kris Kristofferson

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

I forgot all about this cd that came out in July of this year.  What a great collection of artists.  Who wouldn’t agree to being part of a project honoring this great singer/songwriter? 

  1. The Pilgrim;  Chapter 33, (with EmmyLou Harris
  2. Maybe you Heard:  (with Todd Snider) 
  3. The Circle (with Marta Gomez)
  4. Lovin Him Was Easier Than Anything Ill Ever Do Again – (with Rosanne Cash)
  5. Come Sundown – (with Rodney Crowell)
  6. For The Good Times – (with Lloyd Cole/Jill Sobule)
  7. Jesus Was A Capricorn – (with Marshall Chapman)
  8. Silver Tongued Devil & I, (with Shooter Jennings)
  9. Sunday Mornin Comin Down – (with Gretchen Wilson)
  10. Sandinista – (with Patty Griffin/Charanga Cakewalk)
  11. Darbys Castle – (with Russell Crowe)
  12. Me & Bobby McGee – (with Brian McKnight)
  13. Smile At Me Again – (with Randy Scruggs)
  14. Captive, The – (with Jessi Colter)
  15. Help Me Make It Through The Night – (with Bruce Robinson/Kelly Willis)
  16. Why Me – (with Shawn Camp)
  17. Legend, (with Wille Nelson)
  18. Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends

Honolulu Star-Bulletin 1996 Interview with Willie Nelson

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Tim Ryan had the great opportunity to sit with Willie following a 1996 concert in Honolulu.  Here is that interview:

star-Bulletin:  How old were you when you got interested in playing music?

Willie Nelson:  I started writing poems at 4 or 5 years old, learned to play guitar at 6, then started putting melodies to those poems.

SB:  Was radio an influence at that early age?

WN:  I’d listen to the radio at night and hear everything that was there, like the Grand Ole opry out of Nashville.  I listened to all kinds of music. 

SB:  How did you go from writing poetry and an interest in performing to forming a band?

WN:  My sister (Bobbie) and I played together when we were growing up.  She played piano and organ.  I played guitar.  I’d sit on the piano stool and play along with her — did that for years.  then we got in school and we played during study hall periods.  I put together my first band in high school.

SB:  Weren’t you a disc jockey in the late ’50’s?

WN:  At Vancouver, Washington, KVAN.  I lived in Portland Oregon, then Eugene, where my mother lived.

SB:  Was it about this time you started recording music?

WN:  Yeah.  One of the first things I did was in a guy’s basement in Vancouver — “No Place for Me” and “Lumberjack.”

SB:  The first famous song you recorded was “Family Bible.”

WN:  It was really sort of autobiographical, wasn’t difficlut to write at all — sold it for $50.00

SB:  So you moved to Nashville and said, “I’m going to be a songwriter”?

WN:  I thought I was one before I got there.  I thought I could do ok as a songwriter, especially after “Family Bible” did well.  If I could write one, I could write two.

SB:  In Nashville, you put out some all-time classics.

WN:  I was working in Houston, in fact, living in Pasadena (Texas) — driving all the way from Hempstead Highway back over to Pasadena every night.  I wrote songs on the way back and forth.   In one week over there, I wrote ‘Crazy,” “Funny How Time Slips Away”, and “Night Life.”  So, when I went to Nashville, I had those ready to go.  it was a good week. (more…)

“Broken Bridges”, starring Toby Keith, Lindsey Haun, Willie Nelson on CMT (12/15/06)

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Toby Keith’s film, Broken Bridges, will have its television premiere on Dec. 15 on CMT at 8 p.m. ET/PT. The DVD will be released Jan. 9, 2007. The cast also includes Kelly Preston, Tess Harper, Willie Nelson, Lindsey Haun and Burt Reynolds. Broken Bridges is a bittersweet story of former high school sweethearts who return home after the deaths of their younger brothers. The film features original music and performances by Keith and Haun.

Willie Nelson Signs Autographs For His Fans

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Willie Nelson song on Rachel Ray’s 2006 Christmas album, “How Cool is That?”

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006


Rachel Ray has put together a nice collection of Chriistmas songs, and her good taste is illiustrated by her inclusion of a Willie Nelson tune.

  1. Santa Bring My Baby Back (to me)   Elvis Presley
  2. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm  Billie Holiday
  3. Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth; Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth   David bowie, David and Bing Crosby
  4. The Man With the Bag   Jane Monheit
  5. Zat You Santa Clause    Poindexter, Buster and His Banshees of Blue
  6. Jinglebell Rock   Daryl Hall and John Oates
  7. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christma   Doris Day
  8. Blue Christmas   Willie Nelson
  9. Dominick the Donkey  Lou Monte
  10. Winter Wonderlan   Aretha Franklin
  11. White Christmas  Frank Sinatra
  12. Auld Lange Syne   Gato Barbieri

This Day in Willie Nelson History (11/28/1964) Grand Ole Opry Debut

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006


November 28, 1964           Willie Nelson dubuted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry

Grand Ole Opry

The Grand Ole Opry is a weekly Saturday night country music radio program broadcast live on WSM radio in Nashville, Tennessee. It is the oldest continuous radio program in the United States, having been broadcast on WSM since November 28, 1925. It is also televised and promotes live performances both in Nashville and on the road.


The Grand Ole Opry started out as the WSM Barn Dance in the new fifth floor radio station studio of the National Life & Accident Insurance Company. The featured performer on the first show was Uncle Jimmy Thompson, a fiddler who was then 77 years old. The announcer was program director George D. Hay, known on the air as “The Solemn Old Judge.” He was only 30 at the time and was not a judge, but was an enterprising pioneer who launched the Barn Dance as a spin-off of his National Barn Dance program at WLS Radio in Chicago, Illinois. Some of the bands regularly featured on the show during its early days included the Possum Hunters, the Fruit Jar Drinkers, the Crook Brothers and the Gully Jumpers. They arrived in this order. However, Judge Hay liked the Fruit Jar Drinkers and asked them to appear last on each show because he wanted to always close each segment with “red hot fiddle playing.” They were the second band accepted on the “Barn Dance.” And, when the Opry began having square dancers on the show, the Fruit Jar Drinkers always played for them.

In 1926, Uncle Dave Macon, a Tennessee banjo player who had recorded several songs and toured the vaudeville circuit, became its first real star. The name Grand Ole Opry came about in December, 1927. The Barn Dance followed NBC Radio Network’s Music Appreciation Hour, which consisted of classical music and selections from grand opera. Their final piece that night featured a musical interpretation of an onrushing railroad locomotive. In response to this Judge Hay quipped, “Friends, the program which just came to a close was devoted to the classics. Doctor Damrosch told us that there is no place in the classics for realism. However, from here on out for the next three hours, we will present nothing but realism. It will be down to earth for the ‘earthy’.” He then introduced the man he dubbed the Harmonica Wizard — DeFord Bailey who played his classic train song “The Pan American Blues”. After Bailey’s performance Hay commented, “For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera. From now on we will present the ‘Grand Ole Opry.'” The name stuck and has been used for the program since then. (more…)

Paul Doyle’s Interview With Willie Nelson

Monday, November 27th, 2006


I had been lightly harassing the Willie Nelson press contacts for some time now for an interview, never really imagining that they would acquiesce to my delusions. I asked again in connection to his Tuesday, August 4th show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Mistakenly I thought I was told that he only did interviews after the tour, at which point I knew I was caught in a Catch 22, since he is always on tour. Regardless, I faxed my request for tickets and an interview. I was informed in uncertain terms, that my petition would be considered. Finally, the day before the show, I called back wondering what was up, figuring that the powers that be were too busy to deal with my fanciful entreaty. Low and behold, I was dumbfounded to discover that I had been granted a post show (he does interviews after shows, not after tours) interview with none other than Willie Nelson.

The show itself was classic Willie. Over two and half hours of music spanning four decades of music from one of the most prolific songwriters in history. The basic formula to a Willie Nelson and Family show consists of basically a few songs from practically every major Nelson album since he took control of his career in the early 70s. As usual The Family consisted of his sister Bobbie Nelson on piano, Bee Spears on bass, Mickey Raphael on harmonica, Jody Payne on rhythm guitar, and Paul English on drums. Commander Cody also joined them on stage to help with percussion. I did not keep a set list this time, but when it was over, the crowd had been treated to at least 50 musical gems, including an encore of half a dozen songs. The personal highlight for me, was when Willie switched to electric guitar to play material from his forthcoming blues album, which will be preceded by his latest release Teatro. Adding to the entertainment for the evening was the growing number of youths at the concert, creating an audience age gap that can aptly be described as grandparents and grandchildren, who did not come to the show together, and certainly have different ideas of how to behave at a show. Fortunately there is room for everyone.

When the show ended I had to credential my way through the faithful crowd and too often Neanderthal SPAC security using the simple Jedi mind trick to get to the rear of the venue, where after a brief wait, I was led onto the bus of Willie Nelson. One look into the eyes of this man and you become immediately aware that you are that you are in the presence of a soul wise beyond lifetimes. There is compassion, understanding and a calming peace that pervades everything, even my nerves, which would otherwise have careened out of control. The experience reminded me of this passage from Stephen Mitchell’s Tao Te Ching.
(Some of the questions are from a WFSW DJ who was also present for part of the interview.)

WFSW- How’s your golf game? W.N.- Well my golf game is up and down, you know some days it’s not that bad and some days it’s not that good. But I keep going out there..

V.R.- Your tour schedule is booked through November, you played 2 ½ hours tonight, how do you keep your energy up night after night?

W.N.- I don’t know. I enjoy what I do, and the audience seems to enjoy it, and there’s a little energy exchange there [that] probably has a lot to do with ito do with it

WFSW- What is in going to be happening with Willie Nelson in the next century?

W.N.- I don’t know, I don’t plan that far ahead, I really don’t. I have no long range plans, I just…I’m enjoying what I’m doing right now.

V.R.- With such a schedule, one of the problems the Grateful Dead suffered from throughout the nineties was going through the motions when they just don’t have the energy. Does that ever happen to you? (more…)

Great news! Willie’s making another movie (Blonde Ambition, with Luke Wilson, Jessica Simpson!)

Monday, November 27th, 2006


No surprise that these two artists enjoy each other’s company.  They difinitely have fun together.  Jessica Simpson and Willie appeared together in “Dukes of Hazzard, and now, Jessica is starring in “Blonde Ambition” a show being shot in Louisiana, and Willie is in the movie, as well.  Here’s the news:

A new crop of celebrities has come to Shreveport to punch the clock. “Blonde Ambition” begins filming Tuesday. The movie stars Jessica Simpson and Luke Wilson.Producer Joe Simpson, father of Jessica, describes the feature as a cross between “Working Girl” and “Pretty Woman.” For the next three weeks and three more in January, the cast and crew will work to transform Shreveport into New York. How?“Very specifically,” Joe Simpson answers with a chuckle. “A lot of the shots are specific alleys where we use long lens, and a lot of (the shots) are set inside an office.”“Blonde Ambition” is being produced by Millennium Films (“Homeland Security”) and Papa Joe Films. It also stars Rachael Leigh Cook, Andy Dick, Penelope Ann Miller and Willie Nelson.

Jessica’s new Hollywood role has her trading in the blue vest and name tag for a business suit.   

We’ve seen her strut her stuff in cut-off jeans and cowboy boots in ‘The Dukes of Hazzard,’ and she showed off her blue collar skills in ‘Employee of the Month,’ but now JESSICA SIMPSON is planning to take on the corporate world in ‘Blonde Ambition.’

According to the film’s producer — former “Malcolm in the Middle” star JUSTIN BERFIELD — Jessica has signed on to reprise the role MELANIE GRIFFITH originated, in a remake of the 1988 comedy ‘Working Girl.’ The role earned Griffith an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

“The second we got the script, we just knew we had to go to her first,” Berfield told MTV News. “Fortunately, she fell in love with the script as well.”

The movie centers around a secretary struggling to get ahead in the corporate world, who eventually works her way to the top.

Willie Nelson, “Pretty Paper”

Monday, November 27th, 2006

“Pretty Paper”, released June 1, 2002, is my favorite Willie Nelson Christmas album.  If you don’t have it, buy it for yourself for Christmas.  If you have it, buy it as a gift for someone.  It’s a great collection of holiday tunes, including the beautiful melancholy song written by Willie Nelson,  “Pretty Paper.”

Released:  June 1, 2002

Song list:

1. Pretty Paper
2. White Christmas
3. Winter Wonderland
4. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
5. Jingle Bells
6. Here Comes Santa Claus
7. Blue Christmas
8. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
9. Frosty the Snowman
10. Silent Night
11. O Little Town of Bethlehem
12. Christmas Blues