Archive for 2017

Willie Nelson, on Guitar

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

New Willie Nelson album, “God’s Problem Child” (Rolling Stone Review)

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017


www.RollingStone.com
by:  Jeff Gage

Country’s ultimate survivor addresses mortality, both humorously and poignantly, on introspective new LP.

Listening to a new Willie Nelson album with a set of fresh ears is almost impossible to do in 2017 – and Nelson knows it. Hovering over all news regarding the Red Headed Stranger are worries about the health of the country icon, who turns 84 on April 29th. So he decided to make the elephant in the room – his own mortality – the focal point of his new LP, God’s Problem Child.

 

Nelson’s first album since his 2015 collaboration with Merle Haggard, Django & Jimmie – the Hag’s final album before his own death – God’s Problem Child is a stark, honest, sometimes bleak, and often funny look at mortality and the specter of his own death. It may not be a concept album, but that grim reality is writ large on nearly every song.

That doesn’t mean God’s Problem Child makes for heavy listening. Nelson brings not only his distinctive sense of humor to the proceedings, but also an appreciation for the moments that he has left, and those individual glimpses of beauty leave a lasting impression. Here’s our track-by-track guide to the new album, which arrives April 28th.

“Little House On the Hill” (Lyndel Rhodes)
The opening track on God’s Problem Child is its jauntiest, and also its most heartwarming, written by Lyndel Rhodes, the 92-year-old mother of Buddy Cannon, the producer and songwriter who co-wrote half the songs on the album. A video of a joyous Rhodes hearing Nelson sing her song for the first time went viral last fall, and the comforting memories of “Little House on the Hill,” a reimagining of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” carry an end-of-days undercurrent that sets the tone for the album.

“Old Timer” (Donnie Fritz/Lenny LeBlanc)
Nelson confronts those end of days head on in “Old Timer,” a mournful, piano-driven ballad that ruminates on the ravages of time – and how time is leaving Nelson behind. “You’ve had your run / and it’s been a good one,” goes the opening line, as though to console the listener before the bad news to come about the “old timer” who thinks he’s “still a young bull rider.” Nelson’s vocal – quivering and frail, thoughtful and proud – is the first of many stellar ones on the record, conveying every ounce of that life well lived.

“True Love” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
Even on the cusp of his 84th birthday, Nelson remains a hopeless romantic. The first writing credit for the Red Headed Stranger on God’s Problem Child, “True Love” is his fire-and-brimstone vision of never giving up hope. But love alone is no salvation: “I’ll go to hell believing true love is still my friend,” he sings, his optimism both a blessing and a curse, his memories – and even his mortal coil – a “prison.” Hopeless, indeed.

“Delete and Fast Forward” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
Much of God’s Problem Child focuses on the personal, but “Delete and Fast Forward” is Nelson’s bemused look at the political world around him, a winner-take-nothing appraisal of today’s mess in the White House. “The truth is the truth, but believe what you choose,” he sings, shrugging at the alternative facts that could make a mushroom cloud feel like a sordid punchline. But even if he’d rather get a fresh start and skip to the next scene, Nelson sees history repeating itself: “We had a chance to be brilliant and we blew it again,” he laments.

“A Woman’s Love” (Mike Reid/Sam Hunter)
Once again, Nelson’s own weathered voice is his greatest, most expressive tool on “A Woman’s Love,” the flip side to the tortured romantic visions of “True Love.” His singing is deep and gruff, conjuring the darkest, most sensual of passions. Accented by fragmented Spanish guitar lines and a wailing harmonica solo, “A Woman’s Love” is a love letter to womankind, but also a cautionary tale – Nelson’s most profound bit of wisdom to impart to his younger self.

“Your Memory Has a Mind” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
If your memory had ears they’d be burning,” Nelson sings on the bridge of this playful tune, which breaks from the heavy tone of God’s Problem Child‘ss other love songs. Yes, he might not be able to control those memories of the one that got away (even smoking and drinking won’t help), but there’s a comic relief in the tortured fate that he finds himself in: “If your memory had a heart, it’d leave me alone,” Nelson sings, knowing full well that it won’t.

“Butterfly” (Sonny Throckmorton/Mark Sherrill)
Coming at the midpoint of the album, this tender ballad by Sonny Throckmorton and Mark Sherrill, underpinned by noodling electric guitar work, turns Nelson’s eye away from his own life and toward that of the natural world. Yet, not exactly: As he ponders the beautiful butterfly flitting in and out of his view, Nelson is contemplating several things at once, like the delicacy and impenetrability of love or the fleeting nature of life itself.

“Still Not Dead” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
Nelson has never been as darkly funny as he is on “Still Not Dead,” a song that he co-wrote with Cannon. Even the self-referential humor of 2012’s “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” has nothing on the caustic black comedy of this song, in which the Red Headed Stranger pokes fun at the constant rumors about his impending death – some, even, that he’s already kicked the bucket. “I woke up still not dead again today,” he croons, all but apologizing for the fact that the rumors aren’t true. Nelson, however, insists that he’s just too busy to die: “I’ve got a show to play.”

“God’s Problem Child” (Jamey Johnson/Tony Joe White)
Death may be something that Nelson can poke fun at, but it’s still no laughing matter – and the title track to God’s Problem Child drives that point home. It’s the only song with guest vocalists, with one coming from beyond the grave: “God’s Problem Child” is believed to be the final song that Leon Russell ever recorded before his death last November. Russell’s passing only adds more heft to this soulful track, which also features Jamey Johnson and Tony Joe White, and it marks a thematic turning point as the album heads into the closing stretch.

“It Gets Easier” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
Several of the songs on God’s Problem Child have been premiered with black-and-white videos of Nelson performing them in the studio with his trusty guitar, Trigger. None, however, are as sweet, as plaintive, or defiant as “It Gets Easier,” the most simple and tender ballad on the album. “I don’t have to do one damn thing that I don’t want to do,” he insists, a man who’s learned to be completely comfortable in his own skin and live on his own terms. But there’s a catch: “Except for missing you / and that won’t go away.”

“Lady Luck” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
Life is a fickle thing, and few people appreciate that more than Nelson. With each passing year, he becomes more of a last man standing as more of his friends and partners in crime pass away. Whatever the reason, Nelson is the outlaw who gets to ride off into the sunset. Waylon, Merle, Leon – their luck all ran out before his, and Nelson is pretty sure Lady Luck is on his side. “I’ll bet you a hundred, if you still got a hundred,” he sings, ready to lay his fortune on the line one more time. It’s all or nothing.

“I Made a Mistake” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
Steel guitar dominates this benediction of a tune, in which Nelson looks back on a life of living by his own rules and admits he may not have done everything right. “I made a mistake: I thought I was wrong,” goes his repentance. He name-checks Jesus, Elvis and Ripley (of Believe It or Not! fame) in the chorus, trying to rationalize his behavior to each, but in the end, he knows his stumbles are all his own. “So if anyone’s praying, a request I would make / is to mention my name, cause I made a mistake.”

“He Won’t Ever Be Gone” (Gary Nicholson)
God’s Problem Child saves its most heartbreaking song for last: Nelson’s tribute to his best friend, Merle Haggard. “Got the news this morning / Knew it’d be a tough day,” goes the opening couplet, as Nelson recalls hearing word of Hag’s death on April 6th, 2016. “He Won’t Ever Be Gone” chronicles the pair’s friendship while mixing in references to Haggard’s best-known songs, but it’s really a shared story involving two giants. As with most of the album, the emotional core of the song, written by Gary Nicholson, lies in what isn’t said — that while Lady Luck may have smiled on Nelson, he misses his larger-than-life friends. After all, even giants are mortal.

Inside the Honeysuckle Rose

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Willie Nelson, “You Were Always on my Mind”

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Willie Nelson & Family Set will stream live from Stagecoach Festival (Saturday, April 29th) (Pandora)

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

www.brooklynvegan.com
by:  Andrew Sacher

Stagecoach Festival, the country music (and more) festival that takes place at Indio, CA’s Empire Polo Club grounds the weekend after Coachella, happens this weekend (set times HERE). If you’re not going to the festival, you can stream it live on Pandora.

Sets that will stream include Willie Nelson, Margo Price, Son Volt, Justin Townes Earle, Nikki Lane, Robert Ellis, John Doe of X, Cowboy Junkies, and more, and there will also be artist interviews streaming throughout the weekend too. Check out the full streaming schedule below. Tune into Pandora’s Stagecoach Station now for “a road trip playlist inspired by the festival.”

Acts playing the festival whose sets won’t be streaming include Jerry Lee Lewis, .38 Special, The Zombies, Tommy James and the Shondells, Cyndi Lauper, Los Lobos, The Long Ryders, The Blasters, The Sadies, and the 4AD-signed John Moreland.

Stagecoach Festival — 2017 Pandora Streaming Schedule

Friday:

Dierks Bentley, Cole Swindell, Randy Houser, Jon Pardi, Maddie & Tae, Elle King, Randy Rogers Band, Son Volt, William Michael Morgan, Justin Townes Earl, Anderson East, Dylan Scott, Ryan Hurd, Quiet Life, Bailey Bryan

Saturday:

Brett Eldredge, Kip Moore, Willie Nelson and Family, Maren Morris, Dan + Shay, Jamey Johnson, Margo Price, Tucker Beathard, Nikki Lane, Robert Ellis, Brent Cobb, John Doe, Traveller, Jonathan Tyler, Brooke Eden, The Walcotts, Ruston Kelly, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Black Pistol Fire, Jackie Lee

Sunday:

Thomas Rhett, Tyler Farr, Cam, Cowboy Junkies, The Cadillac Three, Wynonna & The Big Noise, Terry Allen, Steep Canyon Rangers, Cody Johnson, Luke Combs, Kiefer Sutherland, LANco, Levi Hummon, Courtney Cole, Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, Dan Layus

Happy Birthday, Micah Nelson

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

2015heartbreakerjanis16

photos:  Janis Tillerson

Janis Tillerson took this photo, in Luck, Texas

Micah and his big brother, at Red Rocks.

micahmag2

Texas Music

November 2014

Micah Nelson:  When It Comes to Willie Nelson’s Youngest Son, expect the unexpected
by Steve Uhler

Micah Nelson has been screwing with everyone’s expectations since before he was even born.

His dad originally wanted to name him Jake — a “cowboy name” — but the still-gestating prodigy had other ideas.  “Apparently, when my mother was pregnant with me, she had a dream in which I came to her and said, “Hey, listen.  I’m gonna be showing up soon, so I want to let you know ahead of time.  My name is Micah.  You can call me whatever you want, but that’s my name.  Micah.  OK, great — see you soon.”  Then she woke up and turned to my dad and said, ‘Hey, uh… so his name is Micah, apparently.”

“That wasn’t enough convincing, however.  “They settled on Jacob, Jake for short,” he continues.  “But then I showed up and said my name is Micah.  Only doctors and cops and people at the DMV call me Jacob.”

Anyone expecting Willie Nelson’s youngest son to reflect the spitting image of his iconic father is likely to be simultaneously disappointed and amazed.  Flying in the face of preconceptions — ore -re-anything — is a lifelong motif for the 24-year-old musician.  his music is as similar to his dad’s as John Cage is to Johnny Cash.  Same canvas, wildly different colors.  “Micah has never followed the herd in anything he odes,” says his older brother, Lukas.  “To follow any formula would limit him, which he knows.  He’s as unique as he is creative.”

Even as a toddler, Nelson was messing with people’s heads.  “I started playing harmonica in my dad’s band when I was about three,” he recalls.  “I thought I was just getting harmonica lessons.  I was oblivious to the thousands of people watching.  My Aunt Robyn asked me if I was nervous in front of all those people?  I said, “If I don’t see them, they can’t see me.’  Eventually I got pretty decent at the harmonica, and my dad would throw me the nod to take a solo or two.”

Like his iconoclastic father, Nelson does things his own way — and he does a lot of things.  In addition to being a full-time musician, both with his band, Insects vs Robots, and as a solo artist, he’s an accomplished painter, photographer, filmmaker and animator.  Imagine H.R. Giger channeling John Audobon at a seance with David Lynch, and you’ll get some idea of Nelson’s vision.

As a musician, he eschews the formulaic and polished in favor of the ragged, unformed and spontaneous.  As such a conduit as a creator, Nelson conjures “found sounds” into complex musical works of astonishing depth, imagery and surprising humor.  An intuitive sonic forager, he finds inspiration in serendipitous places:  the rhythm drip of a leaky faucet, the arthritic, groan of an old rocking chair, the distant howl of hungry coyotes in the night.  “When I was in high school, every morning on Maui I’d wake up to the most psychedelic bird calls right outside my window,” he recalls.  “the weirdest riffs.  A human couldn’t write those melodies.  I had a growing suspicion that all birds were just musical robots flying around with little tape decks built into them with old warped tapes that would loop the strangest, tweekiest sounds.”

So do inanimate objects, “I know a guy named Lewellyn with an old creaky rusty cat,” he continues.  “Every time he opens his door it sings the strangest creaky melodies.  I”ve ripped his car’s riffs off countless times.  Sometimes I see music as this mysterious forest to be explored.  Or like archeaology.  You never know what treasures and artifacts you might find, but you can’t know unless you start digging.”

Nelson meticulously builds layers of tracks, weaving a tapestry of songs that are often otherworldly.  Anyone expecting echoes of his dad’s distinctive voice and mainstream op sensibilities will find Nelson’s oeuvre disorienting.  It’s a beguiling mash-up of traditional folk, psychedelia and world beat, peppered with guileless vocals, dissonant chordings and shifting time signatures.  It’s musical Chaos Theory.

“A lot of popular music is so safe, so predictable, like it was processed in a factory,” he explains.  “You can literally go in and buy it at Target next to the Tupperware.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that .. except that a lot of it tends to sound like Tupperware.  Some folks want ot make a pop hit that sells deodorant and plays every five minutes at Walgreens and gets them a Super Bowl halftime show.  I tend to get bored with that intention.  It spooks my horse.”  Perhaps the closest he’s ever come to a traditional love song is “Mosquito,” his bizarre ode to the pesky insect.

micahmag3

PURCHASE THE MAGAZINE AND SEE ALL THE PHOTOS HERE:

http://store.txmusic.com/Departments/TxM-Back-Issues.aspx?sortorder=2&page=4

(more…)

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Willie Nelson and Paula Nelson, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain”

Monday, April 24th, 2017

God Bless Willie Nelson

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Willie Nelson & Friends (Lake Buena Vista, FL) (March 7, 2004)

Monday, April 24th, 2017

DSC_0544

Willie Nelson featured in new movie, “Pure Country: Pure Heart”

Monday, April 24th, 2017


www.popsugar.com

If you prefer entertainment with a heavy dose of country — I’m talking to you, Nashville fans — you’re going to be all about this new movie. Pure Country: Pure Heart, the third installment in the Pure Country series, is the story of teen sisters who head to Nashville to learn more about their late father, a Marine who died in Iraq. When they uncover his secret past life as a musician, they are inspired to follow their own dreams of becoming singer/songwriters. It’s got everything: a great country soundtrack, a Nashville setting (naturally), and Willie Nelson! Yep, the country legend has still got it. Not only is he one of the stars of this movie, his new album God’s Problem Child comes out April 28, a day before his 84th birthday.

In addition to Nelson, the film stars Legally Blonde Broadway star Laura Bell Bundy, along with Kaitlyn Bausch and Cozi Zuehlsdorff as the sisters Ada and Piper. Watch the trailer to get an exclusive first peek at the movie and a taste of the soundtrack, which features 16 new original songs.

Two screenings of Pure Country: Pure Heart will take place at Stagecoach Country Music Festivalon April 28 and April 30 in Indio, CA, where stars Willie Nelson along with Bausch and Zuehlsdorff will be performing. It will be available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD on Aug. 1.

Favorite Willie Nelson Duets

Monday, April 24th, 2017

photo:  Rick Diamond

www.WideOpenCountry.com
by: Kelsey Butterworth

If you’re looking for musical longevity, look no further than America’s most wanted country outlaw, Willie Nelson. He’s still recording and touring like he was twenty years ago. And twenty years before that. Pick any Hall of Fame member, and they’ve probably written a song or two with the Red Headed Stranger. Here are our favorites.

10. “Beer For My Horses” – with Toby Keith

 

 This one makes the list just for sheer absurdity. Country music often deals in novelty hits, and this song about celebratory horse inebriation is no exception. “Beer For My Horses” tells the story of Texan vigilante justice. In the music video, justice in the name of dead prostitutes. For bonus points, check out Keith’s B-side “Weed With Willie” to get a sense of what their sessions were like.

9. “Highwayman” – with The Highwaymen (Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings)

 

The Highwaymen’s biggest hit was this Jimmy Webb cover from their eponymous album, which they released in 1985. With its reverbed drums and synth sounds, it has a distinctly 80s feel to it. Some Highwaymen cuts feel overcrowded, which is the perfectly logical result of four gruff country boys singing at the same time. “Highwayman” has the members of the supergroup trade verses, each more forlorn than the last. When they do harmonize, it’s the best kind of chilling.

8. “Hard To Be An Outlaw” – with Billy Joe Shaver

 

The opener of Shaver’s 2014 effort Long In The Tooth is all about aging, and it features plenty of the clever wordplay that makes country music so appealing. Both Shaver and Nelson are in their eighties, so naturally their reminiscing will have a certain weight to it. The song finds the old hands lamenting not only the trials of their creaky stardom, but the Nashville whippersnappers who “go and call it country / But that ain’t the way it sounds”. Thank goodness these desperados are still on the scene.

7. “Dead Flowers” – with Keith Richards, Hank Williams III and Ryan Adams

 

Does it get better than these four gentlemen covering a Sticky Fingers classic? The live track appears on his 2002 live compilation Willie Nelson & Friends, Stars & Guitars, which features honorable mentions like Bon Jovi and Emmylou Harris. This cover is impeccable. The chorus gets pretty close to a religious experience.

6. “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It” – with Wynton Marsalis

 

Nelson and unofficial New Orleans spokesman Wynton Marsalis released Two Men With The Blues back in 2008, and the entire record is full of killer cuts. Their reworking of this folk classic is a standout. Hearing Nelson front over the bubbly dirge jam from Marsalis’ band will definitely put you in good spirits. Besides, we’re sure Nelson is genuinely distraught at the idea of not being able to buy beer.

5. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” – with Norah Jones

 

Sometimes the best duets are between two artists no one would ever think to pair. Nelson’s rough rodeo vibe goes seamlessly blends with Jones’s jazz fairy charm. This version of the Christmas standard is stripped down just right, giving Nelson and Jones room to balance each other out.

4. “Seven Spanish Angels” – with Ray Charles

 

Spend any time rifling through Nelson’s discography and you’ll find plenty of southwestern and gospel influences, but rarely do you see them together. In this grand retelling of Romeo & Juliet, verse-chorus dynamics combine with impassioned performances to create something divine. Ray Charles always has the charisma of a preacher, so no surprises there. Nelson seems more moved than usual, and the results are otherworldly.

3. “You Remain” – with Sheryl Crow

The closing number on Nelson’s 2002 record The Great Divide features Bonnie Raitt. This live performance from the same year has Nelson harmonizing with Sheryl Crow on a somber look back at an old love. Nelson tends to prefer balladry when he sings with women, but this track is special. What begins as a sort of understated “The Way It Is” swells into rolling hills of gorgeous, bittersweet regret. Both versions are magnificent, but Crow has a slightly bigger vocal role in hers, making it that much more breathtaking.

2. “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” – with Waylon Jennings

 

This is arguably one of the best hits produced by the outlaw country movement. The dusty duet originally appeared on 1978’s record Waylon & Willie. The mournful maternal plea has been recorded by many, but this version has by far been the most popular. Though the pair’s ranching experience is minimal at best, they sure knew what it meant to be lonely on the road.

1. “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die” – with Kris Kristofferson, Snoop Lion and Jamey Johnson

 

Released on green vinyl for Record Store Day 2013, this hilarious ode to the world’s favorite drug has Nelson and friends making a pretty peculiar will & testament request. The bouncy, juke-y tune features fellow Mary Jane enthusiasts Snoop, Kristofferson, and Johnson crooning over plenty of twang and a smattering of accordion. Say what you will about Nelson’s indulgences, but everyone who goes to his funeral is bound to have a real good time.

You May Like

Monday, April 24th, 2017

The Willie Nelson medal by William K. Stidham is available at Lee’s El Taco Garage, in San Antonio, for $10.00.  .  Visit the facebook page for more info.

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

All Willie, All Weekend at KUTX celebrating Willie Nelson’s birthday

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

http://tvradio.blog.austin360.com/

All Willie, all weekend.

That’s what you’ll hear if you tune to 98.9 KUTX-FM April 29-30.

In honor of Willie Nelson’s 84th birthday, the radio station will air “wall-to-wall” Willie from 6 a.m. April 29 to 6 p.m. April 30. That’s 36 straight hours of Nelson’s music – everything from the classics we all know to deep album tracks and even two airings of “Amazing Grace: The Story of Willie Nelson,” a documentary.

From a KUTX news release: “Were it not for Nelson, the Austin music scene would not be as vibrant. As Joe Nick Patoski wrote in the ‘Texas Music Almanac,’ ‘… it wasn’t until the night of Aug. 12, 1972, when Willie Nelson walked onto the stage of the Armadillo (World Headquarters) that everything changed. That performance in front of a mixed crowd of hippies and rednecks is recognized as the starting point of the modern Austin music scene.’”

The full schedule:

Saturday, April 29

  • 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Wall-to-wall Willie Nelson
  • 6 to 7 p.m.: “Amazing Grace” documentary
  • 7 to 11 p.m.: Willie Nelson tribute with Rick Daddy

Sunday, April 30

  • 6 to 7 a.m.: “Amazing Grace” documentary
  • 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.: Gospel/jazz Willie Nelson with Jay Trachtenberg
  • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Wall-to-wall Willie Nelson

RELATED: Details on the 2017 Willie Nelson’s Picnic

 


VIEW COMMENTS 0
0 comments
Down arrowLivefyre
1 person listening

 

+ Follow
Share
Post comment as…