Archive for the ‘Albums’ Category

Willie Nelson, “On the Road Again: Lifting Lives Edition”

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

www.BillBoard.com
by: Paul Grein

Nelson wrote “On the Road Again” for the 1980 film ‘Honeysuckle Rose,’ in which he starred. It brought him a Grammy and an Oscar nomination.

Willie Nelson is featured on a new version of his classic hit “On the Road Again,” along with all 10 of this year’s ACM Awards’ nominees for new female and new male artist. The single, dubbed “On the Road Again (ACM Lifting Lives Edition),” will benefit ACM Lifting Lives COVID-19 Response Fund.

The single, produced by Ross Copperman and Jimmy Robbins, will be available via Warner Music Nashville. It will be released to country radio on Thursday (Aug. 13).

COVID-19 caused the 55th ACM Awards to be delayed from their initial April 5 date to Sept. 16. That has kept this year’s nominees for new male and new female artist of the year in suspense – but has also allowed them to stay under the nominee spotlight longer. They are Ingrid Andress, Gabby Barrett, Jordan Davis, Russell Dickerson, Lindsay Ell, Riley Green, Caylee Hammack, Cody Johnson, Tenille Townes and Morgan Wallen.

“First Rose of Spring” (review)

Monday, August 10th, 2020

www.thepaulleslie.com
by: Paul Leslie

Whether we’re in the good times or the world is on fire, the only sure thing is that Willie Nelson will release a new album. He’s been doing so year after year since  his debut as a recording artist in 1962. There’ve only been a couple of years where there was no new Willie Nelson record. However, in several years there were multiple Willie Nelson records.

As a recording artist, the great volume of Willie’s output is only matched by the quality. We think of 20/20 as being perfect vision. Looking clearly at the year 2020, I find myself wanting to close my eyes more than keeping them open. But I get by with a little help from my friends.

Speaking of which, my good friend Jeff Pike got on the horn to talk about music reviews. He told me, “You can’t give every album a great review,”PAUSE  “Not everyone’s album is perfect.”  I replied, “Yes, unless you’re Willie Nelson.” Jeff answered “Well, true.”

This phone call with Jeff is what inspired this review of Willie Nelson’s 70th album entitled “The First Rose of Spring,” produced by Buddy Cannon. Buddy has been credited as record producer of almost every single Willie Nelson release since the 2012 album “Heroes,”

I’ll be expressing what struck me about Willie Nelson’s 70th album. 

The First Rose of Spring

The album starts in the soul, which is where Willie’s music lives. The title track, “The First Rose of Spring” tells a mournful story.  We think of roses for their beauty, but so often what is beautiful devastates us the most. Willie’s voice has always been suited for the bittersweet. This song written by Nashville heavyweights Allen Shamblin, Randy Houser and Marc Beeson lets you know that this is going to be an album true to country music’s most important component: hard-hitting emotional lyrics.

Blue Star

“Blue Star,” is the second song on the album, which Willie co-wrote with Buddy Cannon. Sonically, this track is great. The steel guitar gives it a nostalgic quality, but it also seems very youthful, hopeful and idealistic. It’s a soothing track and one of the real highlights on the album. It grabbed me instantly.

Don’t Let the Old Man In

Willie Nelson is not old. Despite being 87, I have never thought of him as an old man. I’m betting this is the case for a lot of you. He’s timeless, and“time” is a constant theme in the songs he writes and those he chooses to cover. On the last album “Ride Me Back Home,” he even called time his friend on the brilliant song “Come on Time.”

Growing old and time is the subject of “Don’t Let the Old Man In” written by Toby Keith. Toby wrote it after having a conversation with director Clint Eastwood. Clint’s sage advice inspired this song. 

Sometimes worlds collide and in this case, Toby Keith, Clint Eastwood and Willie Nelson came together. One moment in time: a simple conversation is immortalized in song. This is the magic and gift that is songwriting and storytelling.

Read entire article here.

Willie Nelson, “Our Song”, from new album, “Last Rose of Spring”

Monday, July 27th, 2020

Willie Nelson’s new album is so good. It’s so beautiful. His voices makes these songs so beautiful. Thank you, WIllie.

Track List:

1. First Rose Of Spring (Randy Houser, Allen Shamblin and Mark Beeson)
2. Blue Star (Willie Nelson, Buddy Cannon)
3. I’ll Break Out Again Tonight (Sanger “Whitey” Shafer, Doodle Owens)
4. Don’t Let The Old Man In (Toby Keith)
5. Just Bummin’ Around (Pete Graves)
6. Our Song (Chris Stapleton)
7. We Are The Cowboys (Billy Joe Shaver)
8. Stealing Home (Marla Cannon-Goodman, Casey Beathard and Don Sampson)
9. I’m The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised (Wayne Kemp, Bobby Borchers and Mack Vickery)
10. Love Just Laughed (Willie Nelson, Buddy Cannon)
11. Yesterday When I Was Young (Hier Encore) (Charles Aznavour and Herbert Kretzmer)

Friday, July 24th, 2020

Willie Nelson’s “Red Headed Stranger”

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

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We revisit Nelson’s 1975 concept album Red Headed Stranger – his first release on Columbia Records, a record giving Nelson total creative control, and one that tells the story of a fugitive on the run after killing his wife and her lover, told with brief song-poems and minimal backing.

www.acousticmagazine.com

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During the mid-1970s, the country music coming out of Nashville was slick, polished, and heavy on string sections. By that time, Willie Nelson had recorded over a dozen albums for RCA, and he’d had enough of Music Row, where ‘they took him seriously as a songwriter, but not as a performer,’ says Mickey Raphael, Nelson’s harmonica player of over 40 years. Nelson moved back to Texas, his home state, and released two albums on Atlantic, including his first concept album, Phases And Stages, only to be dropped along with the label’s other country artists when Atlantic closed its country division. In 1973, when Columbia Records put an offer on the table, Nelson and his manager, Neil Reshen, put it in writing that Nelson would have full creative control over his music, and that the label would accept the finished product as is. The label, of course, had no idea that the result, the stripped-down concept album Red Headed Stranger, recorded with his band, would go against the grain of everything that they had in mind for their first project with the artist, and everything that encompassed the way Nashville made records.

‘Willie wasn’t bending the rules, he was breaking them,’ says Raphael. ‘Using his road band on a record? That was never done. We weren’t studio musicians, so for him to do that was kind of a “stick it to Nashville” coup. And the label turned it down. They said, “This is a great demo. We want to add some voices and strings.” Willie said, “No. This is it. This is the finished product.” They said, “Let’s put this on the shelf. For your first record for Columbia, do another one the way we want you to do it, and then we’ll put out Red Headed Stranger.” Willie basically said “Fuck you.” He said, “My contract says you’ve got to put out what I’m giving you,” and they had to — very reluctantly.’

The concept for Red Headed Stranger began with the title track, a song that Nelson did not write, but that he often sang during his years as a radio disc jockey in Texas. With the song as his centrepiece, Nelson created the story of a man on the run after killing his wife and her lover. Love, infidelity, guilt, remorse, redemption, and love rediscovered are the album’s themes.

Nelson and his band — drummer Paul English, guitarist Jody Payne, bassist Bee Spears, pianist Bobbie Nelson, and Raphael — recorded the album at Autumn Sound Studios in Garland, Texas, with engineer Phil York, who was hired on Raphael’s recommendation. ‘I lived in Dallas at the time, and I had been doing jingles and commercials, which is how I met Phil,’ says Raphael. ‘I had known him for several years. I was working out of Summit Burnett Studios with [banjo player] Smokey Montgomery, one of the original [Dallas-Fort Worth western swing band] Light Crust Doughboys. I was in junior college at the time and I would hang out at the studio after classes. I was really interested in recording and I loved being there. I would sit in the lobby, and people would come in to cut demos and book sessions. The recording engineer would say, “Do you need a harmonica player? Do you want harmonica on this?” If they said yes, he would bring me in. So I’d been in the studio for three or four years by the time we made the album. The fact that Willie wanted to record with the band was pretty exciting.’

Nelson didn’t know Phil York, but he took Raphael’s word, as well as the availability of a modern room in which to work. ‘It was a good studio, so it was, “I’ve got this record to do,” and “Well, I’ve got a studio we can use,”’ says Raphael. ‘It was a brand new, high-tech studio, but it wasn’t a soundstage. It was intimate and small enough that we could see each other. Piano and drums might have been in other rooms, but Bee, Willie, and I were sitting and facing each other.’

The sessions marked the first time that the musicians recorded with Nelson, and the first time that they heard the new songs.

‘Willie would sit there with pieces of paper, start playing these songs, and kind of teach them to us while the tape was rolling,’ says Raphael. ‘The reason the album is so sparse is mainly because we were a small band, and we were hearing everything for the first time, listening and reacting. It wasn’t like he drilled the songs into us, and we rehearsed and recorded them. He was pretty much playing them stream-of-consciousness, and we played the songs a couple of times at the most. They’re easy to play, and I was just glad to be in the studio with him because I love the recording process, but as you can see, nobody is showboating. It wasn’t a vehicle for anyone to show off and play. We really took it seriously. There is just simplicity and so much silence on that record because we were all enamored of Willie and of how beautiful and simple the project was.’

Clocking in at 33 minutes, Red Headed Stranger became Nelson’s breakthrough album, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and selling over two million copies. His version of Fred Rose’s ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ became his first number one single on the Billboard country charts, and the next single, ‘Remember Me’ reached number two.

Over the years, much has been made about the fact that Red Headed Stranger was recorded and mixed in a matter of days, but that timeline is not unusual for Nelson, according to Raphael.

‘We do an album now in five days,’ he says. ‘A week for Willie is a long time. I think we cut Teatro in half that time. With Red Headed Stranger, maybe he was still writing it at the time, or we were gigging at night and might have had just a few hours in the day to do it. Regardless, we didn’t rush at all, but those songs were done pretty close to live — first, second, or third takes. Even now, Willie will sing four or five passes at the most, and the band gets it in a couple of takes.’

Raphael and his band mates had no idea that they’d recorded what would become an iconic album.

‘We weren’t doing anything like what they played on the radio, so I thought, “Oh boy, they’re not going to like this one,”’ he says. ‘But the people liked it. Willie chose ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ as the single, and radio picked up on it. There was a buzz already around Willie when the album came out. We were playing the Fourth of July picnics and he was like the King of Texas. When we’d play the Opry in Nashville — not the Ryman, but where they do the television show — all the diehards were there and we weren’t the most popular. But in Texas, the crowds were big. The single went to number one and we began playing bigger dance halls. We were touring all the time. Columbia saw that it was a hit, so they were promoting us, they were working the radio end of it, and now all of a sudden it’s their idea; what a great idea theyhad.’

Legacy Recordings reissued the album in 2000 with four bonus tracks: ‘Bach Minuet In G,’ ‘I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You)’, ‘A Maiden’s Prayer’, and ‘Bonaparte’s Retreat’.

‘They were outtakes, not part of the album sessions,’ says Raphael. ‘It’s always good to include some bonus tracks on a reissue, and just because we didn’t release those songs before doesn’t mean they should be thrown away. When we go into the studio, we warm up with songs like ‘Bonaparte’s Retreat’. Willie will start doodling around and playing and see what direction we’re going in. Now, he’s got a set list of songs he wants to do, but back then we were a little less focused.’

For Willie Nelson, the road never ends as he continues logging countless tour dates every year. Raphael lovingly calls him “the benevolent dictator,” noting, ‘because, in a subtle way, he’ll tell us what he wants. He doesn’t ever really tell you what to do, but we know he’s obviously the boss, but in a very gentle way. Case in point: I love the accordion, it’s my favorite instrument, so I pulled my accordion out onstage, I’m playing it on some ballad, and I thought it was brilliant. Very diplomatically, he turned around after a couple of nights of me playing the accordion, and he goes, ‘You know, Mickey, I really like the way you play the harmonica.’ And I got it. I understood what he was trying to say. He’s a great guy to be around. I love his music. I love his guitar playing. I love his writing. I’m a fan.’

Between touring and recording with Nelson, and doing session work, Raphael is working on a special project: a DVD/three CD live box set of The Highwaymen: Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson. The DVD is a remastered two-hour concert, 35 songs, from a 1990 concert at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York. The original concert, shot on film, has been transferred to HD; Raphael mixed it in surround sound. The audio is also captured on two CDs, with the third disc featuring nine songs from Farm Aid. The box set, not yet titled, is expected in time for a summer 2015 release.

40 years later, ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ remains a staple in Nelson’s concerts, while Red Headed Stranger has cemented its place in music history.

‘I think it speaks the truth, and you can’t argue with that,’ says Raphael of the album’s continued success. ‘And maybe people were ready for a change, for a whole new paradigm, when it came out. The establishment at that time, the big acts of the day — George Jones, Mel Tillis, Marty Robbins, Ray Price, Eddie Arnold — those guys are classics and I love them, but it was slick, cosmopolitan country. There was a formula for making records in Nashville, and the audience was ready for something different. You had five musicians on a record instead of twelve. It was simple. It brought things back to basics. There’s a lot of breathing room on that album.’

www.willienelson.com
http://www.acousticmagazine.com/features/willie-nelsons-red-headed-stranger/

Sunday, July 19th, 2020

Shop Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson, “I’m the Only Hell My Mother Ever Raised”

Friday, July 17th, 2020

Willie Nelson, “First Rose of Spring”

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

Willie Nelson sings with Jeannie Seely on her new album, “

Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

www.musicrow.com
by: Sherod Robertson

Country music artist, Opry star, and beloved Nashville music royalty, Jeannie Seely, is celebrating her 80th birthday today (June 6) with the announcement of her highly-anticipated album, An American Classic, on Curb Records.

The August 14th release is available on all digital music platforms today for pre-order, pre-save and pre-add. The project includes a duet with longtime friend, Willie Nelson, called, “Not A Dry Eye In The House,” available today.

The classic country ballad was written by singer/songwriter Dallas Wayne, who also serves as an on-air personality on SiriusXM Ch. 59, Willie’s Roadhouse, where Seely is a weekly host every Sunday afternoon on her show, Sunday’s With Seely.

Click here for the album.

“I don’t know what I envisioned my 80th birthday would look like, but I never imagined I’d start the day with Coffee, Cody and Country, on WSM 650 and Circle TV!,” exclaims Seely. “To have a duet with Willie Nelson be the first song released from my upcoming album is icing on the cake…the cake being this album called An American Classic. You don’t get more classic than Willie Nelson, and ‘Not A Dry Eye In The House’ is the perfect example of a classic country song. This is the best 80th birthday gift I could ever imagine. Thank you Don Cusic, B! Noticed PR and Curb Records!”

Curb Professor of Music Industry History at Belmont University, Don Cusic, shares, “This is real country music! Jeannie Seely is a living legend and Grammy Award winner. She is ‘Country Soul,’ and her soulful vocals are evident on this album, which showcases her versatile talents. She is a favorite of fans, as well as country singers who admire and respect her talent and love her as a classy lady. The title of this album, An American Classic fits her perfectly. The album, like Jeannie, is An American Classic.”

The album’s Executive Producer is Jim Ed Norman. The idea for the project was curated by Cusic who oversaw production, with help from country music icon Ray Stevens on the song “To Make A Dream Come True.”

Jeannie Seely – An American Classic Track List:
1. “So Far, So Good” – Penn Pennington, Mitch Ballard (Recorded with The Whites’ Sharon and Cheryl White)

2. “If You Could Call It That” – Dottie West, Steve Wariner, Bobby Tomberlin (Recorded with Steve Wariner)

3. “To Make a Dream Come True” – C.W. “Buddy Kalb” Jr.

4. “Teach Me Tonight” – Sammy Cahn, Gene De Paul

5. “Can I Sleep in Your Arms Tonight, Mister” – Hank Cochran

6. “All Through Crying Over You’” – Jeannie Seely (Recorded with Rhonda Vincent)

7. “When Two Worlds Collide” – Roger Miller, Bill Anderson (Recorded with Bill Anderson)

8. “Not a Dry Eye in the House” – Dallas Wayne (Recorded with Willie Nelson)

9. “Peaceful Waters”- Don Cusic

10. “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle to You)” – Pebe Sebert, Hugh Moffatt (Recorded with Waylon Payne)

11. “That’s How I Roll” – Tim Atwood, Brent Ronen (Recorded with Lorrie Morgan on vocals, Vince Gill on guitar)

12. “Don’t Touch Me” – Hank Cochran

13. “Dance Tonight” – Paul McCartney  (Recorded with Ray Stevens)

Here they are singing together a few years back:

New albums from Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Bob Dylan

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

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

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

Willie Nelson’s, “First Rose of Spring”

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

New Willie Nelson album, “First Rose of Spring”

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

www.theartsdesk.com
by: Liz Thomson

Listening to Willie Nelson’s latest album is like pulling on a pair of beloved beat-up cowboy boots. The declarative vocal over simple guitar, a touch of Hammond, a plaintive harmonica and then one of those characteristic country music key changes… and of course a distinctive Nelson guitar solo on his battered old nylon-stringed Martin. The song which gives the album its title is the opener and immediately you’re swept away.

First Rose of Spring is Nelson’s seventieth solo studio album (there’s a score of others) and it was originally scheduled for release in April as he turned 87. Breathing problems forced him to cancel some tour dates last year and as a result he’s given up smoking. The album finds him very much on song.

His is a unique voice, instantly recognisable – the sonic equivalent of a face on Mount Rushmore. It’s remarkably secure for a man of his years, even on the melismata, and his clear diction means he’s always the perfect storyteller, whether singing his own classic songs or those of others. Rose features two new numbers co-written with producer Buddy Cannon, another of country music’s greats: “Blue Star” and “Love Just Laughed.”

Nelson is ever the outlaw, and two songs play to that image: “I’m the Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised”, and “I’ll Break Out Again Tonight”, in which a man “in stripes” dreams of life on the outside in a classic slice of two-chord country.

As for “Just Bummin’ Around”, you half expect to hear Patsy Cline’s voice in this wonderfully retro soft-shoe shuffle. There’s a beguiling honky-tonk account of Toby Keith’s “Don’t Let the Old Man In”, with its homespun advice (“Try to love on your wife/ And stay close to your friends/ Toast each sundown with wine”) which Nelson has certainly heeded. Yet from the poignant title track on, there’s an inevitable sense of mortality about the album, emphasized by its closing track, a cover of the old Charles Aznavour & Herbert Kretzmer number.

But “Yesterday When I Was Young” is sung with defiance as well as resignation and the arrangement is gorgeous, Nelson’s guitar picking preceding the entry of lush strings, harmonica, and pedal steel.  

Nelson won’t “go gentle” anywhere, and hopefully not for a long time. In the last few long weeks, many of us have come a bit “unravelled”, as he sings in “Our Song”, and this is an album to help put us all back together. First Rose of Spring is an album that won’t ever lose its bloom.

Willie Nelson’s, “We Are the Cowboys” – new track and video

Friday, June 19th, 2020

Willie Nelson’s “We Are The Cowboys” — New Track And Video from upcoming Studio Album First Rose Of Spring
Premieres Today to Celebrate Father’s Day This Weekend.

NEW YORK “We Are The Cowboys”–the fourth single and latest video from Willie Nelson’s forthcoming studio album First Rose Of Spring–premieres online today, Friday, June 19.    The new video for “We Are The Cowboys,” created and directed by Willie’s son Micah Nelson, comes just ahead of Father’s Day.

Watch the video here:  https://WillieNelson.lnk.to/cowboysPR  

The song, originally recorded by Billy Joe Shaver on I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal in 1981, was also recorded on Honky Tonk Heroes, by a collective of Shaver, Willie, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson in 1999 (produced by Shaver’s late son, Eddy, at Nelson’s studio in Pedernales, Texas).   

Like many of the songs on First Rose Of Spring, “We Are The Cowboys” begins with familiar iconic imagery then delivers you somewhere unexpected.

“The cowboys are riding tall in the saddle/
They shoot from the heart with the songs that they play,” Nelson sings, before rhapsodizing about “a right handsome woman on up around Boulder” and declaring,

“We are the cowboys, the true sons of freedom/We are the men who will get the job done.” 

The song then makes a surprising turn not often heard in cowboy anthems: “Cowboys are average American people/Texicans, Mexicans, Black men and Jews/They love this old world and they don’t want to lose it/They’re counting on me and they’re counting on you.”   

In spotlighting this song, Willie makes it clear what the good guys or “cowboys” should be doing, for the sake of us all: “The world will breathe easy when we stop the bleeding/The fighting will end when all hunger is gone/There are those who are blind so we’ll all have to lead them/It’s everyone’s job till we get the work done.”  

Willie Nelson and Billy Joe Shaver extended cowboy ideals to recent and current American history: There’s a job to be done, bleeding and hunger to be stopped and prejudice to be overcome. With “We Are The Cowboys,” Willie has brought a nearly 40 year-old song back to life at just the right time.

First Rose Of Spring will be available on CD, vinyl and digital formats as well as part of exclusive merch bundles on Willie’s web store on Friday, July 3. Fans may pre-order the First Rose Of Spring album and listen to “We Are The Cowboys” now at: https://willienelson.lnk.to/1stRosePR 

Nelson’s 70th solo studio album (and 14th for Legacy Recordings), First Rose Of Spring is the artist’s first new release since winning the 2020 Best Country Solo Performance Grammy Award–Willie’s 10th overall (not including his Grammy Legend and Lifetime Achievement Awards)–for “Ride Me Back Home,” the title track from his 2019 Legacy Recordings release.

The previous year, My Way, Willie’s musical homage to Frank Sinatra took home the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.  An essential addition to the Willie Nelson canon, First Rose Of Spring is an eloquent new chapter in the chronicles of one of America’s greatest musical troubadours.

Willie Nelson wins Grammy for, “Ride Me Back Home” (2020)

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

www.tasteofcountry.com

The 2020 Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance has been awarded to Willie Nelson for his “Ride Me Back Home,” from his 2019 album of the same name

Nominees in this category this year included Tyler Childers for “All Your’n,” Ashley McBryde‘s “Girl Goin’ Nowhere,” Blake Shelton for “God’s Country” and Tanya Tucker‘s “Bring My Flowers Now.”

Over his career, Nelson has been nominated for 52 Grammys. His most recent win was in 2019 for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album (for My Way). He has previously won for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album in 2016 for Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin, Best Country Collaboration With Vocals in 2007 for “Lost Highway” and again in 2002 for “Mendocino County Line.”

In 2000, he was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to music. In 1990, he won the Grammy Legend Award, and in 1986 he was honored with the President’s Merit Award.

In 1982 he was awarded with the Best Male Country Vocal Performance for “Always on My Mind” and once again in 1978 for “Georgia On My Mind.” He took home the Best Country Song for “On The Road Again” in 1980. “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” took home Best Country Vocal Performance By A Duo or Group in 1978.

His first Grammy Award win was in 1975 at the 18th Annual Grammy Awards for “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain” for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.