Archive for the ‘Albums’ Category

Buddy Cannon and Willie Nelson, 2017 Grammy Award Winners “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin”

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

buddwilll

www.tennessean.com
by:  Juli Thanki

Longtime producer Buddy Cannon hit a career milestone on Sunday night: his first Grammy Award.

“Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin,” which Cannon co-produced with Matt Rollings (a man he describes as “one of the best musicians that’s ever been in this town”), was named Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, beating out releases by Andrea Bocelli, Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, and Josh Groban.

“It was a heavy category for sure,” Cannon said on Monday. “If I pulled myself out of the equation and looked at the names of all five nominees, Willie is as strong as any of them. I thought we had a chance.”

Cannon didn’t fly to Los Angeles for the awards show. Instead, he had a jam session with his mother, 92-year-old harmonica player and songwriter Lyndel Rhodes, then came home to watch the pre-telecast ceremony on the Grammy website. “It’s Matt’s first (Grammy win) and my first. We were both just bouncing off the walls,” he said.

After 10 years of making records together, Nelson and Cannon have it down to a science. “It’s like riding a bicycle. We do our thing. It’s easy, and it makes me nervous as hell every time,” Cannon admitted. “I don’t know why. Getting ready to go in and record your hero, it just makes me nervous.

“His songs have always been an inspiration for me as a songwriter. His singing and his guitar playing have been inspiring to me as a musician. I think anything I do has a little bit of Willie’s influence in it. It’s very gratifying to know that one of your heroes just happens to be a great guy who loves to laugh and have a good time.”

While many other Grammy winners celebrated their victories well into the night, Cannon didn’t even take a coffee break: “I’m working on a record for a band my daughter sings in called the Likely Culprits, and I’m co-producing it with Ronnie Bowman. As soon as the announcement came that we’d won the Grammy, Ronnie knocked on my door, we went upstairs and went to work.”

Willie Nelson album, “God’s Trouble Child”, vinyl, shirts, hats pennants and more from Pledge Music

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017
SIGNED CD Bundle

$137

Change Currency
  • SIGNED God’s Problem Child CD -limited to bundle!
  • Vinyl LP
  • Oxford Pennant, wool felt
  • T-Shirt – two (unisex) design options, select the one of your choice!
  • Turntable mat
  • Trigger enamel pin
  • Canvas baseball hat, fully embroidered
  • Digital download

When pre-ordering below, leading up to the release, you will receive some exclusive videos using the ‘Access Pass’, along with a digital download of “God’s

http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/willienelson

Willie Nelson sings, “American the Beautiful” (“America: A Tribute to Heroes” 2001)

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

DISC 1:

1. My City of Ruins – Bruce Springsteen
2. Love’s in Need of Love Today – Stevie Wonder/Take 6
3. Walk On – U2
4. There Will Come a Day – Faith Hill
5. I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
6. Hero – Enrique Iglesias
7. Imagine – Neil Young
8. Someday We’ll All Be Free – Alicia Keys
9. Wish You Were Here – Limp Bizkit/Johnny Rzeznik
10. New York State of Mind – Billy Joel

DISC 2:
1. I Believe in Love – Dixie Chicks
2. Everyday – Dave Matthews
3. Redemption Song – Wyclef Jean
4. Hero – Mariah Carey
5. Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
6. Safe and Sound – Sheryl Crow
7. Fragile – Sting
8. Long Road – Eddie Vedder
9. Bridge over Troubled Water – Paul Simon
10. God Bless America – C?line Dion
11. America the Beautiful – Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson working on album in tribute to Merle Haggard

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

blackhats

http://countrymusicnation.com

After canceling a few shows due to illness, Willie Nelson is feeling better and is ready to get back to performing. Nelson described his illness as a bout with “the crud” during an interview with ABC 12 News out of San Antonio.

In addition to his busy tour schedule, Nelson is readying for the release of his new album, God’s Problem Child. The album is set to debut on April 28, the day before Nelson’s 84th birthday.

God’s Problem Child is Nelson’s first record to feature original material in three years. Fans have already had the chance to hear one of the album’s songs, titled “A Woman’s Love.” Nelson debuted a music video for the tune on Wednesday (February 15).

The album’s last track has also generated a great deal of attention. Called “He Won’t Ever Be Gone,” the song was written by Gary Nicholson as a tribute to late country legend Merle Haggard. Nelson and Haggard were friends for decades, and collaborated on a number of projects together.

But Nelson apparently decided that just one track wasn’t enough of a tribute to his dear friend. As he confirmed during his interview with ABC 12 News, he’s currently working on a tribute album to “The Hag.”

“We just got out of the studio yesterday [February 15] where we did an album for Merle Haggard,” Nelson said.

Nelson is no stranger to recording tribute albums. He often makes it a point to honor his friends and musical influences that passed away. One example is his album from September 2016, titled For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price. Nelson was a former member of Price’s Cherokee Cowboys and became good friends with him over the years.

Knowing how good Nelson’s tribute album was to Price, we can’t wait to see what he puts together for Haggard.

After all of this time, Nelson’s recordings still resonate with people both young and old. Nelson recalled a recent encounter with a young fan that left him with a big smile on his face:

“I was at a movie in Los Angeles one night at about midnight, and this young kid comes up to me and says, ‘Mr. Nelson I’m a big fan, and I just wanted you to know that I downloaded 12 of your songs today.’ I said, ‘Well, thank you.‘”

You’ll surely want to download all of the songs off of Nelson’s tribute album to Haggard and his new album God’s Problem Child. Until those albums are released, enjoy the music video for his song “A Woman’s Love” below.

Willie Nelson, “A Woman’s Love”

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

“A Woman’s Love” is included on Willie Nelson’s new album, “God’s Problem Child” available in April.

Track listing:

1. “Little House on the Hill” (Lyndel Rhodes)
2. “Old Timer” (Donnie Fritz/Lenny LeBlanc)
3. “True Love” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
4. “Delete and Fast Forward” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
5. “A Woman’s Love (Mike Reid/Sam Hunter)
6. “Your Memory Has a Mind Of Its Own” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
7. “Butterfly” (Sonny Throckmorton/Mark Sherrill)
8. “Still Not Dead” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
9. “God’s Problem Child” (Jamey Johnson/Tony Joe White)
10. “It Gets Easier” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
11. “Lady Luck” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
12. “I Made a Mistake” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
13. “He Won’t Ever Be Gone” (Gary Nicholson)

 

Willie Nelson, “A Woman’s Love” (from new album, “God’s Problem Child”

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

“A Woman’s Love” is included on Willie Nelson’s new album, “God’s Problem Child” available in April.

Track listing:

1. “Little House on the Hill” (Lyndel Rhodes)
2. “Old Timer” (Donnie Fritz/Lenny LeBlanc)
3. “True Love” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
4. “Delete and Fast Forward” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
5. “A Woman’s Love (Mike Reid/Sam Hunter)
6. “Your Memory Has a Mind Of Its Own” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
7. “Butterfly” (Sonny Throckmorton/Mark Sherrill)
8. “Still Not Dead” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
9. “God’s Problem Child” (Jamey Johnson/Tony Joe White)
10. “It Gets Easier” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
11. “Lady Luck” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
12. “I Made a Mistake” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
13. “He Won’t Ever Be Gone” (Gary Nicholson)

 

Willie Nelson’s Guitar Doctor

Monday, February 13th, 2017

http://keyetv.com
by:  Linsday Liepman

Willie Nelson’s guitar is almost as iconic as he is. Trigger is named after Roy Rogers’ horse and has been by Willie’s side since 1969. Mark Erlewine is the Austin man that has kept Trigger going for almost 40 years.

Off the beaten path of Burnet Road, in a back warehouse, the science of sound marries the art of music in Mark Erlewine’s guitar shop.

“Whenever a guitar comes in, the first thing I do is tune it to pitch and measure the action at the 12th fret,” said Mark.

Erlewine is one of three boys and had an ear for music early on. His mother was also a musician, playing piano and singing and recognized that her son had a talent.

“When I first started guitar, I rented a guitar in Wheaton, Maryland. And it was the worst playing guitar I had ever had. And I thought ‘Is it me? Is guitar going to be this much of a challenge? Or could this play better?’ And that…was really the first time I tried to figure out and took an interest in guitars,” said Mark.

He answered the call to Austin in 1974 from Ann Arbor, Michigan where he owned a guitar repair shop.

“This was like the Mecca. Armadillo World Headquarters,” said Mark.

He spent a few nights sleeping on the table saw of his first shop on Guadalupe and would post flyers for his business along the drag. There was no AC in the shop. Mark would sweat and work on guitars. He was young and ambitious.

“I was right down the street from the Austin City Limits TV studio so often bands would come in that needed some work,” said Mark.

One day Poodie Locke came in with a repair order for B.W. Stevenson’s guitar.

“That was an introduction to people in the business,” said Mark.

At the end of the 1970s Mark met Willie Nelson for the first time at the Austin Opry House located on Academy Drive just off South Congress. Today it houses a software company and is still the site for Arlen recording studios. Poodie, Willie’s stage manager, took Mark through a series of back hallways to a private bar.

“Willie was sitting there at the bar. Introduced me and Willie said, ‘yeah I just want you to keep this guitar going for me. As long as it’s going, I’ll be going,'” said Mark. “I thought, ‘I can do that.'”

But Willie’s request wasn’t for repair.

“Willie wants Trigger to wear along with him,” said Mark.

Don’t tough the frets. Be careful of each signature but keep it playing. Willie was starting to wear a second hole in the wood.

“Trigger looked much younger then, as did I,” said Mark.

Willie and Trigger have played more than 10,000 shows. Between gigs, Trigger will come back to Mark for a list of repair work. He’s replaced 12 to 13 sets of tuners over the years and made sure Trigger’s iconic sound is still intact. The Martin N-20 guitar is Brazilian rosewood on the back and sides with a Spruce top.

“Much of his life is there handling Trigger,” said Mark.

Mark has a love song of his own waiting to be written. His wedding photo to wife Dianne is tucked in his toolbox at the shop where they both work. She takes care of the books after leaving the corporate world in 2009.

“I do love it when people come in and they put the guitar up on the case and open it up and start talking about it. I’ll usually wander up to the front just to listen,” said Dianne Erlewine.

They’ve been married for a dozen years and the stories keep coming.

“Jimmy Vaughn comes out and winks at him and I’m like, you know him?” recalls Dianne about one of their first dates.

“Sting or Bob Dylan’s guitar. Something I listen to and admire, yeah that’s exciting,” said Mark.

He never knows who will walk through his door.

“No…not until the credit card, says John Fogerty. And I said you know I play a lot of John Fogerty songs,” said Mark.

He’s made custom guitars for Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill of ZZ Top, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, Johnny Winter, Don Felder and Joe Walsh of The Eagles, Paul McCartney and more. But for every famous face, he’s mended guitars for local musicians and possibly even repaired one marriage.

“She put it over his head and they were seeing a counselor now and they think things would get better but they were hoping we could put this thing back together for them. It’s symbolic of their relationship,” said Mark.

He was able to repair that guitar but others have to be pronounced dead. Not Trigger though. Mark spent time in December working on Trigger while Willie and the band rested for the holidays. Mark himself has had surgery for carpal tunnel on both hands. The guitar reflects the wear and tear too. Just like Willie wants it.

“I think Trigger will be there til the end. I really do,” said Mark.

You can learn more about Mark’s work at www.erlewineguitars.com.

Congratulations, Willie Nelson: 2017 Grammy for “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin — ‘Best Traditional Vocal Album’

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

Willie Nelson
Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin”
(Legacy)

photo:  Lukas Nelson

Congratulations to Willie Nelson, for winning 2017 Grammy for his album, “Summertime:  Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin”

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Nominees

**Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin, Willie Nelson
Cinema
, Andrea Bocelli
Fallen Angels, Bob Dylan
Stages Live, Josh Groban
Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway, Barbra Streisand

This day in Willie Nelson History: “Highwayman” album certified Gold (Feb. 10, 1986)

Friday, February 10th, 2017

On February 10, 1986, “The HighwayMan” album, is certified gold for Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson

1. Highwayman
2. The Last Cowboy Song
3. Jim, I Wore A Tie Today
4. Big River
5. Committed To Parkview
6. Desperados Waiting For A Train
7. Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos)
8. Welfare Line
9. Against The Wind
10. The Twentieth Century Is Almost Over

New Willie Nelson album available April 28th “God’s Problem Child”

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Track listing:

1. “Little House on the Hill” (Lyndel Rhodes)
2. “Old Timer” (Donnie Fritz/Lenny LeBlanc)
3. “True Love” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
4. “Delete and Fast Forward” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
5. “A Woman’s Love (Mike Reid/Sam Hunter)
6. “Your Memory Has a Mind Of Its Own” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
7. “Butterfly” (Sonny Throckmorton/Mark Sherrill)
8. “Still Not Dead” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
9. “God’s Problem Child” (Jamey Johnson/Tony Joe White)
10. “It Gets Easier” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
11. “Lady Luck” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
12. “I Made a Mistake” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
13. “He Won’t Ever Be Gone” (Gary Nicholson)

www.smobserved.com

An album of all-new recordings, God’s Problem Child adds 13 new songs to the artist’s repertoire, including seven recently written by Willie and Buddy Cannon, his longtime collaborator and producer. The album is Willie’s first to debut all-new songs since Band of Brothers reached #1 on the Billboard Country chart and #5 on the Billboard 200 in 2014.

Willie’s 7th Legacy collection, Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin is currently in the running for a Grammy Award in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category. The album debuted at #1 on both the Top Current Jazz chart and the Top Traditional Jazz chart following its release in February 2016. Nelson has won 11 Grammys over the course of his career.

God’s Problem Child, available on CD, 12″ vinyl LP or digitally, arrives just in time for Willie’s 84th birthday (April 29). Exclusive fan product offerings can be purchased at pledgemusic.com/willienelson

The album’s title track, penned by Jamey Johnson and Tony Joe White, includes vocals by both writers and the legendary Leon Russell (on what may be Russell’s very last recording). An old friend and musical cohort, Leon was the first person to put his signature on “Trigger,” Willie’s mythic guitar.

An album that reflects on mortality while marveling at the beauty and absurdity of it all, God’s Problem Child finds Willie Nelson at one of the creative peaks of his career, writing and singing with the seasoned wit and wisdom that can only come from the kind of life he’s living. One of Willie’s new songs, “Still Not Dead,” pokes fun at the many exaggerated reports of his demise he’s heard over the years while “Delete and Fast-Forward” is Willie’s unabashed analysis of the 2016 United States elections and how to deal with the aftermath.

God’s Problem Child opens with Willie’s performance of “Little House On The Hill,” a song written by Lyndel Rhodes, Buddy Cannon’s 92-year-old mother. Last October, a video of Lyndel hearing Willie singing her song for the first time, became an internet viral sensation.

In keeping with the album’s subtext of memory and mortality, God’s Problem Child closes with “He Won’t Ever Be Gone,” a song written by Gary Nicholson that pays tribute to Willie’s outlaw country comrade, Merle Haggard. Haggard’s last album was 2015’s Django and Jimmie, a musical collaboration with Willie Nelson.

Willie Nelson continues to make music every day. God’s Problem Child is his 9th studio album since the release of Heroes, his Legacy debut in 2012 (#4 Billboard Top Country, #18 Billboard 200). When he’s not in the studio, Willie’s on the road again performing more than 100 live shows in the past year including Farm Aid, the 4th of July Picnic, the ACL Festival, the First Outlaw Festival and many more.

WILLIE NELSON – GOD’S PROBLEM CHILD

1. Little House On The Hill (Lyndel Rhodes)
2. Old Timer (Donnie Fritz / Lenny LeBlanc)
3. True Love (Willie Nelson / Buddy Cannon)
4. Delete And Fast Forward (Willie Nelson / Buddy Cannon)
5. A Woman’s Love (Mike Reid / Sam Hunter)
6. Your Memory Has A Mind Of Its Own (Willie Nelson / Buddy Cannon)
7. Butterfly (Sonny Throckmorton / Mark Sherrill)
8. Still Not Dead (Willie Nelson / Buddy Cannon)
9. God’s Problem Child (Jamey Johnson / Tony Joe White)
10. It Gets Easier (Willie Nelson / Buddy Cannon)
11. Lady Luck (Willie Nelson / Buddy Cannon)
12. I Made A Mistake (Willie Nelson / Buddy Cannon)
13. He Won’t Ever Be Gone (Gary Nicholson)

Willie Nelson & Legacy Recordings – In February 2012, Willie Nelson entered into an historic new record deal with Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, marking a label homecoming for Nelson, who, from 1975-1993, had cut a phenomenal string of top-selling singles and albums for Columbia Records, beginning with 1975’s seminal smash Red Headed Stranger. New titles by the artist under the Legacy imprint will include newly recorded songs and performances as well as archival releases, personally curated by the artist, drawn from all phases of his career including his recordings for RCA Records and others.

Since signing with Legacy, Willie Nelson has sold more than 1 million albums for the label.

David McClister

Nelson’s album releases for Legacy Recordings have included:

For The Good Times: A Tribute To Ray Price (2016)

Summertime:Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin (2016)

Django and Jimmie (2015)

December Day: Willie’s Stash, Vol. 1 (2014)

Band of Brothers (2014)

To All The Girls… (2013)

Let’s Face The Music And Dance (2013)

Heroes (2012)

WillieNelson.com, LegacyRecordings.com

New Willie Nelson, “God’s Problem Child” (April 28, 2017)

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Track listing:

1. “Little House on the Hill” (Lyndel Rhodes)
2. “Old Timer” (Donnie Fritz/Lenny LeBlanc)
3. “True Love” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
4. “Delete and Fast Forward” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
5. “A Woman’s Love (Mike Reid/Sam Hunter)
6. “Your Memory Has a Mind Of Its Own” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
7. “Butterfly” (Sonny Throckmorton/Mark Sherrill)
8. “Still Not Dead” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
9. “God’s Problem Child” (Jamey Johnson/Tony Joe White)
10. “It Gets Easier” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
11. “Lady Luck” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
12. “I Made a Mistake” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
13. “He Won’t Ever Be Gone” (Gary Nicholson)

< http://gulfnews.com by:  Randy Lewis Willie Nelson is showing no signs of slowing down as his 84th birthday approaches in April. He will release his latest studio collection, God’s Problem Child, on April 28, one day before he blows out the candles on his next birthday cake.

It’s his first album of newly written songs since 2014’s Band of Brothers but keeps him on his recent pace of roughly two releases per year. In 2016 he issued For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price and Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin.

The title track for the forthcoming album was written by Jamey Johnson and Tony Joe White, both of whom also sing with Nelson on the song, which also features Leon Russell in one of his final recording sessions before his death in November.

Among the other songs are seven Nelson has written with veteran Nashville songwriter-producer Buddy Cannon, including Delete and Fast-Forward, about last year’s presidential campaign. The album closes with He Won’t Ever Be Gone, a Gary Nicholson song saluting Nelson’s long-time friend and fellow country music giant Merle Haggard.

God’s Problem Child will become the ninth album Nelson has released since signing a new record deal in 2012 with Sony Legacy Recordings.

New Willie Nelson album, “God’s Problem Child”

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017


www.RollingStone.com
by: Stephen L. Betts

For the first time in almost three years, Willie Nelson will release a collection of all-new material. God’s Problem Child, out April 28th, the day before the Country Music Hall of Famer turns 84 years old, includes seven songs co-penned by Nelson and his longtime collaborator and producer, Buddy Cannon. Closing the album is “He Won’t Ever Be Gone,” written by Gary Nicholson as a tribute to the country legend’s longtime friend and frequent singing partner, Merle Haggard.

The LP’s title cut, co-written by Jamey Johnson and Tony Joe White, includes vocals by both writers as well as Leon Russell, marking one of the musician’s final recordings before his death last November. In addition to recording together, Russell was the first person to affix his signature to “Trigger,” Nelson’s ubiquitous guitar.
The album’s opening cut, “Little House on the Hill,” was written by Lyndel Rhodes, Buddy Cannon’s 92-year-old mother. When video featuring Rhodes hearing Nelson sing her song for the first time hit the Internet last fall, it immediately went viral and has since racked up nearly one million views. Watch the video below.

Last month, Nelson shared the lyrics of another of the album’s tracks, the politically motivated “Delete and Fast Forward,” quoting a portion of the song’s chorus during a conversation with Rolling Stone:

“Delete and fast-forward, my friend/
The elections are over and nobody wins/
But don’t worry too much, you’ll go crazy again/
Delete and fast forward, my friend.”

He also jokes that the idea for a tune called “Still Not Dead” came from the fact that he is still not dead.

“I got up two or three times in the last couple of years and read the paper where I’d passed away,” he says. “So I just wanted to let ’em know that’s a lot of horseshit.”

The release of God’s Problem Child, which will be available on CD, 12″ vinyl LP and digitally, will be accompanied by the opportunity to packages that will include music, t-shirts and more, available via www.pledgemusic.com/willienelson.

The 11-time Grammy winner is nominated for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin. The Grammys air live February 12th on CBS.

God’s Problem Child track listing and songwriter credits:
1. “Little House on the Hill” (Lyndel Rhodes)
2. “Old Timer” (Donnie Fritz/Lenny LeBlanc)
3. “True Love” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
4. “Delete and Fast Forward” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
5. “A Woman’s Love (Mike Reid/Sam Hunter)
6. “Your Memory Has a Mind Of Its Own” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
7. “Butterfly” (Sonny Throckmorton/Mark Sherrill)
8. “Still Not Dead” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
9. “God’s Problem Child” (Jamey Johnson/Tony Joe White)
10. “It Gets Easier” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
11. “Lady Luck” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
12. “I Made a Mistake” (Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon)
13. “He Won’t Ever Be Gone” (Gary Nicholson)

Sitting in Nashville, listening to a little Willie Nelson

Sunday, January 29th, 2017

Willie Nelson’s “Stardust”

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

www.wideopencountry.com

By 1977, Willie Nelson had finally broken through into the mainstream. After a decade of trying in Nashville, the Red Headed Stranger returned back to Texas in 1970. From there, Nelson reshaped his sound.

Though he released well over a dozen records, nothing really stuck for Nelson. He received plenty of praise as a songwriter, but met nothing but resistance in his artistry. Nelson’s jazzy vocal phrasing and jangly guitar didn’t really fit the “Nashville Sound” model. (Though his label certainly tried to make it work).

But after nearly quitting music and then finding himself again in Austin, Nelson hit his stride. Beginning with 1974’s Phases and Stages, Nelson released a string of critically lauded albums. That includes three No. 1 records within two years and the legendary Red Headed Stranger concept album.

Naturally, you’d think Nelson would be happy with his spot at the forefront of the outlaw country movement. But instead of riding that horse til it died, he did something others tried to make him do for years. He recorded a pop album.

Willie Nelson chose 10 of the most well-known pop standards in the American music catalog for his new album Stardust. Which, obviously, takes its name from the title track, a 1929 big band classic made famous by Bing Crosby.

His label at the time, Columbia Records, saw some risk there. And really, you can’t blame them for questioning whether Nelson would have success. It’s kind of like McDonalds suddenly wanting to serve tofu Big Macs.

Nelson recalled their reaction in an interview with Radio.com. “This is not a good idea,” Nelson remembers his bosses saying. “It costs too much money first of all, and these old songs, nobody wants to hear ’em anymore. Again, they were wrong.”

But Nelson had a plan, and it started with selecting his favorite pop standards from the jazz world that so influenced his own style. And really, it all started with a simple arrangement of 1944 tune “Moonlight In Vermont.”

When Nelson established a house in Malibu, he struck up a friendship with neighbor Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. and the M.G.’s fame). A phenomenal composer and arranger in his own right, Jones delivered an arrangement of “Moonlight In Vermont” at Nelson’s request. Willie loved it so much, he asked Jones to produce the whole record.

It actually takes a lot of guts to do what Willie Nelson did with Stardust. Though he achieved fame as a singer, he never really achieved praise as a technically gifted one. And yet Nelson chose to cover songs like “Georgie On My Mind” and “Unchained Melody.” The former, of course, made famous by Ray Charles in 1960, and the latter made famous by Bobby Hatfield and The Righteous Brothers in 1965.

Other songs Nelson tackled were made famous by the likes of James Brown, Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke and more. And yet, despite singing songs of giants, Nelson delivered something uniquely soulful and touching.

The sparse production rarely more than a guitar, some keys and a jazz kit, Stardust managed to sound as country as could be. And though he’d reached the first great successes of his career, Nelson comes across as broken and lonesome. The staggering contrast took many by surprise. And the record’s success took nearly everybody else by surprise.

The record was not, by any stretch of the imagination, intended to be a smash hit. Jones and Nelson recorded the whole thing in 10 days during December 1977. In some ways, it just came down to a passion project with really good songs.

But as soon as Columbia released Stardust in April 1978, critics fell in love. Ariel Swartley said in Rolling Stone, “For all the sleek sophistication of the material, Stardust is as down-home as the Legion dance.” Robert Christgau called “Moonlight In Vermont” a “revelation” and said Nelson gave these songs an emotional access, “schmaltz-free.”

Fans ate it up, too. The album peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Country charts and No. 3 on the Billboard 200. He landed two consecutive No. 1 hits with “Blue Skies” and “All Of Me.” By December — only eight months after its release — Stardust hit platinum for the first of what would become five times.

A few months later, Willie Nelson won the Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for his version of “Georgia On My Mind.”

On January 9, 1990, Stardust went platinum for a fourth time in the United States. It reached a fifth in 2002 after a re-issue. The record shattered all of Nelson’s previous sales totals. It also went platinum an amazing seven times in Australia, four times in New Zealand and twice in Canada.

Columbia eventually issued two more versions of the album with additional tracks. And not long ago — in 2015 — The Recording Academy inducted the album into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Obviously, it’s a nice bit of validation for Nelson that a record his label didn’t want to make ended up his most commercially successful ever. But beyond that, Stardust proved what Nelson tried to prove for years prior while in Nashville. Nelson always wanted to be an artist, but much of the industry settled on relegating him to a songwriter.

With Stardust, Nelson proved his artistry on ten songs written decades ago and covered by a litany of greats. And with Booker T. Jones taking the reins on arranging and producing, Wille Nelson focused solely on being an artist. His delivery resonated so well that Stardust launched him to international stardom as not just a writer, but an artist.

Stardust is now considered one of the greatest records of all time. Not bad, for a “bad idea.”

Breaking News: Willie Nelson “Still not Dead”

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

One of the new songs on Willie Nelson’s upcoming album, “God’s Problem Child” (out this Spring) is entitled “Still Not Dead.”

Willie said that he wrote that song “’cause I’m still not dead.” “I got up two or three times in the last couple of years and read the paper where I’d passed away,” he says. “So I just wanted to let ’em know that’s a lot of horseshit.”