Archive for the ‘Albums’ Category

Thursday, August 28th, 2014


This day in Willie Nelson history: “Honeymoon in Vegas” soundtrack

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

On August 28, 1992, the movie, ‘Honeymoon in Vegas,” premiered, with Elvis impersonators and Nicolas Cage.

Willie Nelson sings, “Blue Hawaii,” on the sound track which features Presley remakes by Willie, Vince Gill, Travis Tritt, Dwight Yoakam, Ricky Van Shelton, Billy Joel, Trisha Yearwood and Amy Grant, among others. On March 7, 1995 , he soundtrack to the movie was certified platinum on March 7, 1995 , the soundtrack to the movie ”Honeymoon In Vegas” is certified platinum. The album features re-makes of Elvis Presley songs by Willie Nelson, Trisha Yearwood, Billy Joel, Travis Tritt, Ricky Van Shelton, Bono, Dwight Yoakam, Amy Grant and Vince Gill, among others.

Track List

1. All Shook Up – Billy Joel
2. Wear My Ring Around Your Neck – Ricky Van Shelton
3. Love Me Tender – Amy Grant
4. Burning Love – Travis Tritt
5. Heartbreak Hotel – Billy Joel
6. Are You Lonesome Tonight? – Bryan Ferry
7. Suspicious Minds – Dwight Yoakam
8. (You’re The) Devil in Disguise – Trisha Yearwood
9. Hound Dog – Jeff Beck, Jed Leiber
10. That’s All Right – Vince Gill
11. Jailhouse Rock – John Mellencamp
12. Blue Hawaii – Willie Nelson
13. Can’t Help Falling in Love – Bono

The Gospel According to Billy Joe

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014


Thanks, Clem, for sharing the cover of Texas Monthly, with Billy Joe Shaver on the cover.

Don’t forget, Billy Joe Shaver has a new album out, too!  Willie Nelson joins Billy Joe Shaver on a song on the new album, “It’s Hard to Be an Outlaw.”

“Check out my gig poster that I got to design for Billy Joe Shaver! The Honky Tonk Hero will be here in Jackson on the 22nd of June. Yall come on out and see this outlaw legend! ” — Joni Stevens Dunbar


Willie and the Wheel

Sunday, August 10th, 2014
by Joel Fowler

“You couldn’t make this story up if you wanted to,” admits Ray Benson in a recent telephone interview from his home in Austin, “but, it’s beautiful.”

Six years ago, Wexler, the influential man who coined the term “rhythm and blues” and helped discover acts like Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Bob Dylan, sent Benson a box of old-time country swing compilation albums knowing that they wouldn’t go to waste.

“Jerry called up me and says ‘I’m getting’ old, these things got dust on ‘em, and I’m giving away all my records,’” Benson said. “Jerry Wexler was a good friend and a supporter of our music. He ‘got’ what we were trying to do. Jerry was kind of like us – a guy from New York who fell in love with music. Roots, blues, country — [it] didn’t matter.”

Just like every good fairy tale, a little coincidental magic was needed for events to be set into motion. For such an odd story, the mystical flashpoint was just as unusual: public television.

“Then a couple of years ago, Wheel was backing up Willie Nelson, Ray Price and Merle Haggard on their Last of the Breed tour,” Benson said. “Well, one of our shows was filmed as a PBS special, Wexler saw it, and he called up Willie’s manager and said, ‘You gotta do this record!’”

It was an idea that Jerry Wexler had been sitting on for more than 35 years. Wexler started dreaming of pairing Willie Nelson and classic Western swing back in 1973, but after Nelson left Atlantic Records for RCA, the project never took off. The time for redemption had finally arrived.

“So, after the PBS special,” adds Benson, “Jerry tells us to get that list of songs from the box of records he sent me. Sure enough, tucked away in that box was a piece of paper on which he’s written ‘WN’ next to 39 songs, which were the ones he was considering for Willie back in the 70s. Between me, Jerry and Willie, we got the list down to 12, and those are the ones that made up the album.”

While such a project doesn’t sound like a stretch for a professional musician like Nelson, Benson likes to point out that looks can be deceiving.

“Sure, this was the music Willie grew up listening to, but even he didn’t know the particulars of it,” he said. “He’s not a musicologist; he’s a musician. He hadn’t even heard Hesitation Blues or Fan It — before we played them for him. He grew up playing music you could dance to.

“It’s also important to note that [Asleep at the Wheel] finally got good enough to do this record,” claims the native Philadelphian. “In 1973, we wouldn’t have been able to do it, since we’d only been together for three years at that point, and [Wexler] wouldn’t have asked us to do it, because the older guys were still around.

“But then, over the years, we became the old guys,” the 58-year-old adds with a laugh, now that Asleep at the Wheel will celebrate their 40th anniversary next year.

As a final product, Willie and the Wheel, with its daring mix of moody — if not depressing — lyrics and bouncingly happy rhythms, is garnering high critical praise, with terms like “Best of 2009? being thrown around from multiple sources. Yet, for Benson, this record will serve as a final testament for a close friend.

“Jerry passed away a week after the final tracks were finished,” he said. “He got to hear them all before he left us … He was just an amazing guy.”

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

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

You can hear this song on Willie Nelson’s latest album, “To All the Girls”; it’s a beautiful song.


When Two Worlds Collide:

To All the Girls (Legacy)

1.Dolly Parton – From Here To The Moon And Back
2.Miranda Lambert – She Was No Good For Me
3.Secret Sisters – It Won’t Be Very Long
4.Rosanne Cash – Please Don’t Tell Me
5.Sheryl Crow – Far Away Places
6.Wynonna Judd – Bloody Mary Morning
7.Carrie Underwood – Always On My Mind
8.Loretta Lynn – Somewhere Between
9.Alison Krauss – No Mas Amor
10.Melonie Cannon – Back To Earth
11.Mavis Staples – Grandma’s Hands
12.Norah Jones – Walkin’
13.Shelby Lynne – Til The End Of The World
14.Lily Meola – Will You Remember Mine
15.Emmylou Harris – Dry Lightning
16.Brandi Carlile – Making Believe
17.Paula Nelson – Have You Ever Seen The Rain
18.Tina Rose – After The Fire Is Gone

New Billy Joe Shaver Album, “Long in the Tooth” (featuring Willie Nelson)

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

This day in Willie Nelson history: “One for the Road” goes gold (8/2/1979)

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

On August 2, 1979, the duet album, ‘One for the Road’ sung with Leon Russell, is certified gold.

Willie Nelson sings on JJ Cale Tribute Album (Eric Clapton & Friends: The Breeze”

Friday, August 1st, 2014
by: Jasper Rees

It’s not quite true to say no one would have heard of JJ Cale without Eric Clapton. Clapton’s cover of “After Midnight”, released in 1970 as the first single on his debut solo album, put Cale on the map as a songwriter and paved for his own inimitable recording career. But Clapton didn’t actually record “Cocaine” until Slowhand in 1977. In between Lynyrd Skynyrd slipped in with their account of “Call Me the Breeze”, the song which lends its name to this Clapton-led tribute a year on from Cale’s death.

Cale was a reticent inspiration to more than Clapton. The major singer-songwriters of a certain age queuing up to pay homage here include Willie Nelson, Mark Knopfler, Tom Petty and Don White, plus the realtively youthful John Mayer (b. 1977) and, submitting backing vocals on the final track “Crying Eyes”, Cale’s widow Christine Lakeland.

A soothing ramble through the timeless byways of Cale’s back catalogue, The Breeze is a more artistically robust compilation of covers than can often happen when famous fans crowd onto one album to say hi. Cale released 15 albums of chugging rock. The songs come in two speeds (“fastish” and “slowish”) and are so well built that there’s not much any singer can do with them other than be faithful to their cool, rhythmic spirit, and mix in a bit of their own personal chemistry. Knopfler sounds like Knopfler on “Someday” and Willie Nelson is very much himself on “Songbird” and “Starbound”, while White adds a country tinge to “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Need Me)”. Petty sounds like a dead ringer for Cale on “I Got the Same Old Blues” and “The Old Man and Me”. Clapton is everywhere, subsuming himself to the project on backing vocals, now and then popping up to lead. He submits a lovely “Cajun Moon”. Completists may regret the absence of a reprise for his two JJ Cale covers from 1970s.

US singer-songwriter JJ Cale died of a heart attack at the age of 74. He became famous in 1970, when Eric Clapton covered his song ‘After Midnight’. In 1977 Clapton also popularised Cale’s ‘Cocaine’. The two worked together on an album which won a Grammy award in 2008.

JJ Cale – Call Me The Breeze
From the album : Naturally (1972)

Willie Nelson: “Band of Brothers”

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

by:   Lee Zimmerman

Look up the word prolific in the dictionary and don’t be surprised if you see a picture of Willie Nelson illustrating the definition. We’re kidding of course, but considering the fact that this true American master just turned 81 a couple of months ago, his pace of activity continues to be a something of a marvel, mostly surpassing that of artists who are often a third his age. The fact that this is Nelson’s fourth album in a little over two years attests to that prowess. Indeed, over the years, it’s been his habit to release multiple albums within months of each other, making a new Willie Nelson album a wholly expected occurrence.

While in some cases familiarity might breed contempt, Band of Brothers ups the ante by focusing primarily on Nelson’s own compositions for the first time since Spirit in 1996. That’s something to celebrate, especially considering all the songs (“Crazy,” “Funny How Time Slips Away,” “Night Life” et. al.) that have become verifiable standards over the past 50 years. Here again, Nelson adds any number of potential additions to that revered canon, addressing the subjects of love, loyalty, restlessness and wandering with the same honesty and determination that’s become so essential to his signature stance. The formidable “Bring It On,” “The Wall” and “Band of Brothers” reaffirm his sturdy assurance, a defining posture more or less summed up by the latter’s telling reprise: “We’re a band of brothers and sisters and whatever/On a mission to break all the rules…”

Nevertheless, it’s the goofy testament to fooling around and playing the field, “Wives and Girlfriends,” that might seize immediate attention. Hoping that the twain never shall meet, he goes on to either praise or chastise his previous mates, reaffirming his image as the ne’er do well more concerned with eluding respectability than embracing it in spite of its inevitability. And yet, for all the silliness and self-effacing nonsense — his cover of “Crazy Like Me” is another in a series of inevitable anthems about irresponsibility — it’s the tender ballads that makes the most impact, particularly those that have to do with romance and remorse such as “I Thought I Left You” and “Send Me a Picture.” For all his assertions about cutting loose and making madness, it’s the sentimental songs that speak to why he remains a musical treasure all these years on. Or, to quote from “The Songwriters,” a song that seems to size him up succinctly, “We’re heroes, we’re schemers we’re drunks and we’re dreamers.”

When it comes to weighing in on Willie, it can’t be stated any better.

- Lee Zimmerman

New Billy Joe Shaver Album! “Long in the Tooth” (order yours today)

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014



Follow Billy Joe Shaver on facebook.

“Long in the Tooth” is available on vinyl with gatefold jacket and download card. It also includes liner notes by Steve Earle

Pre-order at Amazon: 
or Lightning Rod Records:

Itunes has a special, too:

Pre-order Long in the Tooth @iTunesMusic and instantly receive “Hard to Be an Outlaw” single feat. Willie Nelson.


Country Outlaws

Friday, July 18th, 2014


Willie Nelson’s, “Band of Brothers”, on vinyl

Sunday, July 13th, 2014


Yay, finally made it to to my favorite independent record store, Bart’s, and picked up a copy of Willie Nelson’s new album on vinyl.

I’m loving it.

WIllie Nelson: Band of Brothers

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Willie Nelson

Band of Brothers (Sony / Legacy Recordings)

Phases & Stages

by: Tim Steagall

“Well, it seems that I’ve been here before/ So if this means that there is more – bring it on.”

So intones a familiar, reedy voice, none the worse for wear over 81 years and delivering the titular punch line with characteristic Lone Star Zen: laissez-faire delivery of steel resolve. Halfway through the first verse of the first song on the first album of predominantly self-penned material since 1996, Willie Nelson sounds downright pugilistic. On the occasion of his last set of originals, Spirit (inhale “Twisted Williemania,” Feb. 9, 1996), Abbott’s favorite son invited us aboard his bus the Honeysuckle Rose after having just been dropped by his label of 18 years, Columbia Records. For the better part of the next two decades, he then concentrated on his Louis Armstrong-like interpretive and duet skills – anyone, anytime, any place – occasionally hitting when paired with a Toby Keith (“Beer for My Horses”).

Now, Nelson’s Band of Brothers debuts at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Country Albums rankings and No. 5 overall, breaking several of his own career highs. All he needed to revive his commercial fortunes was to obey his calling: songwriting. Remember, having penned deathless standards including “Hello, Walls,” “Crazy,” “Night Life,” and “Funny How Time Slips Away,” the Red-Headed Stranger didn’t make his name on his braids. While Band of Brothers‘ new ones are co-writes with the producer Buddy Cannon, the lyrics are clearly Nelson’s, which taken as a whole constitute as deeply personal a document as any he’s authored. One key track, “Guitar in the Corner,” acknowledges writer’s block before turning it into a metaphor for a faltering relationship: “There’s a guitar in the corner/ That used to have a song/ I would hold it while it played me/ And I would sing along.” Two plays later, Nelson’s hitting “The Wall,” singing of spending “Half my life ridin’ on a rocket/ One world to the next then on and on,” afterward resolving to make improvements: “Taking things to make it make me better/ Remembering things I never knew I’d knew.”

Accompanying Western grooves that harness all the compositions into a cohesive ride – each accessorized with the bandleader’s Django Reinhardt-loving acoustic guitar solos – most of the lyrics speak of broken-down romance, with lines as telling as those in “Send Me a Picture” (“Send me a picture when we were together/ When we held the world in the palm of our hands/ When life had a future forever and ever”). Elsewhere, his interpretive muscles flex hard, as with Billy Joe Shaver’s modern country protest, “Hard to Be an Outlaw”: “Singin’ ’bout the back roads that they never have been down/ They go and call it country but that ain’t the way it sounds”. Even then, Band of Brothers belongs solely to Willie Nelson. This is the sound of rust being ground out, cylinders squeaking back to life, engines and carburetors opening wide on the road again.


Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard and more on Mary Sarah’s “Bridges”

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

by: Andrew Leahey

Yesterday, Mary Sarah turned 19 years old. Today, she’s releasing Bridges, a duet-filled album featuring cameos by some of the biggest living legends of country music.

It’s one thing to cover songs from the country songbook. It’s another thing to sing those tunes with the people who originally made them famous. As a result, Bridges serves as a tribute to the classic music Mary Sarah sang in churches and regional Opry houses during her younger days, as well as a testament to the longevity of old-school crooners like Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Ronnie Milsap and Merle Haggard, all of whom lend their voices to the project.

Sarah turns on the waterworks with “Go Rest High on That Mountain,” performed alongside Vince Gill, and dips her toe into more contemporary waters with the Big & Rich duet “My Great Escape.” The most impressive duet, though, may be “Heartaches by the Numbers,” recorded with Ray Price months before the singer’s death last year. The song feels like a passing of the torch between different generations, and Sarah’s performance — confident, tuneful and rarely overshadowed by her vocal partner — bodes well for a songbird who’s just now leaving the nest.

Mary Sarah, Bridges Track List:

1. “Jolene” (featuring Dolly Parton)?
2. “Crazy” (featuring Willy Nelson)
?3. “Fightin’ Side of Me” (featuring Merle Haggard)?
4. “Heartaches By the Number” (featuring Ray Price)
5. “Go Rest High on That Mountain” (featuring Vince Gill)
?6. “Dream On” (featuring the Oak Ridge Boys)?
7. “Texas, When I Die” (featuring Tanya Tucker)?
8. “Rose Garden” (featuring Lynn Anderson)
?9. “What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life” (featuring Ronnie Milsap)?
10. “Where the Boys Are” (featuring Neil Sedaka)
11. “My Great Escape” (featuring John Rich and Big Kenny)
?12. “All I Wanna Do Is Sing My Song” (featuring Freddy Powers)?
13. “I’m Sorry”

Willie Nelson Going Strong: Band of Brothers (review)

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Willie Nelson’s “Band of Brothers”
by: Dean Gordon-Smith

At 81 years old and 50-plus albums, Willie Nelson is a clear eyed reporter of world weary choices, moody regret and aw shucks bad assery.

On Band of Brothers, his first mainly original album in over a decade, Nelson reasserts his songwriting mastery in an album replete with his end-of-the-night chord patterns and western swing/country pop hybrid songs.

Nelson’s vigorous work ethic has kept his tremulous voice in solid form (as a vocal stylist, his shaky voice is singular.) Producer Buddy Cannon’s highlighting of Nelson’s voice and rickety, elegant guitar work dovetail sweetly into the relaxed songs of Band of Brothers – an unhurried collection of classic Nelson themes of camaraderie (Guitar in the Corner), the road (Band of Brothers) and wayward love (Wives and Girlfriends).

This album shines light on Nelson’s songs which, along with his voice, are ageless because they’ve always sounded old.

Both are strong and confident, shaded by darkness and humour: He’s no serious prophet but he’s a wry observer of basic situations who turns simple sentiments into roadside wisdom.

Nelson has always had an ear for the “whatever happens,” the type of view as heard on Used to Hear:

“I wish I wasn’t used to her back then, I could have picked a good girl who did not crave other men/ I wish I wasn’t used to her back then.”

Band of Brothers is focused on Nelson’s ensemble, playing western swing songs and easy excursions into bluesy sounds (The Git Go, Hard to Be an Outlaw).

His workhorse musical output has kept his vocal/guitar and songwriting skills vital and pleasantly weathered. This album hones in on all three of his talents with emphasis on the latter. He gives an insight to his longevity and drive on The Songwriters: “We write bridges, we cross ‘em and burn ‘em/Teach lessons but don’t bother to learn ‘em.”