Archive for the ‘Albums’ Category

Sunday, June 17th, 2018

Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, “Django and Jimmie” (Rolling Stone Interview June 2015)

Friday, June 15th, 2018

by:  Patrick Doyle

“Hello, I know you!” Merle Haggard says as he emerges from the bedroom of his tour bus. He’s talking to Willie Nelson, who’s sitting in the bus’s cramped front quarters. Standing nearby, Nelson’s wife, Annie, asks the pair if they’ll sign a couple of acoustic guitars for a charity run by Matthew McConaughey, a friend of the family. “Absolutely not,” Haggard says with a smile. Later, when Annie takes a photo of the two signing the guitars, Nelson grins and gives the camera the finger.

It’s a perfect Saturday night in South Texas, where Haggard, 78, and Nelson, 82, are playing the last of three sold-out shows together at New Braunfels’ Whitewater Amphitheater. Haggard is about to play a set, during which Nelson will join him on “Okie From Muskogee,” “Pancho and Lefty” and a handful of other songs. Backstage, Nelson family members catch up; his rail-thin 90-year-old roadie Ben Dorcy (who was once John Wayne’s assistant) ambles around, smoking a pipe. Directly behind the stage, locals ride down the Guadalupe River in inner tubes, stopping on the bank to listen to the show. “We’ll get somebody out there to sell them tickets,” Nelson jokes.

Sitting side by side on the bus, Nelson and Haggard look like they could be a grizzled Mount Rushmore of country music. “It’s a mutual-admiration society with us,” says Nelson. “Merle’s one of the best. There’s not anyone out there that can beat him. Maybe Kris Kristofferson. But then you start running out of names.”

Haggard and Nelson are about to release a new LP, Django and Jimmie. (The title is a tribute to Nelson’s and Haggard’s respective heroes, Django Reinhardt and Jimmie Rodgers.)

One of the best songs is “Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash,” an ode to their late friend and a meditation on mortality. “There’s a thousand good stories about John,” says Nelson. Haggard tells one, about the time Cash thought it would be hilarious to dynamite a broken-down car he encountered on the side of the road. “He hooks it all up, hits the plunger and blows it up. And he said, ‘Now, when that guy goes to tell his old lady his car blew up, he won’t be lying!’?” Nelson cackles, adding, “John used to say, ‘I always get my best thinking done when June is talking.’?”

“I didn’t know anything about marijuana,” Haggard says. “It’s fantastic.”

Nelson and Haggard met at a poker game at Nelson’s Nashville house in 1964, when both were struggling songwriters. (Neither would have major success until they left Nashville behind; Nelson for Austin, Haggard for Bakersfield, California.) They didn’t become close until the late Seventies, when they were playing casinos in Reno. “We’d play a couple of long shows a day, then spend all night long jamming,” says Haggard.

In 1982, they recorded Pancho & Lefty together at Nelson’s ranch near Austin, where they’d stay awake for days — “We were living pretty hard in that time period,” Nelson has said — playing golf and then recording all night (Haggard barely remembers singing his famous verse on “Pancho and Lefty”). At the time, they were fasting on a master-cleanse regimen of cayenne pepper and lemon juice. “I think Willie went 10 days,” says Haggard. “I went seven.”

“I still ain’t got over it,” says Nelson. “Still hungry.” Adds Haggard, “You’re still high!”

These days, they share a love of conspiracy theories (both are devoted fans of paranormal-obsessed radio host Art Bell) and making music with their children (Haggard’s son Ben plays guitar in his band; Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah frequently join their father onstage). “It’s as good as it gets, to have your kids up there playing,” says Nelson. “And they’re good!”

On the new album, the two cover Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright).” The track was recorded before Dylan criticized Haggard and other artists in a widely publicized MusicCares speech in February: “Merle Haggard didn’t think much of my songs, but Buck Owens did,” Dylan said. “Buck Owens and Merle Haggard? If you have to have somebody’s blessing — you figure it out.” Dylan later apologized.

Haggard (who toured with Dylan in 2005) thinks Dylan was talking about the Merle Haggard of the Sixties — the guy who took shots at hippies, weed and premarital sex in 1969’s “Okie From Muskogee.”

“I didn’t misunderstand Bob,” says Haggard. “I know what he meant. He figured I was lumping him in with hippies [in the Sixties]. The lack of respect for the American military hurt my feelings at the time. But I never lumped Bob Dylan in with the hippies. What made him great was the fact that every body liked him. And I’ll tell you one thing, the goddamn hippies have got no exclusive on Bob Dylan!” He pauses. “Bob likes to box — I’d like to get in the ring with his ass, and give him somebody to hit.”

In fact, these days Merle Haggard is far more liberal than the man in his classic songs. For one thing, he loves pot. “I didn’t know anything about marijuana back then,” he says. “It’s one of the most fantastic things in the world.” Did he and Nelson smoke in the studio? “Are you kidding me?” Haggard says with a laugh.

Soon, the conversation devolves to jokes. “You know what you call a guitar player without a girlfriend?” Nelson asks. “Homeless.”

Next, they talk current events, Nelson explaining the “Blurred Lines” lawsuit to Haggard. (“They stole more than they were supposed to,” he says. Haggard nods.) Asked if either has any thoughts about communicating with fans through social media, they shake their heads. “Just so long as somebody else can do it,” says Nelson. “That’s why I didn’t learn to play steel guitar.”

“What was that little girl that played steel in Asleep at the Wheel?” says Haggard. “Cindy Cashdollar. Everybody was trying to look up her dress.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t do that,” deadpans Nelson. “I think I had the wrong angle.”

By now, Haggard is supposed to be onstage; his son has been extending his three-song warm-up set for several minutes, telling the crowd his father will be out soon. These co-headline dates sold so well that Nelson says there will be more: “In fact, I was talking to some folks today — I was gonna see what they thought of making us do a tour of it when it comes out.”

He turns to Haggard. “We ought to do whatever we can get — as many days as we need to,” Nelson says with a smile. “Because I know it’s a good record. I think it might sell a couple.”

Willie Nelson in Jamaica (June 2015), Countryman

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018


Nashville, TN – Music icon Willie Nelson was in Ocho Rios, Jamaica last week shooting two new videos for his upcoming Lost Highway release Countryman, out July 12, 2005. The legendary Toots Hibbert (of Toots & The Maytals) is featured in a duet with Nelson in the video for the Johnny Cash/June Carter Cash song “I’m A Worried Man”, as well as on the CD release.

Nelson also shot a video for his rendition of Jimmy Cliff’s classic song “The Harder They Come”. On the set during the shoot was Perry Henzell, who wrote and directed the groundbreaking film The Harder They Come in 1972. Also on the set was director Dickie Jobson who directed the legendary film Countryman (1978?), from which the title of Nelson’s new album was pulled as an acknowledgement to Jamaican lore.

The videos for “I’m A Worried Man” and “The Harder They Come” were both directed by Jamaican native Ras Kassa, who recently directed Damian Marley’s hit “Trenchtown Rock”, among others.

1. Do you Mind Too Much If I don’t Understand
2. How Long is Forever?
3. I’m a Worried Man” (featuring Toots Hibbert)
4. The Harder They Come
5. Something to Think About
6. Sitting in Limbo
7. Darkness on the Face of the Earth
8. One in a Row
9. I’ve Just Destroyed the World I’m Living In
10. You Left Me a Long, Long Time Ago
11. I Guess I’ve Come to Live Here
12. Undo the Right

The Red Headed Stranger Story

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018
by:  Kelsey Butterworth

Like the imposing chimes of a grandfather clock, the six opening chords of Willie Nelson’s landmark Red Headed Stranger signaled a new hour for music. A dark, rambling, bare-bones tale about a man’s jealous rage and his path to self-forgiveness, it cemented Nelson’s legacy as one of country’s greatest storytellers and proved that concept records were not exclusively rock’s domain. 40 years later, we look back at the impact of the complex album and its unlikely success.

Home On The Ranch

First, some backstory. Nelson grew up on the plains of Depression-era Texas, and after his parents split, he and sister Bobbie were raised by their grandparents. At the age of six he was given a guitar, and he never looked back. Many of his music’s enduring influences can be traced back to his surprisingly diverse hometown of Abbot.

His Mexican neighbors gifted him a lasting appreciation for music from south of the border. Having Czechoslovakian neighbors meant constant exposure to waltzing and polka dancing, whose hobbling downbeats are still crucial to modern country. And going to church every Sunday meant plenty of gospel got stuck in the young man’s head.

Given The Boot

In 1973, Willie Nelson was beginning to make a name for himself in Nashville. He had just signed a $25,000 contract with Atlantic’s country branch in Music City ($133,000 in today’s money) and had released two successful records with them, Shotgun Willie and Phases and Stages (another concept record, about divorce).

But Atlantic decided to shutter its country experiment, which left Nelson without a label. His savvy manager Neil Reshen phoned up Columbia’s president Bruce Lundvall and negotiated a contract, but one that included a clause giving Nelson complete artistic control. This would prove to be a music biz anomaly, and Red Headed Stranger’s saving grace.

Leaving Nashville turned out to be blessing in disguise. There, the expectation was to be clean cut in countenance and studio. The album sounds the way it does in part thanks to Nelson’s relocation to Austin. Its burgeoning hippie movement, which is still going strong today, made Willie feel like a misfit who found a home with other misfits. No longer having to worry about image, Nelson was free to focus solely on his sound.

For The Record

Nelson used to DJ a Fort Worth kids’ radio show from 1-1:30pm every day. It broadcasted tunes to exhausted parents who desperately wanted their children to nap for thirty minutes, and Nelson obliged them with songs like “Tale of the Red Headed Stranger” and Tex Ritter’s “Blood on the Saddle”, songs which might not be considered appropriate children’s music these days.

Years later, having been handed the reigns by CBS, Nelson’s then-wife (his third) Connie Koepke inspired him to take the original Red Headed Stranger and flesh it out, turning it into an aural western novel. Engineer Phil York lured Nelson to Autumn Sound Studio in Garland, Texas, and they set to work. Any instrumentation favored by the glossy hot country of the day was stripped away, leaving Nelson’s plucky acoustic guitar Trigger, upright bass, drums, piano (played by sister and frequent collaborator Bobbie), and occasional accordion, mandolin, and harmonica. The sessions didn’t take long. Harp player Mickey Raphael said part of the reason the concept album is so sparse is because it was recorded live – there were very few do-overs. Bassist Bobby Earl Smith even claims that their version of “Blue Eyes” was a one-take recorded with everyone sitting in a circle. Like an intimate house show, the songs are spare but expansive and perfectly mic’d.

Folk Tale

The songs – vignettes, really – are mostly only at or under two minutes. They ingeniously alternate between the Stranger’s first-person travels and an omnipresent third-person narration, giving his voyage a fated feel, as if the Stranger is being watched from above with great care.

After the first “Time of the Preacher”, a refrain repeated and modified throughout side one, the story begins. The Stranger loves his wife dearly but thinks she’s cheating on him; his suspicions are confirmed when, one day, he comes home to an empty house. He’s beyond distraught, and he cries “like a panther in the middle of the night.” He tries to forgive and forget, but the vacant hallways haunt him and his loneliness turns into a singular, coldblooded thirst for revenge. In “Blue Rock Montana”, he finds his ex and her new beau in a bar and shoots them so quickly, “they died with their smiles on their faces”.

It is precisely then that The Stranger becomes the Red Headed Stranger. He aimlessly wanders from town to town in a fog of self-loathing, riding a black stallion and toting behind him the pony formerly used by his wife. When a drunk woman pets the horse, he thinks she’s trying to steal it and shoots her straightaway. He once again escapes Johnny Law, the logic being: “You can’t hang a man for killing a woman / Who’s trying to steal your horse”. (Show of hands: who else is glad the Wild West is no longer a thing?)

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then so is the title of a lyric-less song, especially in the case of the handsome waltz “Just As I Am”. It ends side one but initiates the Stranger’s true quest for starting anew. Side two begins with our antihero meeting his new love in Denver; like the American Dream, he must move west to find his true self. The second half of the record is noticeably jollier, with songs like “Down Yonder” giving Benny Hill a run for his money.

No Stranger To Success

Nothing about this record yodels ‘commercial smash.’ It flew in the face of current country practices, and many CBS execs fought not to put it out, claiming it sounded like a half-baked demo that no one would buy. “They thought I’d gone insane because there wasn’t that much there,” says Nelson of the now infamous board meetings. “I think Waylon Jennings shamed them into putting it out.” Since his contract stipulated complete creative control, no changes were made to the tapes, and the collection ended up more than surpassing expectations.

Ray Benson, who was working as a session guitarist in Nashville at the time, recalls colleagues getting angry and jealous at the album’s success, believing it was practically blasphemous and insubordinate to record country in so sparing a manner. But it did the trick. The Columbia Records release reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and remained in the charts for 43 weeks. Its first single, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”, won a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. Less than a year later it was certified gold; 10 years from then, it was certified double platinum. It has also become a part of the National Recording Registry.


Rolling Stone has called it one of the top 500 greatest albums of all time, but CMT one-upped them and called it the best album of all time. CMJ has appropriately deemed it “the Sgt. Peppers of country music.” The album’s uncommonly lucrative no-frills attitude isn’t just for show – it’s just how Willie is. He remains humble despite his accomplishments. “I first saw him play in Wichita Falls sometime in the 1970s,” recalls outlaw disciple James McMurtry. “I was just fifteen or sixteen. And when he came out on stage, there was no big announcement. He just kind of snuck out from behind one of the speaker columns and started playing. I learned from that. That’s the way I come out on stage today.”

At the time of the record’s release, Nelson was on his third wife and fifth child; he had the same blue eyes and long red hair of his protagonist. Red Headed Stranger gave Nelson both an enduring nickname, and the crown jewel of his extraordinary discography. Its leanness has helped it float through the years, becoming an otherworldly, timeless classic.

Red Headed Stranger Track Listing: 

1 .”Time of the Preacher” (Willie Nelson)

2. “I Couldn’t Believe It Was True” (Eddy Arnold, Wally Fowler)

3. “Time of the Preacher Theme” (Willie Nelson)

4. “Medley: Blue Rock Montana/Red Headed Stranger” (Nelson/Carl Stutz, Edith Lindeman)

5. “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” (Fred Rose)

6. “Red Headed Stranger” (Carl Stutz, Edith Lindeman)

7. “Time of the Preacher Theme” (Willie Nelson)

8. “Just As I Am” (Charlotte Elliott, William B. Bradbury)


“Denver” Willie Nelson

2. “O’er the Waves” (Juventino Rosas, arranged by Willie Nelson)

3. “Down Yonder,” played by Bobbie Nelson (L. Wolfe Gilbert)

4. “Can I Sleep in Your Arms” Hank Cochran

5. “Remember Me” Scotty Wiseman

6. “Hands on the Wheel” Bill Callery

7. “Bandera”

Willie Nelson, “It’s Something You Get Through”

Monday, June 4th, 2018

This song is available on Willie Nelson’s new album, “God’s Problem Child”

Willie Nelson, Last Man Standing

Last Man Standing Tracklist

    1. Last Man Standing
    2. Don’t Tell Noah
    3. Bad Breath
    4. Me & You
    5. Something You Get Through
    6. Ready To Roar
    7. Heaven Is Closed
    8. I Ain’t Got Nothin
    9. She Made My Day
    10. I’ll Try To Do Better Next Time
    11. Very Far To Crawl

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Django and Jimmie”, with Merle Haggard, released (June 2, 2016)

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018


On June 2, 2015, “Django and Jimmie” by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, was released.



Willie Nelson’s Style

Sunday, May 20th, 2018
by:  Adam Levy

Legend has it that singer/songwriter Willie Nelson loves his tour bus so much that he prefers to sleep aboard it—parked outside his home—even when he’s not touring. True or not, the story is believable. After many thousands of nights on the road, a bunk is bound to feel more comforting than any bed. Nelson has been touring relentlessly as long as anyone can remember. Unlike most artists, who’ll hit the road primarily to promote a new release, Nelson just keeps on keeping on, whether or not he has a new album to plug.

At any given moment, however, odds are good that Nelson does have a new record out. Since beginning his recording career in the early 1960s, he has released more than 70 studio albums, two dozen collaborative albums, several live recordings, and countless compilations. His latest studio effort, Last Man Standing, was released on April 27, 2018—two days before his 85th birthday.

Many of Nelson’s original songs are now classics of the country canon—including “Crazy,” “Bloody Mary Morning,” “On the Road Again,” “Funny How Time Slips Away,” “Night Life,” and “Three Days.” Despite his popularity as an artist, he was a behind-the-scenes songwriter first. Consequently, the best-known versions of many Nelson songs are by other recording artists. “Crazy” is most often associated with vocalist Patsy Cline. “Night Life” was a hit for Ray Price, and many blues fans are familiar with B.B. King’s version. “Three Days” was a 1962 hit for Faron Young and did well for k.d. lang in 1990.

Nelson is almost never seen or heard without his well-worn nylon-string guitar, Trigger (named after film cowboy Roy Rogers’ horse), in hand. He acquired this Martin N-20 in 1969. He’d previously been playing a Baldwin nylon-string model, equipped with that company’s proprietary Prismatone pickup, played through a solid-state Baldwin C1 amplifier. That guitar got busted up by a drunken patron’s misstep while Nelson was gigging on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas. When Nelson sent the Baldwin guitar back home to Nashville to be revived, the repairman told him it was beyond hope, and mentioned that he had a new Martin for sale. Since Nelson had liked the Baldwin’s amplified tone, he asked the repairman to pull the pickup from his totaled guitar and install it in the Martin, and Trigger was born. Nelson has been playing Trigger ever since, and the guitar and amp setup is as much a part of his musical persona as his voice is.

AG307_stardustA Jazz Inspiration

Though Nelson is most easily described as a country musician, elements of jazz have always permeated his style. This may be most apparent on his 1978 album Stardust, on which he croons his way through well-loved jazz standards, such as “Georgia on My Mind” and the album’s title track. But even on other albums, when he’s playing one of his own three- or four-chord songs, Nelson always takes melodic and harmonic chances. Country may be his milieu but jazz is his M.O.

It’s no secret that Nelson’s primary inspiration—on the guitar, at least—is the late Gypsy-jazz luminary Django Reinhardt. Echoes of Reinhardt’s sinuous melody lines can frequently be heard in Nelson’s guitar solos, as you’ll see later in this lesson. The first two examples here highlight Nelson’s notable rhythm-guitar style, which exhibits some Gypsy-jazz sophistication as well.

AG307_irstapesExample 1 is based on Nelson’s recording of “I’m Falling in Love Again” from his 1992 album The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? (Long story short: Nelson owed back taxes. To satisfy his debt, he negotiated a deal to record and release this music, and give the proceeds to the taxman.) The lush passing chords in measures 1 and 2 aren’t typical country fare but are Nelsonic indeed. Db9/Ab serves as a chromatic approach to C9/G. Gb6 functions similarly, approaching the F chord—though without

the parallel voicing motion. Interestingly, the remainder of this passage is purely triadic. Nelson has never seemed to mind mixing jazz flavors with campfire sensibilities.

If you want to dig deep into Nelson’s guitar style, The IRS Tapes is a great place to start because it was recorded without any additional production or orchestration. It’s just his voice and guitar throughout, presumably tracked live in the studio.

Coloring Outside the Lines

VH1 Storytellers: Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson is another great opportunity to hear Nelson’s guitar in the foreground. Recorded at a live concert appearance in 1997 (and released a year later), the album features just these two, singing some of their best-loved songs. They both play guitar, and take alternate turns on lead vocal. Example 2 is composite—inspired by Nelson’s freewheeling fills and Cash’s rock-steady rhythm on their version of “Funny How Time Slips Away” from VH1 Storytellers.

The first three measures are straightforward—à la Cash—except for the Ab on beat 4 of measure 1. That’s pure Nelson. (Going to a G chord? Why not get there by half step?) Measure 4 incorporates a rootless A9 arpeggio, starting on the chord’s third (C#). Played smoothly—as Nelson would—the maneuver sounds much more complex than it is.

AG307_country_willieExample 3a is in the style of Nelson’s intro to “Are You Sure,” from his mid-’60s album Country Willie—His Own Songs. Trigger wasn’t in his hands just yet but he’d already been developing a singular voice on the guitar. This example illustrates Nelson’s uncanny ability to keep the fundamentals covered while coloring outside the lines. You can see how the new chords are outlined fairly clearly at the beginning of each measure, yet there’s some sly chromaticism to be found in between.

In Example 3b—also styled after “Are You Sure”—the fills get bluer and richer, harmonically speaking. Check out the two-note shapes in measure 2 and three-note shapes in measure 5. As before, these aren’t difficult grabs, but they can sound incredibly cool when you play them with confidence. The rest of the fills here are common blues vocabulary, paced to complement Nelson’s vocal delivery. Make sure to listen to the original recording.

“Darkness on the Face of the Earth” is another song from Country Willie that showcases Nelson’s guitar skills. Example 4 is in the style of the song’s introduction. Guitarists don’t always think of the key of F major as one that can feature hammer-ons from open strings. This example illustrates that there are plenty of melodic possibilities.

AG307_TeatrpChromatic Antics

Nelson had previously recorded “Darkness on the Face of the Earth” on his 1962 debut album, And Then I Wrote, and he revisited it once again on his 1998 album Teatro. His guitar work on this later recording is completely different, though no less inventive. The next two examples are inspired by Nelson’s thrilling mid-song solo. Example 5a begins simply and spaciously, which serves to heighten the drama that follows. In measure 3, an eighth-note line climbs up the E major scale from its sixth degree (C#).

This line changes direction at the end of the measure, morphing into a melodic pattern that continues downward through the first two beats of measure 4. Beats 3 and 4 here are a tumbling blur with chromatic passing tones.
A few fingerings may work for this passage, but try this one first: Play the triplet with fingers 3-2-1, then quickly shift down one fret so that your second finger is on F
#; finger the 16ths 2-3-2-1, then quickly shift down one more fret so that your first finger is on E for the downbeat of the following measure.

See examples, read rest of article

Album Review: Last Man Standing, Willie Nelson

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

Willie Nelson, Last Man Standing

Last Man Standing Tracklist

    1. Last Man Standing
    2. Don’t Tell Noah
    3. Bad Breath
    4. Me & You
    5. Something You Get Through
    6. Ready To Roar
    7. Heaven Is Closed
    8. I Ain’t Got Nothin
    9. She Made My Day
    10. I’ll Try To Do Better Next Time
    11. Very Far To Crawl

Album Review: Last Man Standing, Willie Nelson

Another Twelve Inches of Willie.

Around twelve short months ago, I reviewed the last Willie Nelson album, God’s Problem Child, and took my hat off to the work and strike rate of a man about to turn eighty-four. If anything, I underestimated the great man’s industriousness, for here he is back again, on the eve of his eighty-fifth birthday, with another fine lump of wax. It’s very much of a piece with the last one, Nelson mocking his age and laughing in the face of the big finish. If this is the result of the ingestion of copious amounts of the lethal weed, then perhaps we should start prescribing it to the lethargic en masse.

The music ranges from shuffles that’ll warm the heart of any fans of the late JJ Cale, like the title-track and ‘Don’t Tell Noah’; the western swing of his beloved Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys – Nelson recorded a whole album of this stuff with Asleep At The Wheel called, obviously enough, Willie And The Wheel – on the defiant ‘Ready To Roar’; and the gorgeous, soul-tinged country ballad of ‘Something You Get Through’, carried along by the harmonica of Mickey Raphael, Nashville’s own Charlie Parker.

The songwriting – all, like the last one, by Willie and producer Buddy Cannon – is at a level that any of the current crop of big hats would kill to reach; from a good gag about halitosis (‘Bad Breath’) to his sly, grinning assertion that he really tried when reminded that “The good book says love everybody”. When he finally hangs up his battered guitar Trigger, and heads off to join his pals in that honky tonk in the sky, we’re going to miss Willie Nelson.

Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie, “December Day”

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018


Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie
December Day
(Willie’s Stash, Vol. 1)

1. Alexander’s Ragtime Band (Irving Berlin)
2. Permanently Lonely (Willie Nelson)
3. What’ll I Do (Irving Berlin)
4. Summer of Roses / December Day (Willie Nelson)
5. Nuages (Django Reinhardt)
6. Mona Lisa (Ray Evans & Jay Livingston)
7. I Don’t Know Where I Am Today (Willie Nelson)
8. Amnesia (Willie Nelson)
9. Who’ll Buy My Memories (Willie Nelson)
10. The Anniversary Song (Al Jolson & Saul Chaplin)
11. Laws of Nature (Willie Nelson)
12. Walkin’ (Willie Nelson)
13. Always (Irving Berlin)
14. I Let My Mind Wander (Willie Nelson)
15. Is the Better Part Over (Willie Nelson)
16. My Own Peculiar Way (Willie Nelson)
17. Sad Songs and Waltzes (Willie Nelson)

Willie Nelson, “Heaven is Closed”

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Last month, outlaw country legend Willie Nelson celebrated his 85th birthday and released a new studio album Last Man Standing. Nelson has shared a video for the album track “Heaven Is Closed.”

Last Man Standing features 11 new originals Nelson wrote with his longtime collaborator Buddy Cannon. Just last year Nelson released the album God’s Problem Child featuring 13 new songs and the Willie Nelson & The Boys Willie’s Stash, Vol. 2 featuring covers of country classics performed by Willie and his sons Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson.

Willie Nelson, Last Man Standing

Last Man Standing Tracklist

    1. Last Man Standing
    2. Don’t Tell Noah
    3. Bad Breath
    4. Me & You
    5. Something You Get Through
    6. Ready To Roar
    7. Heaven Is Closed
    8. I Ain’t Got Nothin
    9. She Made My Day
    10. I’ll Try To Do Better Next Time
    11. Very Far To Crawl

Willie Nelson’s “Last Man Standing” ‘could be his best since Teatro’

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

The Sunday Times says ‘Last Man Standing’ “could be his best since the 1998 masterpiece ‘Teatro’”!28

Willie Nelson releases new strain, “Last Man Standing”

Saturday, May 12th, 2018


by:  Sam D’Arcangelo

Country music legend Willie Nelson released Last Man Standing on April 27th. That last sentence may seem unremarkable—he has released 66 previous albums, after all—yet it gets a little more exciting when you realize Last Man Standing isn’t just the name of Willie’s latest record. It’s also the name of his latest marijuana strain.

Nelson, who celebrated his 85th birthday on April 29th, has been in the music business for 62 years. While he’s famously been an advocate of the marijuana plant since the 1960s, his time in the marijuana business—at least officially—began much more recently in 2015. That’s when Nelson co-founded Willie’s Reserve, a brand that sells paraphernalia, edibles, and old-fashioned buds on the United States’ growing legal marijuana market.

Considering Nelson’s music and marijuana ventures, it’s no surprise that some co-branding is in order. If anything, the only surprise is that it’s taken this long to happen. Last Man Standing is the fourth album that the prolific singer, songwriter, and musician has released since 2015, but it’s the first to lend its name to a Willie’s Reserve product.

“It comes from this huge plant with beautiful buds,” Shane Osburn, who bred and cultivated the strain at Sol Grow Mendocino with his wife Amelia. “It’s so expressive of its characteristics. When you walk past the plant it smells like an orange tree.”

“Willie is a soldier for the cannabis community,” adds Amelia. “We have total respect for how he’s told the world about what we do, through his music and through who he is… We’ve come pretty damn far from the point where they’d put you in prison for life for a seed to where we are now. It’s a lot of progress.”

Willie Nelson, “Last Man Standing” — “The strongest yet” (review)

Saturday, May 12th, 2018

Willie Nelson, Last Man Standing
by: Tim Stegall

“I don’t want to be the last man standing,” intones the most recognizable voice in country music over the driving rumba of his 67th studio LP’s title track. “But, wait a minute,” he second-guesses the punch line. “Maybe I do.” Willie Nelson’s 12th collaboration with co-producer and co-songwriter Buddy Cannon proves every bit as fruitful as the last 11, here yielding 11 killer new originals in a creative renaissance that’s seen Abbott’s first son release three of his strongest sets, including 2014’s Band of Brothers and 2017’s God’s Problem Child, all country chart-toppers.

The playing bristles with energy, led by crackling drums, Mickey Raphael’s wailing harmonica, and the seasoned bark of the singer’s stalwart guitar Trigger taking pride of place in Cannon’s sonically rich production. Front and center is that familiar, reedy voice, aged to perfection and delivering some of the best lines he’s written. Country-boogie groover “Don’t Tell Noah” advises, “Don’t quit trying to change the government and make them see how wrong they went.” Meanwhile, drinker’s waltz “Bad Breath” laments, “Halitosis is a word I never could spell, but bad breath is better than no breath at all.”

Willie Nelson, 85, keeps going from strength-to-strength, and Last Man Standing is the strongest yet.

Willie Nelson, “Last Man Standing” –

Thursday, May 10th, 2018
Robert Christgau


Willie Nelson: Last Man Standing (Legacy)

As Nelson made room for his 85th birthday, he also beefed up his wee catalogue by adding 11 new tunes written with whipper-snapping seventy-something Buddy Cannon. Their organizing concept is wisdom as opposed to age brags proper like “I don’t want to be the last man standing / But wait a minute maybe I do.” Sometimes the wisdom is rakish: “I gave you a ring then you gave me the finger,” “He might not know me ’cause I’m low class / But tell him I’m the one with his head up his ass,” “Bad breath is better than no breath at all.” Sometimes it’s paradoxical: “We were getting along just fine / Just me and me,” “So many people, it sure is lonely.” Sometimes it’s just deep: “It’s not something you get over / It’s just something you get through.”

Always it sounds like it started with an idea that popped out of his mouth or sidled in from his subconscious, and who knows, maybe the weed helped—with an eye on retirement income, he’s now marketing his own brand, Willie’s Reserve. Over impeccably relaxed session work, that wisdom is delivered with a clarity and resonance that would inspire substance abusers half his age to quit drinking if they had his brains or soul.


Robert Christgau

The self-proclaimed “Dean of American Rock Critics,” Robert Christgau was one of the pioneers of music criticism as we know it. He was the music editor at the Village Voice for almost four decades where he created the trusted annual Pazz & Jop Poll. He was one of the first mainstream critics to write about hip-hop and the only one to review Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water with one word: “Melodic.” On top of his columns, he has published six books, including his 2015 autobiography, Going Into the City . He currently teaches at New York University. Every week, we publish Expert Witness, his long-running critical column. To find out more about his career, read his welcome post ; for four decades of critical reviews, check out his regularly updated website.

Read article here.

Win copy of Willie Nelson’s new album, “Last Man Standing” (and a photo Trigger)

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

Win a copy of Willie Nelson new album “Last Man Standing” and a print of his guitar (pictured below), signed by photographer/author Lisa S. Johnson!

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