Archive for the ‘Albums’ Category

Willie Nelson’s Guitar Doctor

Monday, February 13th, 2017
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

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”

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
, 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)

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

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.


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),

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)

< 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
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

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

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 “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.”


Willie Nelson talks about new album, “God’s Problem Child”

Saturday, January 14th, 2017
by: Kory Grow

“You can’t watch TV without seeing something about the inauguration,” Willie Nelsonsays with a laugh. Throughout the election cycle, the country singer had voiced support for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Now that the election is over, he has revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone that he has written a song titled “Delete and Fast-Forward” for his upcoming album.

When asked about the tune, he speaks some of its lyrics: “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.” When Rolling Stone suggests that it may be fast-forwarding only four years, he simply says, “Yeah.”

Much like the song’s lyrics, Nelson is unconcerned about the Trump administration possibly tightening the regulation of marijuana; Nelson owns Willie’s Reserve, a company that legally sells marijuana in Colorado. “Who cares?” he says gruffly about possible changes to the law. “I didn’t have any problem finding [marijuana] when it was illegal, and now that it’s legal, it’s still no problem. Making it illegal again won’t stop people from smoking. They should have learned that back in prohibition days.” (Nelson chuckles when asked about the weed-themed Christmas sweater Snoop Dogg sent him over the holidays. “It’s great; it’s a funny sweater,” he says.)

Nelson’s new LP, God’s Problem Child, will come out in April and will feature many new songs that he wrote with producer Buddy Cannon, who has worked on several Nelson records in recent years. “We have a system that works,” Nelson says of working with Cannon. “I write a verse and he’ll write a verse and next thing you know, we’ve got a song completed. Then we’ll get a melody, and he’ll go in the studio with a band to record it and put his vocal on there. Then when I get a chance, I go in the studio and I’ll record my vocal. Over the years, we put out four or five albums. It’s been really easy to do it that way.”

One of Nelson’s new originals is “Still Not Dead,” which Nelson says he wrote “’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.”

One of Nelson’s new originals is “Still Not Dead,” which Nelson says he wrote “’cause I’m still not dead.”

Nelson doesn’t stress out too much about songwriting, which he’s been doing more of in recent years. Whenever he gets an idea, he writes it down. “It could be anytime, day or night,” he says. And he’s not losing sleep over what he writes and whether or not he’s challenging himself. “I’m just conceited enough to think I can do anything,” he says. “Sometimes I can’t but I thought I could.” But that doesn’t mean he’s not open to other writers’ ideas.

The title track, which Nelson calls “a great song,” was written by Jamey Johnson and Tony Joe White. White and Nelson’s old buddy, Leon Russell, who died last year, make appearances on the song. “I guess that’s the last song he recorded,” he says of Russell. “I wasn’t in the studio when he did his part. I was gone. Last time I saw Leon was right after the [4th of July] Pi

“He was a great musician, a great singer and songwriter and a good friend,” he continues. “We liked hanging out together.” Russell, after all, was the first person to sign Nelson’s famous guitar, “Trigger.” “He wanted me to sign his guitar, and then he signed mine,” Nelson says.

Another song on the album, whose title Nelson declined to reveal, was written by Cannon’s mother. “His mom is 85 years old and plays the harmonica and she’s writing songs,” Nelson says. “She sang it and he sang it to me. I didn’t get a chance to meet her yet, but she wrote a great country song talking about the old house on the hill. Like Harlan Howard says, ‘A good country song is three chords and the truth.'”

Nelson will continue to spread those truths this year with several tour dates booked around the U.S. He’s also keeping busy with a movie he’s been writing and prepping for an appearance in Woody Harrelson’s upcoming “live movie” Lost in London, which is about a bad night Harrelson had in 2002 when he got arrested for breaking a taxi ashtray. The movie, which is a comedy, will be broadcast around the world in a single take on Thursday. “Woody asked me if I’d do it, and I said yeah,” Nelson says of the latter film. “In the film, he’s going through some problems and I’ll be giving him a little moral support.”

So is Nelson, who’s keeping such a busy schedule and recently wrote “Still Not Dead,” ready for retirement? “After every tour, I think about it, and after a while of not working, I’m ready to play,” he says. “I think I enjoy playing music more than I enjoy not playing music.”

New Willie Nelson album to be released in Spring, “God’s Problem Child”

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Willie Nelson is once again teaming up with his friend and producer, Buddy Cannon, for a new album scheduled to be released in the Spring.  The album, “God’s Problem Child”, will contain a song with Leon Russell, who passed away last year.  Also, the album includes Willie Nelson’s recording of a song written by Lyndel Rhodes, 92-year-old mother of producer Buddy Cannon, entitled “Little House on the Hill.

In these videos,   Buddy plays Willie Nelson’s recording of her song to his mother, and she sings along.  So sweet.

In the Studio with Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Vote for Willie Nelson, Lukas Nelson on Lone Star Music’s Best of 2016 Reader Poll

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Willie Nelson and Lukas Nelson are included in this poll of over 100 albums.  You can vote every day.  Vote early, vote often.



Cast your votes for your favorite Americana, Texas, and Red Dirt albums of the year.

We’ve taken the liberty of rounding up 100 eligible contenders — from best-sellers and chart-toppers from some of the biggest names in the genre to noteworthy releases by scrappy underdogs, legends, proud independents and buzz-building up-and-comers. All you have to do is scroll through our gallery and pick your favorites.

Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie, “December Day” (with liner notes by Mickey Raphael)

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie
“December Day”

Liner Notes by Mickey Raphael:

Peering through the control room glass into the studio, a cloud of smoke rises from Sister Bobbie Nelson’s Bosendorfer grand piano. After four hours of non-stop recording with baby brother Willie, perhaps she has ignited the keys during this marathon session???

Listening back to “I Never Cared for You,” the interplay between Bobbie and Will on the instrumental intro “Ou-es tu, mon amour” sets the mood perfectly for the darkness the song portrays.

“Nuages,” a song written by French Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt, showcases Willie’s dexterity and guitar genius.  Whenever we are just sitting around the bus, Willie will pick up a guitar and start playing.  Like the horse heading to the barn, he always gets around to “Nuages.”  It’s good mendicine for him.  And on this take, Bobbie’s piano provides the support that makes their performances seem effortless.

In the beautiful hill country near Austin, Texas you’ll find Willie’s Pedernales studio.  Willie and Bobbie are set up in the main room which is L-shaped and doesn’t allow direct eye contact during recording.  Without much discussion of an arrangement, Bobbie started playing and Willie began singing “Mona Lisa.”  That was the beginning of another magical session.

Recording engineer Steve Chadie and Willie’s friend and producer, Buddy Cannon were at the controls as it all happened. It’s kind of like photographing a ghost; you don’t really see it till the picture is fully developed.  Throughout these sessions Bobbie and Willie played continuously and seemed to never run out of song ideas — which is a producer’s dream (or nightmare).  Eventually songs had to be picked for the final selections.  With so many outstanding performances to choose from.  I’m glad I wasn’t a part of that process.

As long as I can remember.  Willie and Bobbie, who ride together on Willie’s bus, spend some of their traveling time jamming on their favorite songs.  Bobbie has a travels size keyboard on the bus and Willie’s guitar, Trigger, is always by his side.  This is where the idea for DECEMBER DAY was born.  “Why not record our favorite songs like we play them for ourselves?”  Bobbie asked.

In 2010 after ending a tour in Austin, Texas, the band, made up of Paul and Billy English, Bee Spears and myself, went in the studio to record with Bobbie and Willie.  The song “What’ll I do” is especially bittersweet because of the passing of Bee Speers.  Bee was Willie’s bass player for more than four decades and this was the last recording session he played with us.  He is missed by us all.

In 2012 while recording songs for the record LET’S FACE THE MUSIC AND DANCE, we would stray from the song list every once in a while.  Willie might call out a song title or Bobbie might have a suggestion and this was the fun part of recording with these guys.  You didn’t know where the music was going next.  “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” was born from such a diversion.  We are all fans of the Irving Berlin songbook and of the Ray Charles version, so this was a perfect tribute to both.

In 2004, another impromptu visit to the studio resulted in three songs penned by Willie.  “Walkin'” is truly a classic.  Originally heard in the concept album PHASES AND STAGES, this version goes right to the heart.  Willie’s guitar solo hits you like a gunshot at the O.K. Corral.  If through is the question, then Bobbie is the answer as nothing rings more true than her piano.

“Laws of Nature” is an “a-ha” moment.  Willie writes like he’s talking to you face-to-face.  Bobbie provides the soundtrack for that conversation.  It’s easy to make records with these guys.  You just have to listen… and then  react from the heart.  It’s pretty primal.

The song “Amnesia” rounded out those sessions but honestly, I can’t remember anything about it.

Raised by their grandparents in Abbott, a small farming community north of Waco, Texas, Willie and Bobbie began a musical odyssey that has continued for over 70 years.  Daddy Nelson taught Willie how to play guitar when he was seven, and momma Nelson taught sister Bobbie the piano when she was nine.  Sundays were spent playing at the Abbott Methodist church and gave Bobbie and Willie the spiritual foundation that still can be found in their music.

When it comes to a brother-sister collaboration with the longevity of Willie and Bobbie, there is beauty in keeping things simple, “Less is more” is the underlying theme.  We’ve heard these songs before but not like this.  The spontaneity born out of familiarity is what this record, DECEMBER DAY is all about.

It’s not rocket science.  It’s alchemy.

Mickey Raphael
Nashville, TN


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 and Larry Butler

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Thanks to Doug Milford for sharing this great picture of two friends in Luck, Texas.

Jun 01, 2000

1. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
2. Half as Much
3. May You Never Be Alone Like Me
4. Move It on Over
5. Wedding Bells
6. Your Cheatin’ Heart
7. Cold Cold Heart
8. My Sweet Love Ain’t Around
9. Hey Good Lookin’
10. Lonesome Whistle, (I Heard That)

Producer:Larry Butler, David Zettner Personnel includes: Larry Butler, Willie Nelson, David Zettner, Bobby Bowman, Charlie Lindsley, Tony Pickens, Ron Kruth. Recorded at Austin, Perdenales Studios, Austin, Texas.