Archive for the ‘black and white’ Category
Photograph by Ian Gittler / Used With Permission
- The Nearness of You
- Fly Me to the Moon
- Come Rain or Come Shine
- If I Had You (with Diana Krall)
- Ain’t Misbehaving
- I Miss You So
- Because of You
- Baby, It’s Cold Outside (with Norah Jones)
- Angel Eyes
- On the Street Where You Live
- Since I Fell For You
- You Were Always on My Mind
photo: Glen Rose
by: P. Cooper
Buddy Cannon, esteemed Nashville songwriter, musician and producer, got up one morning in 2011 and noticed he’d received a text message while slumbering.
The text said “Roll me up and smoke me when I die.”
Its sender was a fellow named Willie Nelson.
“I got out of bed, picked my phone up and that text was there, and I laughed my (posterior) off,” Cannon says. “Since then, we’ve written probably 25 songs together by texting back and forth.”
How do you write a song with 81-year-old Country Music Hall of Famer Willie Nelson? It helps to have a good mobile plan. Cannon has never been in the same room with Nelson to write a song, but the two co-wrote nine of the 14 songs on the new, Cannon-produced “Band of Brothers” album. That album just made its debut atop the “Billboard” country albums chart.
“I’ll get up, look at my phone and there’ll be a text from him, with a verse or some lines,” Cannon says. “I’ll start tweaking and adding, and we’ll pass it back and forth. When it looks like it’s where we ought to be, we hum a melody to teach each other over the phone. Then he has me go in and cut a track, and he comes in and sings it and plays guitar.”
Easy enough, then. At least for Cannon. For the rest of us, it’s tougher to get Willie’s cell phone number than it would be to get a healthy (or unhealthy, depending on your point-of-view) inhalation of Willie’s favorite herb. But Willie trusts Buddy, and has since 2007, when Nelson added a vocal to Kenny Chesney’s version of the Cannon-produced classic “Lucky Old Sun.”
“He came in and did his vocal, and I made a rough mix and sent it to him,” Cannon says. “A couple of days later, he called my cell and said, ‘Hey, Buddy, this is Willie. That’s the best version I’ve ever heard on that song. Let’s find some songs and go make a record.’ ”
And so Cannon and Chesney produced Nelson’s 2008 album “Moment of Forever,” which included gems from the pens of Kris Kristofferson, Randy Newman, Guy Clark, Gary Nicholson, Bob Dylan and Paul Craft, among others.
Cannon has been working with Nelson ever since, blending Nelson’s acoustic guitar and longtime Nelson cohort Mickey Raphael’s harmonica with session honchos including drummer Eddie Bayers, bass man Kevin “Swine” Grantt and steel guitarists Mike Johnson and Tommy White.
“Every time he sings a song, he does something spectacular,” Cannon says. “The magic of Willie is his phrasing and his choice of notes. Nobody else on the planet does what he does. But you have to let him do it. I’ve seen people start trying to give him direction, and he’s apt to walk out the door, get on his bus and leave.”
Nelson doesn’t skip out on Cannon-produced sessions. They’ve done five albums together, and Cannon recently accompanied Nelson on a northeast trip to do television appearances in support of “Band of Brothers.” Cannon has grown comfortable around his text-happy friend, but Nelson is also a hero to Cannon, who has worked with industry honchos including Chesney, Vern Gosdin, Mel Tillis and Jamey Johnson.
“Recording with him is the ultimate,” Cannon says. “The first memory I have of him was driving around in Chicago in the 1960s and hearing his versions of ‘Columbus Stockade Blues’ and ‘Home in San Antone’ on the radio. The phrasing was so out there that it hooked me.”
These days, Cannon doesn’t have to check the radio to hear from Nelson. He can usually just check his text messages, and find lines such as “Bring it on,” “Wives and girlfriends” and “I thought I left you.” Lately, the texts are coming fast.
“We’ve got a record that just came out, and Willie’s head is already in the next album,” Cannon says. “Sometimes, he’ll send me a lyric where I can’t figure out what he’s talking about. One, he sent me a year ago, and I’m still trying to figure out what he’s saying. I dig it out and look at it a lot because I know there’s something there.”
photo: Marty Stuart
Fred Foster (center) signed Willie to his label, Monument Records, in 1964.
Modeled after the Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic he began in 1972, the concert was to be a nine hour event featuring Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, the Stray Cats, Linda Ronstadt, and, of course, Willie Nelson, himself.
Approximately 25,000 tickets were sold for the concert. High temperatures for the day were to be between 85 and 90, but Dome officials were confident that the air circulation system would keep the air moving inside the building.
Carrier Dome business manager David Skiles predicted, “We feel it will be quite pleasant.”
The next day’s Herald American review began by declaring that the Texas Woodstock had become the Syracuse Sauna.
Thorice Berger, of Syracuse, kicked off her shoes and “wilted” against the wall in the air-conditioned Ernie Davis Room. “I would have liked it better if it were outside,” she said.
The heat reminded many of the first football game played at the Dome against Miami of Ohio in September 1980, when 50,000 fans literally sweated through a SU victory.
Sixteen vent fans had been regulated to work at maximum capacity, but the temperature under the Dome’s roof remained at about 84 degrees throughout the afternoon. And, the newspaper said, “it was never this humid in Texas.”
By night’s end the Herald American reported, “One of every five men were shirtless, policemen opened their collars, and everything made of paper had begun to wilt.” More than 300 people were treated for heat exhaustion, although none had to be hospitalized.
Another issue for spectators was the concessions. The Dome’s beer ban policy had been cancelled for the event, and 350 kegs of Budweiser were ordered, to go with 40,000 hot dogs, 10,000 boxes of popcorn, and Texas favorites like bowls of chili and nachos.
Fans waited in line for an hour and a half for beer, until the taps started going dry at 8:30 p.m., just before Nelson was to perform.
Some speculated that concessions ran out as a form of crowd control.
Consumers were also greeted with the first across-the-board price increases since the Dome first opened. Prices of Dome Dogs were up a quarter, to $1.25, as were sixteen ounce beers, up to $1.75.
The bargain of the show was Willie Nelson’s Chicken Dinner – chicken fingers, cole slaw, biscuit and cookie for $3.
Despite the complaints, most everyone enjoyed the music. The Herald American said, “But as damp as shirts were in the Carrier Dome, spirits weren’t.”
“Fans rocked to the Stray Cats, sang along with Linda Ronstadt, whistled their approval of Emmylou Harris, and were fired up for Merle Haggard.”
Willie Nelson’s two-hour grand finale had the audience “swinging in their seats.”
A caption in the paper summed it up, “They complained about the heat and the concession lines, but when the stomping was over, they loved Willie Nelson.”