Archive for the ‘This Day in Willie Nelson History’ Category

This day in Willie Nelson History: Armadillo World Headquarters show (8/11/72)

Monday, August 11th, 2014

img713 by you.

On April 11, 1972, Willie Nelson made his first appearance at Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin

 “In Nashville, I was taking advice from the experts — they were telling me what to do.  It wasn’t that they were wrong, it’s just that it was wrong for me.  Someone said one time that a leader is a guy who sees a lot of people going in one direction and then jumps out in front of them.  I don’t know if this is what was happening or not.  I might have seen the young people going for the kind of music that I played, so I went to that audience, to get the energy from those young people and it got the attention of the rest of the world.”

– Willie Nelson

photo:  South Austin Popular Culture Center

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Swing Vote” opens in theaters

Friday, August 1st, 2014

On August 1, 2008, the Kevin Costner movie “Swing Vote” debuted in theaters featuring cameo by Willie Nelson. Also in the movie: Kelsey Grammer, Larry King, Dennis Hopper and Richard Petty.

Willie Nelson filmed a scene for the Kevin Kostner movie “Swing Vote” at the Harn Homestead and Museum in Oklahoma City (www.harnhomestead.com).  Willie was also in town performing in Last of Breed tour with Merle Haggard and Ray Price.

Cher Golding, executive director of the Museum, kindly sent me these pictures of Willie being filmed, and Willie posing with the staff at the museum.

Linda,

Attached are a few photos of the shoot at the Harn Homestead Museum. Willie played ‘Always on my Mind’ in front of our Event Barn.  After filming, he signed a few autographs and posed for photos with the Harn Homestead Museum staff.

Cher L. Golding, Executive Director
Harn Homestead Museum
313 NE 16th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
Phone: 405-235-4058
Fax: 405-235-4041
www.harnhomestead.com

 

 

 

This day in Willie Nelson History: Democratic National Convention (7/29/04)

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

On July 29, 2004, Willie Nelson performed “Living in the Promiseland”, on the night presidential candidate John Kerry accepts the nomination at the Democratic National Convention” at Boston’s Fleet Center.  Carole King and Mavis Staples also performed.

This day in Willie Nelson History: President Jimmy Carter joins Willie Nelson on stage in Georgia (7/27/2008)

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

On July 27, 2008,  Jimmy Carter joined Willie Nelson and Family on stage and played harmonica on “Georgia On My Mind” during a concert at Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta.

“Five different times I’ve been on the stage with Willie Nelson,” Carter said. “He always calls me up on his final number, which is usually ‘Amazing Grace,’ and we sing a duet together. He’s very careful to turn the microphone completely away from my voice.” – Jimmy Carter

carter

Former President Jimmy Carter once told Rolling Stone magazine that “all the good things I did as president, all the mistakes I made – you can blame half of that on Willie.”

 

 

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Red Headed Stranger” debuts on album charts (7/21/1975)

Monday, July 21st, 2014

On this day in 1975, Willie debuted on the album charts with “Red Headed Stranger,” which included the hit song “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.”

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Living in the Promiseland” #1 on charts (June 28, 1986

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

On June 28, 1986 Willie Nelson’s album, “Living in the Promiseland” becomes #1 on Billboard.

This day in Willie Nelson history, Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow, “Crossroads” on CMT (5/21/02)

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Photo: Rick Diamond

On May 21, 2002, Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow tape an installment of “CMT Crossroads” on the Sony Pictures lot in Los Angeles. Here is the entire show, as it aired on June 7, 2002.

Enjoy the entire show that someone uploaded to youtube.

www.cmt.com

Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow met first in 1999 when they were part of a New York tribute concert honoring Johnny Cash. Nelson and Crow opened their CMT Crossroads taping with “Jackson,” one of the songs they performed at the Cash tribute. As they did in New York, Nelson played Cash to Crow’s June Carter.

Their friendship has grown since their first meeting. Crow, raised in a musical household in Missouri, reveres Nelson as the “king of phrasing” and “the voice that was the soundtrack to my childhood.” Nelson regards Crow as a worthy musical colleague, an inheritor of his musical “outlaw” spirit and a fit audience for his dirty jokes.

Nelson played an electric guitar throughout the night instead of his battered classical acoustic, dubbed “Trigger.” (Crow said her instruments have no names, but she might refer to them as “my little money makers.”) “My guitar,” Nelson explained, “is on the way to Amsterdam [for a European tour]. I am following soon behind.”

The singers each took care to match the other’s vocal phrasing, casting sidelong glances at each other throughout their performance. Of “Let It Be Me,” Nelson proclaimed the duo “happy to be resurrecting a great song.” He toyed with the familiar phrasing and seemed to challenge Crow to do the same. “It wasn’t perfect, but it was tasty,” she said after the first take.

Songs:

01. Jackson
02. Abilene
03. City of New Orleans
04. Let It Be Me
05. It’s So Easy
06. You Remain
07. Crazy
08. Every Day Is A Winding Road

This day in Willie Nelson history: Willie Nelson named Texas State Musician for 2009

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

texas

http://www.arts.state.tx.us

On May 20, 2009, Willie Nelson is named the Texas State Musician for 2009 by the Texas Commission on the Arts has named Willie Nelson the 2009 Texas State Musician.

 

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, The Texas Commission on the Arts has announced the 2009 and 2010 appointments for the positions of State Poet Laureate, State Musician, State Two-Dimensional Artist, and State Three-Dimensional Artist; and

WHEREAS, Honorees are chosen for the exceptional quality of their work and for their outstanding commitment to the arts in Texas; nominees must either be native Texans or have resided in the state for at least five years; in addition, they must have received critical recognition from state, regional, and national publications, and they must have attained the highest levels of excellence in their respective disciplines; and

WHEREAS, The 2009 Texas State Poet Laureate is Paul Ruffin, a Distinguished Professor of English at Sam Houston State University; the author of six acclaimed books of poetry as well as several volumes of fiction and nonfiction, Mr. Ruffin has published poems in hundreds of journals and anthologies; he is also the founder and editor of The Texas Review and the director of Texas Review Press; and

WHEREAS, Willie Nelson is the 2009 Texas State Musician; this legendary Texas performer was playing the guitar at the age of 6 and performing at 10; after establishing himself in Nashville as a hit songwriter, he returned to Texas and soon became world-famous as an interpreter of his own songs and as an icon of the outlaw country music movement; he has further distinguished himself as a film and television actor and entrepreneur, as well as an ever-popular touring concert artist who has been involved in numerous charity events such as FarmAid; and

WHEREAS, The 2009 Texas State Two-Dimensional Artist is Rene Alvarado; born in Mexico, he came to the United States with his family as a boy, and his work powerfully evokes the values and heritage of his native country, finding universal resonance in the rich particularity of Mexican culture; his work has been featured in galleries and exhibitions throughout Texas and the Southwest; and

WHEREAS, Eliseo Garcia has been selected as the 2009 Texas State Three-Dimensional Artist; his inspiring bas-relief sculptures pay homage to the importance of family, love, and spirituality while reflecting the ancient cultural traditions of the Aztec and Mayan civilizations; often carved out of Texas limestone, his works are on permanent display in arts centers, hospitals, libraries, and other public buildings across the state; and

WHEREAS, Fort Worth native and Denton resident Karla K. Morton has been named as the 2010 Texas State Poet Laureate; a songwriter and children’s book author as well as a celebrated poet, Ms. Morton performs her poetry across the state and has recorded her poems with musical accompaniment; she is a founder of the Denton Poet’s Assembly and a member of the board of directors of the Greater Denton Arts Council; and

WHEREAS, Sara Hickman of Austin will be the 2010 Texas State Musician; this talented singer-songwriter has recorded many critically acclaimed albums; the daughter of a painter and a weaver, the multitalented Ms. Hickman is also a painter; she supports many social causes through her work and regularly performs and records music for children; and

WHEREAS, Austin painter Marc Burckhardt has been named as the 2010 Texas State Two-Dimensional Artist; born in Germany and raised in Texas, Mr. Burckhardt combines European imagery with thematic material from contemporary American life; his mischievous wit is enhanced by his adoption of the glazing and varnishing techniques of the old masters, and his work has been featured in galleries and shows around the nation and across the world; and

WHEREAS, The 2010 Texas State Three-Dimensional Artist will be John Bennett, who began sculpting figures in 1976 and cast his first bronze in 1985; acclaimed for his sculptures of women, he has created works depicting women from all walks of life, from Old West legend Annie Oakley to 98-year-old Alice Reeves, a former schoolteacher and granddaughter of a slave; one of his pieces was selected by the Women’s Museum for display at the White House in 1999; and

WHEREAS, The men and women who have been selected to hold these prestigious posts for the next two years have all greatly contributed to the vibrant cultural life of the Lone Star State, and Texas is indeed fortunate to be home to these talented artists; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the 81st Legislature of the State of Texas hereby honor the 2009 and 2010 appointees to the positions of State Poet Laureate, State Musician, State Two-Dimensional Artist, and State Three-Dimensional Artist and extend to each of them sincere best wishes for continued creativity and achievement.

The Texas state musicians are selected for one-year appointments by the Texas Poet Laureate, State Musician and State Artist Committee.

2003 – James Dick, Round Top

2004 – Ray Benson, Austin

2005 – Johnny Gimble, Tyler

2006 – Billy Joe Shaver, Waco

2007 – Dale Watson, Pasadena, Austin

2008 – Shelley King, Austin

2009 – Willie Nelson, Austin, Abbott

2010 – Sara Hickman, Austin

2011 – Lyle Lovett, Klein

2012 – Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Houston

2013 – Craig Hella Johnson, Austin

2014 – Leonardo “Flaco” Jiménez, San Antonio

This day in Willie Nelson History: “Stagecoach” movie airs, with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings,

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

On May 18, 1986, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings appear in a CBS-TV remake of the western movie “Stagecoach,” along with June Carter, John Schneider, John Carter Cash, Jessi Colter, David Allan Coe and Billy Swan.

stagecoach6

This movie stars Willie Nelson, and his Highwaymen buddies, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings. Great soundtrack, lots of Trigger playing throughout. Willie sings the title song, which he wrote with David Alan Coe, who also is in the movie, along with June Carter and other faces you will recognize.

Willie Nelson plays Doc Holiday. The movie has some of the best/worst movie lines ever:

Willie: “Is that the deck you play with?”

Waylon: “One of them.”

Willie: “May I see it, please? I must say, I admire your guts.”

Waylon: “Does that mean you wouldn’t play cards with me?”

Willie: “That means I’d shoot you on sight.”

Kris: Where ya headed?

Dallas: “I knew the answer to that when I was about 14. Then I hit 15 and I ran head onto that thing called reality. And I been walking with a lantern ever since.”

Waylon: “Don’t light that.”

Willie: “Did you say something?”

Waylon: “A gentleman doesn’t smoke in the presence of a lady”

Willie: “I wouldn’t like to think that you are implying that I am anything less. I may be, you understand, but I just wouldn’t want to hear you say it.”

Willie: “And what are you looking at, friend?”

Man: “That’s a filthy habit, smoking, just filthy.”

Willie: “I have a lot of filthy habits. Most of them I find very enjoyable”

Man: “Don’t you have any good habits.”

Willie: “You mean something that can be admired, and held up to a child as a good example?”

Man: “Yes, something like that.”

Willie: “No sir. Children despise that. There’s nothing a child despises more than a good example.”

 

June Carter to Willie (when he drinks a shot of whiskey): “Did you eat?”

Willie: “I ate a lot when I was young.”

This day in Willie Nelson history: Willie Nelson receives Honorary Doctor of Music Degree from Berklee College of Music (5/11/13)

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

gma.yahoo
www.Boston.com
www.gma.yahoo.com

by: Johanna Kaiser

Some of the most respected names in music celebrated the next generation of singers, songwriters, performers, and producers Saturday at Berklee College of Music’s commencement ceremony.

Award-winning musicians Carole King, Willie Nelson, and Annie Lennox joined 6,000 students, friends and family members at Berklee’s commencement ceremony at Agganis Arena Saturday morning to receive honorary doctorates of music.

During her commencement address, Lennox, best known as a member of the duo Eurythmics and for her solo music career, looked back on her journey to becoming a famous singer-songwriter.

“I didn’t even know that such a thing was possible,” she said, recalling her parents paying for music lessons even when it was hard to make ends meet, her first instruments, and some of her first performances.

Lennox, who has won four Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, the American Music Awards Lifetime Achievement, Billboard’s Century Award, said she hoped her story would inspire the graduates and show them the “value of unorthodoxy.”

From The Beatles to The Rolling Stones, from Marvin Gaye to Aretha Franklin, Lennox recalled the musicians of the 1960s and 1970s that inspired her and to the delight of the more than 1,050 graduating students she even belted out lines from songs some of their songs—including on by fellow honoree King.

“I realized that I had to unlearn just about everything I had been taught about music and embrace the spectacular notion that I actually was a singer-songwriter and I was going to my own thing in my own way,” she said

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Lennox, King, and Nelson for the joined students for a concert Friday night where students paid tribute the musicians and performed with Nelson and longtime collaborator Kris Kristofferson.

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“The history of music has been good, but the future is even better thanks to you folks,” Nelson told the more than 1,050 graduating students—the largest graduating class in school history–after receiving his honorary degree.

Berklee president Roger H. Brown congratulated the students on their achievements, but urged them to use their success to benefit others.

“Not only did they excel in music, but they used their music to do something good in the world,” Brown said. “I hope you students will take note of that.”

King has worked with environmental groups to support forest wilderness preservation, and Nelson co-founded Farm Aid to assist American family farmers. Lennox is an ambassador for UNAIDS, Oxfam, Amnesty International, and the British Red Cross, and has worked to prevent gender-based violence and the spread of HIV around the world.

“So let us go and work and expand that spirit of creative and harmonious community far behind the confines of our small campus,” Brown said.

Lennox, who dropped out of the Royal Academy of Music in London and worked as a waitress before forming the Eurythmics with David Stewart, reminded the graduating students, who ranged in age 19 to 57, that they could go anywhere from here.

“Wherever you think you’re heading right now, you might turn out to take a completely different route down a completely different path,” she said. “And what looks like the end might actually be the start of a brand new beginning.”

www.wcvb

www.countryweekly.com
by:  Sarah Rodman

His songs have no doubt healed many hearts over the course of his legendary career, but now it’s official: Willie Nelson is a doctor.

On Saturday, the Berklee College of Music in Boston awarded Willie an honorary doctor of music degree. He briefly addressed the graduates, telling them, “The history of music has been good, but the future is even better thanks to you folks.”

Willie got to know some of the students Friday night (May 10) when he took part in the annual commencement concert, jamming with them on his tune “Night Life” and Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya (On the Bayou),” for which he was joined by good friend Kris Kristofferson. Kris also surprised Willie on Saturday when he donned a cap and gown to help bestow the doctorate honors onstage.

In a chat on his bus before the show, Willie said he was humbled to receive the honors and tickled that the students were so well-versed in his music. “I’m naturally shocked and surprised that this whole thing is happening to begin with, and to have a bunch of young musicians that are very knowledgeable of your music and are playing it, that’s very good.”

When asked what advice he might have for the aspiring musicians, Willie said he only ever gave one piece of advice: “Don’t take my advice, do what you want to do. If it’s something that you believe in, don’t take no for an answer.”

It’s a philosophy that has served him well.

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Highwayman” album released (5/2/1985)

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

1985 Columbia releases the “Highwayman” album, teaming Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson

On May 2, 1985, Columbia Records released the “Highwayman” album, with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson

The Highwaymen:  Four Superstars Come Together
Music City News
August 1985
by Neil Pond

I was a highwayman
Along the coach roads I did ride
A sword and pistol by my side
Many a young maid lost her baubles to my trade
Many a soldier shed his lifeblood on my blade
The master took me in the spring of ‘25
But I am still alive

I’ll always be around, and around, and around, and around.

by Jimmy Webb

Mystical and uplifting, Highwayman has become the summer’s collaborative hit for the superstar quartet of Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson.  Their new LP, also called “Highwayman,” is a a coming together of boldly distinctive stylists that prompted one reviewer to observe “if Mount Rushmore could sing, this is what it would sound like.”

At Willie’s recent 4th of July picnic event in Austin, the audience was treated to the first ever public appearance of “The Highwaymen,” as the foursome have come to be collectively called.  After an all-day rain, the quartet gathered onstage to sing three songs as the sky gradually opened and spilled luminous orange twilight throughout the dissipating clouds.  It was a grandiose bit of meterological staging — coincidence, you ask?  — that fit nicely with the cover of the album, which shows the heavens parting and the four entertainers peering through like gentle mythological gods.

But the “Highwayman” project, despite it’s majestic overtones, was not a carefully calculated attempt at clustering the individual stars into one spectacular supernova recording — although that’s pretty much how things turned out.

The album’s roots are actually in Switzerland, where Willie, Waylon and Kris were guests of Cash at the taping a Christmas TV special last year.  After performing together on the show the four returned stateside and joined forces to cut a couple of songs intended for Cash’s upcoming solo album.  One of the songs was Bob Seger’s Against the Wind, which they had all performed together on the TV special.  The other was Highwayman, a song by New York-based writer Jimmy Webb themed around reincarnation.

“We’d intended it for my solo album,” says Cash of the song.  “But the more we recorded together, the more we realized that it should be an album of the four of us.”

Once the idea for an entire quartet album was concrete, Cash decided to sideline his own album until the group project could be completed. For three nights the four singer/songwriters gathered at producer Chips Moman’s Nashville studio and bantered around songs that they felt would be appropriate for their collaboration.  They drew from material both familiar (like Cash’s own Big River and Guy Clark’s Desparados Waiting for a Train and obsure to come up with a slate of songs that somehow seemed to fit their individual and collective imagery as purveyors of things original, Old-Western, and American.

It’s the title cut, however, that is attracting the most attention.  Already a hit single and an engaging video, its haunting theme of reincarnation makes for unusual country music fare.  In the song, Willie, Kris, Waylon and Cash each sing the part of a different individual who, in the end, turns out to be various reincarnations of the same person, the highwayman of the title.

“As far as subject matter, it’s a very meaty topic,” explains Rick Blackburn, head of Nashville’s CBS Records who gave the ultimate go-ahead for “Highwayman.”  “But I think country music is ready to deal with heavier topics as opposed to the stereotypes we’ve had all along.”

Lest some listeners imply that the enterainers themselves might be espousing personal afterlife philosopy with the song, Cash responds that he, for one, holds to other beliefs.

“I don’t believe in reincarnation,” he says.  “I’m a Christian and I sang the song because I liked it.  It’s a good song.  It’s a good melody, it’s excellent lyrics written by a really great songwriter.  But so far as the philosophy and the religion, if you will, of the song… it’s not my belief.  I’m not making a statement of affirmation in belief of transmigration of souls or any such thing.”

Ego never raised it’s ugly head in “The Highwayman” project.   The recording sessions were dominated by a shared comraderie between the four entertainers, a brotherhood beyond the business at hand.

“We never had any problems,” says Waylon.  “We don’t think of each other as superstars.  There were no ego trips.  We’re a lot alike.  We’ve all had our starving days, paid our dues.  We have a lot of respect for each other.  If you don’t record with somebody you like, it ain’t gonna be no good.”

The future of The Highwaymen quartet is undecided at his point, although it’s possible that the four will be making several appearances together throughout the summer.  “We can’t decide whose band we want to use,” says Cash, referring to the equally terrific musical line-ups that back each entertainer.  The four will appear, however, as the Highwayman on the upcoming coming Country Music Association Awards show in October.

A movie project re-make of the John Ford classic Stagecoach that would star all four in leading roles has also been talked about.  “That’s a possibility,” says Cash.  Willie, Cash and Kris all have substantial movie acting experience, but Waylon’s film resume is practically bare. ”I don’t get very excited about doing movies,” explains Waylon.  “I’m a singer.”

In the meantime, Cash and Kristofferson are pegged to begin production in September on a CBS television movie called The Last Days of Jesse James. (Kris will be Jesse, Johnny will be his brother Frank.)

Individually , the four Highwaymen are currently wrapped up in their separate careers as well as the promotional hoopla surrounding their group LP.  Cash’s oslo album for Columbia is finishing production.  Willie’s “Half Nelson” LP, also for Columbia, of duets with various artists will be released soon.  Waylon’s new “Turn the Page” album on RCA is fresh in the stores this month.  Cash and Waylon have also completed a duet album for imminent release and are dicussing a possible Western movie pair-up.

Kristofferson, the only act of the four not currently affiliated with a record label, is staying very busy on the road with his Borlderlords band.  A movie called Trouble in Mind,  in which he will co-star with Keith Carradine, is scheduled for release around Christmas.

So the Highwaymen continue to ride, separately if not together.  And who knows?  There’s the prospect of another four-way album.  Cash says they’ve got almost enough material in the can from the previous sessions.

Nothing lasts forever, but it certainly seems as if these guys are planning, in some configuration, on being around, and around, and around and around…

The Highwaymen, Farm Aid VI (Ames, Iowa) (April 24, 1993)

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

This day in Willie Nelson history: Farm Aid VI, (Ames, Iowa) (April 24, 1993)

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

farmaidvi

All of America watched as the Flood of ’93 left thousands of Midwest families homeless. Heavy rains caused the Mississippi and Missouri rivers to rise up and overflow their banks, swallowing entire towns along the way. Eight million acres of crops were destroyed and 20 million acres were damaged. With their backs already against the wall due to heavy debt and low farm prices, Midwest family farmers had few resources left to deal with the effects of the flooding.

In response to the flood, Farm Aid created the Family Farm Disaster Fund to support organizations that worked directly with farm families stricken by the flood. When farmers needed help to avoid foreclosure due to losses from the flood, Farm Aid-funded groups were there to help them save their farms.

The 1993 concert included performances by Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, the Highwaymen, Sawyer Brown, Bruce Hornsby, Martina McBride, the Kentucky HeadHunters, Marty Stuart, Dwight Yoakam, Ringo Starr, Waylon Jennings, Bryan Adams, Paul Simon, Travis Tritt, Ricky Van Shelton and many others.

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Stardust” released (4/19/1978)

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

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On April 19, 1978, Columbia Records released Willie Nelson’s album, “Stardust.”

1. Stardust
2. Georgia on My Mind
3. Blue Skies
4. All of Me
5. Unchained Melody
6. September Song
7. On the Sunny Side of the Street
8. Moonlight in Vermont
9. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
10. Someone to Watch over Me
11. Scarlett Ribbons
12. I Can See Clearly Now

http://blogcritics.org

by Glen Boyd

Over the short course of the history of popular music (at least as we define it today in the mostly American sense), there are but a handful of artists who stand out as truly iconic figures.

These are those rare artists whose appeal transcends boundaries both artistic and generational. Gershwin, Berlin, Sinatra, and Bennett certainly all fall into this category. A decent argument could be mounted that the likes of Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Johnny Cash, and even Bob Dylan as well.

There are unique points in time where a song, an album, or an artist changes the way that the game is played forever. And for my money, Willie Nelson is a guy who did exactly that with his landmark 1978 album Stardust.

In 1977, when Willie first informed the executive brass at Columbia’s country division in Nashville of his intent to record an album of pop standards from the Great American Songbook — produced by Booker T, of “Green Onions” fame with the MGs no less — I can almost imagine their collective gasp of horror.

Willie had already changed the rules once, practically inventing the seventies “outlaw country” genre with his collaborations with fellow malcontent Waylon Jennings, and on his own 1975 classic Red Headed Stranger. But this was something else entirely.

If Willie was already a legend at the time, Stardust would forever cement his status as an icon. The album had a run on the Billboard charts which at the time was simply unprecedented for a country artist. It spent ten and a half years dominating the country charts, and 117 weeks on the Top Pop Albums side. Long before the days of Garth, Kenny, and the rest, this was a feat that was nothing short of astounding. The album is five times platinum, and remains a strong catalog seller to this day.

don’t have to tell you how timeless the music that Willie recorded on this original 1978 classic is. Or at least I shouldn’t have to.

Stardust is worth its weight in gold for Willie’s timeless takes on both the title track and “Unchained Melody” alone. On the latter, Willie strips down the symphonic blast of the version Phil Spector produced for the Righteous Brothers’ classic than it is  to a simple, plaintive sort of plea, anchored by that unremarkable, yet unmistakable voice.

As unique as Willie’s lonely voice is, the sound he gets from that beat up old guitar is likewise unmistakably his own. Willie’s guitar hero, flamenco jazzman Django Reinhardt, would definitely be proud. And while Ray Charles version of “Georgia On My Mind” may be the definitive blueprint, Willie’s take on Stardust comes damned close.

Willie’s visits to the Great American Songbook have remained a recurring theme throughout his career, and on the Stardust (30th Anniversary Legacy Edition), the second disc explores those from the years 1976 to 1990. The highlights here include Willie’s take on Louis Armstrong’s classic “What A Wonderful World,” as well as a trio of standards recorded with the great Leon Russell for the 1979 album One For The Road.

The way Willie Nelson wears his inspirations ” which, outside of country and bluegrass, range from ragtime to rock to jazz to R&B on his sleeve, especially on this seminal album, is what makes this American original the true icon that he is. Seriously, when it comes to Americana, this guy’s face belongs on Mount Rushmore.

This day in Willie Nelson history: Farm Aid IV (April 7, 1990)

Monday, April 7th, 2014

On April 7, 1990, Willie Nelson hosted Farm Aid IV in Indianapolis. Elton John dedicates “Candle In The Wind” to AIDS patient Ryan White, who dies that night. Also on hand: Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, Dwight Yoakam, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Kris Kristofferson, Jackson Browne, John Mellencamp and Neil Young.

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Selling out in 90 minutes, Farm Aid’s fourth concert in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 7 brought 70 artists together with farmers, environmental and consumer advocates. A new message emerged from that effort: the well-being of our land, food and water supply depends on a network of family farmers who care about how our food is grown.

The concert was televised live on The Nashville Network, and a two-hour highlight was re-broadcast to ten million viewers on CBS. In additional to Willie Nelson & Family, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, the musical line-up included Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, Jakcson Brown, Elton John, Don Henley, Dwight Yoakam, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Crosby Stills & Nash, and Garth Brooks. Elton John dedicates “Candle In The Wind” to AIDS patient Ryan White, who dies that night.

Willie Nelson and Kimmie Rhodes perform “Just One Love” live at the Farm Aid concert in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 7th, 1990. Farm Aid was started by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp in 1985 to keep family farmers on the land and has worked since then to make sure everyone has access to good food from family farmers. Dave Matthews joined Farm Aid’s board of directors in 2001.

For more information about Farm Aid, visit: http://farmaid.org