Archive for the ‘Mickey Raphael’ Category

Willie Nelson releases new live album, Willie Nelson Live At Budokan

Monday, November 21st, 2022
by: Casey Young

It was produced by Willie’s longtime harmonica player and friend Mickey Raphael, and includes sound of Willie’s historic 1984 Tokyo concert, which was the first time Willie and his family band ever played there.

Along with all the great live tracks I’ve added to my playlist, though, there are a few new live performances available now of some of his most iconic songs from that special show.

The first one being “Me and Bobby McGee,” which was of course originally written by Kris Kristofferson, who shared writing credits Fred Foster on the track, and first released by Roger Miller in 1969.

It was made most famous, though, when it was released posthumously by Janis Joplin. Her version hit #1 on the Billboard U.S. Singles chart in 1971, and Jerry Lee Lewis also released a version that went #1 on the country charts in 1971, as well. Kris actually didn’t even know Janis had recorded a version of the song until he heard it after she passed away.

Aside from those two, it’s been covered by tons of other country artists over the years, including Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton and even Johnny Cash, just to name a few.

Willie Nelson actually first included a studio version of the country classic on his 1979 23rd studio album Sings Kristofferson, which consisted only covers of Kris Kristofferson songs. The album peaked at #5 on the U.S. Country albums chart.

And the other incredible live performance he released from 1984 is of “Stardust,” the title track of Willie’s 1978 album. It was actually a cover of Hoagy Carmichael and Mitchell Parish’s 1928 jazz song, but Willie insisted on recording it back in the 70’s, even though his label at the time, Columbia Records, told him he was crazy.

The label was certain that the younger audience Willie had wouldn’t care about the older songs he’d chosen to record for the album (many of them were favorites from his childhood), but he was willing to take the chance.

He knew that some of his older fans would know the original versions of the songs, and his younger fans would figure he had written them anyways, so it didn’t really matter. He also included his mega-hit, #1 version of “Georgia On My Mind” on that tracklist, which was also a Hoagy Carmichael original.

And thank the Lord he was so adamant about it, because his rendition is one of the most legendary, recognizable albums and songs he ever put out.

In terms of this new project as a whole, Willie says that he believes music has the power to transcend cultures and beliefs, so he’s excited to be able to bring this special show to people all over the world:

“I believe that music, not only country music, but I believe that music is a great communicator. I think that is the great thing about music.”

A broadcast edition of Willie Nelson Live At Budokan is part of special programming premiering on PBS stations beginning this Saturday, November 26th, which will include live footage from the show.

The album is out on streaming platforms everywhere now, with a few of the other songs and rare footage up on Youtube, like a great video of “Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground.”

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Happy Birthday, Mickey Raphael

Monday, November 7th, 2022

photo: Mary Francis Andrews

Happy birthday, Mickey Raphael! Thanks for the music.


Mickey Raphael, Joni Mitchell and the late Stephen Bruton shared a birthday — November 7th. This is a picture taken in 1992 at their birthday dinner, in Los Angeles.

This entry was posted on Sunday, November 7th, 2021

Mickey Raphael, on harmonicas

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

photo: Mary Francis Andrews

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

Willie Nelson and Mickey Raphael

Thursday, July 15th, 2021


Willie Nelson and Mickey Raphael

Monday, April 12th, 2021

Mickey Raphael, on Harmonicas

Saturday, January 16th, 2021

Mickey Raphael:  Hand to Mouth

The Artists:

Mickey Raphael—Harmonica
Gene Rabbai, Jr.—Keyboards
Lee Michaels—Accordion
Ben Keith—Pedal Steel
Joe Lalo—Percussion
Billy Ray Austin—Guitar
Scott Page—Flute, Recorder
Willie Nelson—Guitar on Trude
Paul Butterfield—Harmonica Duet on Hand To Mouth

Track List

1.  Don’t It Make You Wonder
2 Trude (with Willie Nelson) 
3 If I only had a brain/Somewhere Over the Rainbow
4 Blue Angel 
5 246 W 11th St 
6 Asia Minor 
7 Mexico-co 
8 The Search 
9 Breathless
10All My Love-parts 1 &2
12 Hand to Mouth

But Mickey is so good, and the way he weaves his music around and under Willie’s singing and guitar playing, it’s pure magic. He makes it look easy, and it can’t be easy following Willie’s phrasing and the way he sings songs different every time.

You can sample Mickey’s album at his web site at,  He has recorded throughout the years with many artists, ranging from Elton John, U-2, Motley Crue, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Kenny Wayne Shephard, Neil Young, many others, and for several decades, Willie Nelson.  He said in an interview recently that he will be releasing another album soon, which is good news.

There’s a couple recordings I have, tapes of shows, I think, when Mickey plays a solo and then Willie goes, “Aaahhh, Mickey.”  And whenever Mickey gives an interview, he talks about what a big fan he is of Willie, so it is seems a truly a mutual admiration thing between them.

To listen to Mickey’s cds, or purchase a cd, or just see some great pictures of Mickey and Willie and the band, visit .

Mickey Raphael on harmonicas

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

Photo: Janis Tillerson

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

photo: Mary Francis Andrews

“I don’t smoke weed to get high,” — Willie Nelson

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

Happy birthday Mickey Raphael, Joni Mitchell, Steve Bruton (November 7)

Saturday, November 7th, 2020

Mickey Raphael, Joni Mitchell and the late Stephen Bruton shared a birthday — November 7th.  This is a picture taken in 1992 at their birthday dinner, in Los Angeles.

Paul Engish and Mickey Raphael

Monday, September 7th, 2020

Mickey Raphael, “I’m Going Fishing”

Sunday, July 19th, 2020

Paul English and Mickey Raphael

Friday, June 19th, 2020

Mickey Raphael and Paul English

Sunday, May 24th, 2020