Archive for the ‘Songs’ Category

20 Great Willie Nelson Songs

Sunday, October 1st, 2017

www.wideopencountry.com
by:  Jonathan Frahm

There are many reasons why Willie Nelson is a revered name in country music. They range from his 1962 debut to his part in founding the outlaw movement with his partners Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. Then there are tales that tell of his softer side with his sister Bobbie and the Family Band. The Red Headed Stranger’s legacy runs deeper than some might expect.

There are a slew of songs that Willie has undoubtedly made his own. Yet, it seems for every song he’s written that is undeniably a Nelson song, there’s another iconic tune he’s penned for another influential artist.

In other cases, it’s his own covers that Willie’s done particular justice. With a taste that ranges from Ray Charles to the Great American Songbook and Coldplay, you can bet this legend has made his mark on a wide spread of songs.

There’s just something everlasting about Willie Nelson’s talents. Since …And Then I Wrote was released 55 years ago, the Texas outlaw has released a whopping 172 albums. Among them are dozens of long-lasting hits that have secured his place as one of America’s finest singer-songwriters to ever live.

“Always On My Mind”

Although it’s arguably the song Willie Nelson is best known for, “Always On My Mind” isn’t even a tune that he’d written himself. It was penned by Denver songwriter Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher and Mark James and was first recorded by Gwen Macrae in 1972. While Elvis Presley and Brenda Lee released their own versions that same year, it was Willie’s rendition that broke records and went platinum a decade later.

“Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground”

Near the peak of his popularity in the mid-1980s, Willie starred in a romantic drama called Honeysuckle Rose. Not only did he play the lead character, Buck Bonham, but he also wrote songs to feature in the film, including “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.” The heartbreaking love song remains a staple in country music today, from Austin to Nashville and all around the world.

“Bloody Mary Morning”

Willie originally wrote “Blood Mary Morning” in 1970 to reflect his worries about parenting. When it was reworked for his concept album 1974 cover album Phases and Stages, the song took on a whole new meaning, this time about heartbreaking rambler about a jilted man left by his lover.

“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”

Nelson hit his stride in the mid-70s, and it’s this song that is often credited for revitalizing his career. Originally written by Fred Rose in the 1940s, other country greats like Hank Williams had already recorded renditions of the song. But it’s Willie’s stripped-back take on this traditional country tune that resonates the most with listeners today.

“Blue Skies”

“Blue Skies” exemplifies Willie Nelson’s knack for taking a tune from the Great American Songbook, and transforming it into something that’s all his own. The song was written in 1926, as a last-minute addition to the musical The Jazz Singer. Nelson’s version gives the standard a bluesy, dreamy quality.

“City of New Orleans”

Nelson has covered a number of old folk songs in his day, the most notable being Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans.” Arlo Guthrie had the first notable cover in 1972, but Nelson’s 1984 recording brought the tune all the to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Goodman even won a posthumous Grammy Award for writing the song in 1985 as a result.

“Crazy”

Most songs that Nelson writes are best associated with his own quirky twang and ability to sink just about any arrangement right into his offbeat phrasing. That said, “Crazy” is best known as Patsy Cline‘s breakout hit and for many a good reason.

“Funny How Time Slips Away”

Written by Willie all the way back at the start of his career in 1961, it wasn’t until 2001 that he released a studio version of the song alongside Juice Newton. However, he’s performed it for decades alongside many of his contemporaries. The track was received well by the country music community long before him and Newton’s rendition. It was recorded by 15 other artists prior to Nelson and Newton’s take, including George Jones and Al Green.

“Georgia On My Mind”

It may not be as iconic as Ray Charles‘ take in 1960, but Willie still offered enough gusto to this easygoing and soulful rendition that it’s often remembered by his fans as one of his very best covers.

“Good Hearted Woman”

Amongst all of The Highwaymen, it’s Willie’s relationship with Waylon Jennings that may well be the most warmly regarded. The two put out a string of hits together, and it all started with “Good Hearted Woman” in 1971.

“Hello Walls”

Near the very start of his career in the early 1960s, Willie Nelson was already exercising his songwriting muscle and shopping tunes around to other performers. Faron Young was one of the first to notably take on one of Willie’s tunes, with “Hello Walls” becoming a big success for him in 1961. It spent 23 weeks at the top of the Billboard charts. Willie released his own smooth-crooning version the following year.

“Last Thing I Needed the First Thing This Morning”

Unlike other songs written by other names in the business, Willie Nelson was the first to offer up his take on this “cover.” He once again proves that he’s just as prolific a songwriter as he is an interpreter, offering such a genuine take on heartbreak that one wouldn’t be remiss to assume he’d written it himself. More recently, Chris Stapleton took on his own soulful rendition on From A Room, Vol 1.

“Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”

Another hit record of Waylon and Willie’s was featured on their 1978 duet album of nearly the same name. The anthemic country swing tune went on to win a Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

“Mr. Record Man”

At the start of his career, Willie Nelson was down on his luck. Finding himself in poverty, he tried selling “Mr. Record Man” to Larry Butler, who instead gave him as job as one of his songwriters. When his songs proved to be successes for other artists, Willie was recognized by Liberty Records and given his own gig as a country singer. Henceforth, his own take on “Mr. Record Man” was one of his first notable performances.

“My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”

Honeysuckle Rose wasn’t the only film that Nelson wrote songs for. Although his buddy Waylon first put out his take on the song in 1976, it Willie’s version that was featured in The Electric Horseman film. It’s a reflection on the dream of being a cowboy set directly up against its reality that many listeners may be able to relate to.

“On the Road Again”

What might very well be Nelson’s most iconic song was written on a barf bag, of all things. Most noteworthy, though, is its rollicking “train beat” and enduring tale of travel. Those alone make it a country music chestnut for the ages.

“Pancho and Lefty”

Often seen as Townes Van Zandt’s most well-known song, several dutiful interpreters of song have covered it over the years. All the while, it’s Willie and Merle’s rendition that stands best alongside Townes’ as a stunning take on this classic outlaw ballad.

“Seven Spanish Angels”

After releasing his own take on a Ray Charles tune, the two musical megatons came together to perform a duet. The two artists crossover into each other’s lanes magnificently on the track, culminating into a ballad that is just as much country as it is gospel and soul.

“The Scientist”

Who knew that Willie Nelson and Coldplay would go together so well? At 76 years old in 2011, Willie brings a weathered and wizened version of this heart-wrenching contemporary classic. Consequently, it even rivals the quality of the original.

“Whiskey River”

Originally recorded by Johnny Bush, Willie Nelson put his stamp on this song back in ’73 on Shotgun Willie. Since then it’s become one of his go-to songs at live shows. This includes its sport as the opening track on the setlist for his live album Live at Billy Bob’s Texas. As always, he puts his own stamp on the song with this rollicking rendition worthy of any country road trip.

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Willie Nelson, “Still is Still Moving to Me”

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

When people ask me which of the songs I’ve written are my favorites, “Still is Still Moving” always comes up near the top of the list.  The band and I play it at almost every concert, and I’ve recorded it countless times, as well, so you have got to figure the song means something important to me.

Sometimes I wonder if perhaps the song is me.

Whether you look at the song from the point of view of ancient philosophies or from the modern knowledge of quantum physics, there is great motion in all stillness, and true stillness at the heart of all action.

The early Chinese philosophers referred to hits in the concept of something called wu wei, which suggests fulfilling every task with the least necessary action.  Two notes are not required when one will suffice.  Twenty words may not say something better than ten, or one.  For me, that word is stillness.

No matter how still I am, the world around me is abuzz with activity, and the world within me as well.  Modern physics tells us that the atoms in our body ” and all the particles and forces that make up those atoms ” are never at rest.  While our bodies and the world around us seem solid, that physical appearance is merely an illusion, for each of our atoms is comprised primarily of empty space.

If your life in this modern world seems to pass you by at the speed of light, perhaps you could consult Einstein, who proved that the faster we travel, the more time is compressed.  That’s right, the faster we go, the less time we have.  So what is your hurry?

This may not mean much to you, but it must be quite traumatic for the atoms.  Would you like to hear an atom joke?  I didn’t think so, but here is one anyway:

A neutron went into a bar and says, “How much for a beer?”

The bartender says, “For you, no charge.”


The Tao of Willie Nelson
by Willie Nelson, with Turk Pipkin

 

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Willie Nelson, “Living in the Promiseland”

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

 

Nora Jones’ favorite Willie Nelson songs

Monday, September 4th, 2017

www.wfuv.org
by: Kara Manning

Norah Jones might have broken into the mainstream consciousness as a jazz and pop artist, a path she followed on her most recent album, Day Breaks, but the Texas-raised musician has always been a country music aficionado at heart.

She co-founded the alt-country The Little Willies — named after Willie Nelson — nearly 15 years ago with fellow heartland music lovers Richard Julian, Jim Campilongo, Lee Alexander and Dan Rieser. On the Little Willies’ two albums, their eponymous 2006 debut and 2012’s For The Good Times, the group ebulliently covered songs by a large swath of American legends, like Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and, of course, Nelson, this week’s FUV Essentials artist.

Jones has performed with Nelson many times, in the studio on standards like “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” found on his 2009 album American Classic, or joining him live in 2010 at Farm Aid 25, singing songs like Alexander’s “Lonestar” (which appeared on Nelson’s 2002 live album, Willie Nelson & Friends – Stars & Guitars).

When FUV broadcast Willie Nelson and Family’s concert at the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in August 2015, Jones was there in the crowd, watching Nelson and his band with a broad smile on her face, reveling in his great classics. Their kinship is one of mutual admiration, humor, collaborative intuition and respect. FUV reached out to Jones to write about the recordings and songs that mean the most to her, by her friend and fellow Texan.

Norah Jones: Five Essential Willie Nelson Songs:

“Permanently Lonely,” Crazy: The Demo Sessions (2003)
This song is one of my favorites. The turn of phrase, melody, and chord changes. So beautiful and simple, yet very complex which I didn’t realize until I tried to cover it! He really cuts straight to the bone on this one.

“Funny How Time Slips Away,” VH1 Storytellers with Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson (1998)
There are so many great versions of this song but this is my favorite, just stripped down with Willie and Johnny Cash on guitar. This is also one of my favorite Willie guitar solos. As a song it’s biting, heartbreaking, and funny. It’s a good story song with a little knife-in-the-back at the end.

“Things to Remember,” The Demos Project, Vol. 1 (2003)
Great honky tonk song and vibe. And he sings so good.

“Washing the Dishes” into “Walking,” Phases and Stages (1974)
The first two songs go together so beautifully. It goes from this gorgeous jazz-tinged guitar ballad with moments of Brazil, and then the second part is a killer country song. He made some amazing concept albums and these two tracks really capture that magic.

“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” Red Headed Stranger (1975)
From my favorite album of all time — Red Headed Stranger. A classic. It shows how he makes every song his own, even the ones he didn’t write.

– Norah Jones
August 2017

More:
The Little Willies: Live Concert 2011

The Little Willies: Words and Music 2012

 

Billboard Picks Top Ten Willie Nelson songs

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

photo:  Gary Miller

www.Billboard.com

Willie Nelson. The name is six letters each for both first and last name, yet there is nothing simple about the man. In his career, he has defied – and continues to defy genres or classifications. He has recorded albums with just about every musical theme known to man since he began recording in the late 1950s. He has tipped the hat to Cole Porter and Ray Price, and recorded with artists ranging from Hank Snow to Snoop Dogg.

To dissect Nelson’s recorded legacy in a (somewhat) comprehensive manner, we decided to make this about Nelson’s greatest solo singles over the years. Artists such as Waylon, Johnny, and Julio all belong on a greatest hits list……but let’s hold that for a duet one. Here are ten of his finest moments in the solo spotlight!

10. Willie Nelson – “September Song”

The names Kurt Weill, Maxwell Anderson, and Walter Huston were not – and are not now, for that matter – known to Country audiences in 1979. And, Weill and Anderson’s composition – which Huston took to number one in 1950, and was also recorded by crooners such as Sinatra and Crosby – wouldn’t probably make many lists of “Great Willie Nelson songs.” But, the singer DID record this one for the 1978 triumph Stardust, and did climb to the Top-20 on the Country singles chart with it. And, if you heard it back then – you know that this was one of his greatest performances.

9. Willie Nelson – “Forgiving You Was Easy”

For all the success and all the awards that have come Nelson’s way over the years, the most telling sign of his greatness is just how purely simple his songs are. There wasn’t a lot of production or overblown words on this 1985 number one hit, but there didn’t need to be. The singer wrote what he felt, delivered it on record, and simply let the listener be the judge. And, that’s sometimes all you really need to do.

8.  Willie Nelson – “One in a Row”

Deciding to limit this list to just Nelson’s solo work ensured that I would be able to select at least one track from his pre-beard early days on RCA Victor. Nelson never did hit the top ten during his days on the label, which was a shame – as the singer came up with some very interesting and vital work during his several years at the label. One of his biggest Nipper-related moments came with this Top-20 hit from 1966 that allowed the singer to shine in this Nashville Sound-themed recording. Perhaps it was the dramatic element of the arrangement that made his unique vocal phrasing stand out so. This is definitely one of his most under-rated moments.

7.  Willie Nelson – “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys”

As incredible of a wordsmith as Nelson has been in his career, the casual listener might be a little bit shocked that this ode to the lifestyle of the Old West does not include Nelson’s name as a writer. Instead, that honor goes to Sharon Vaughn, who crafted this finely-tuned lyric that inspired many who grew up drawn to the exploits of Rogers, Autry, and Bonanza.

6.  Willie Nelson – “On The Road Again” 

A Honeysuckle Rose inclusion, this song serves as proof of Nelson’s love of the road – and all that it entails. There’s something about the allure of the highway and the stage that has kept the singer going from one stage to the other – for years and years.

Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson onstage at Beacon Theatre in New York City.

5. Willie Nelson – “Whiskey River”

A concert staple since the early 1970s, this is perhaps Nelson’s closest thing to a theme song that he has in his catalog. But, actually, it’s not his catalog. Fellow Texan Johnny Bush wrote and recorded an amazing version of the song prior to Nelson, but it’s the singer’s 1979 cover that fans will point to as one of the greatest stage kick-off songs in country music history.

4. Willie Nelson – “Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground”

From his Honeysuckle Rose film, this one remains one of Nelson’s greatest compositions. Walk down Nashville’s Broadway on any given night – and you will hear at least one country singer wanna-be performing this classic Willie Nelson song of heartbreak. Perhaps the singer at his most authentic and vulnerable.

3. Willie Nelson – “Always On My Mind”

Brenda Lee recorded it. Elvis Presley enjoyed a minor hit with it. But, in the hands of Nelson – one of the master song interpreters of all time – this record became one that was yielded into the Great American Songbook of the 1980s. His 1982 recording of this was an across-the-board hit for the singer, and also yielded Song of the Year trophies for writers Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher, and Mark James – all for a song that had been a decade old at the time!

2. Willie Nelson – “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”

After two decades in the business as a successful tunesmith, Nelson finally broke through to the top of the Billboard Country charts with – what else? A Fred Rose classic made famous by Roy Acuff some three decades prior! There was nothing about Nelson’s sparse recording of this chestnut – or the Red Headed Stranger album that it was selected from – that rang with commercial aplomb when it hit the market in 1975, but perhaps that’s what we love most about Willie Nelson – There is no rhyme or reason to the chorus. We simply love the chorus.

1. Willie Nelson – “Georgia On My Mind”

So, you’re on top of the musical world, as Willie Nelson’s star finally was in 1978. Chances are you are not looking to revisit musical legacies from a bygone era – but then again, Willie has always danced to his own musical beat. His decision to release the classics album Stardust – and to dust off this Hoagy Carmichael ballad was probably not the wisest conventionally, but any conversation about Willie Nelson songs has to include this one – which is best played over a stereo in the dark, with one’s favorite beverage within reaching distance.

Willie Nelson, “I Gotta Get Drunk”

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Willie Nelson and Faron Young and the story behind “Hello Walls”

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

Willie Nelson Spotify Playlist

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

Willie Nelson

www.jambase.com

Outlaw country legend Willie Nelson celebrates his 84th birthday today. Just yesterday Willie released a new studio album God’s Problem Child further adding to his already outstanding recording career. With his trusty acoustic Martin guitar “Trigger” in hand, Nelson continues to light up stages around the world

To celebrate Willie’s birthday, Saturday Stream presents a Spotify Playlist made up of a collection of career-spanning recordings featuring Nelson performing live throughout the past 50 years. The set includes solo and Willie Nelson & Family recordings, as well as many collaborations with fellow talented musicians such as Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Carole King, Wynton Marsalis, Norah Jones, Al Green, Jack Johnson, Sheryl Crow, Ben Harper, Jerry Jeff Walker, Chris Stapleton and others. There are also tracks featuring The Highwayman supergroup of Nelson alongside Cash, Waylon Jennings /strong> and Kris Kristofferson.

The 60-song playlist begins with cuts from Willie’s pre-Trigger, 1966 Country Music Concert live album that was recorded during a show at Panther Hall in Fort Worth, Texas on July 5, 1966. The career-spanning set ends with Willie leading an all-star ensemble at the 2015 Outlaw: Celebrating The Music Of Waylon Jennings concert at ACL Live At The The Moody Theater in Austin, Texas. Favorites such as “Crazy,” “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain,” “On The Road Again,” “Whiskey River,” “Uncloudy Day,” “Luckenback, Texas” and many others can be streamed in the playlist below

 

Patsy Cline sings Willie Nelson’s, “Crazy”

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Willie Nelson, “Still is Still Moving to Me”

Monday, February 6th, 2017

When people ask me which of the songs Ive written are my favorites, “Still is Still Moving” always comes up near the top of the list.  The band and I play it at almost every concert, and I’ve recorded it countless times, as well, so you have got to figure the song means something important to me.

Sometimes I wonder if perhaps the song is me.

Whether you look at the song from the point of view of ancient philosophies or from the modern knowledge of quantum physics, there is great motion in all stillness, and true stillness at the heart of all action.

The early Chinese philosophers referred to hits in the concept of something called wu wei, which suggests fulfilling every task with the least necessary action.  Two notes are not required when one will suffice.  Twenty words may not say something better than ten, or one.  For me, that word is stillness.

No matter how still I am, the world around me is abuzz with activity, and the world within me as well.  Modern physics tells us that the atoms in our body ” and all the particles and forces that make up those atoms ” are never at rest.  While our bodies and the world around us seem solid, that physical appearance is merely an illusion, for each of our atoms is comprised primarily of empty space.

If your life in this modern world seems to pass you by at the speed of light, perhaps you could consult Einstein, who proved that the faster we travel, the more time is compressed.  That’s right, the faster we go, the less time we have.  So what is your hurry?

This may not mean much to you, but it must be quite traumatic for the atoms.  Would you like to hear an atom joke?  I didn’t think so, but here is one anyway:

A neutron went into a bar and says, “How much for a beer?”

The bartender says, “For you, no charge.”

 


The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart

The Tao of Willie Nelson
by Willie Nelson, with Turk Pipkin

“Living in the Promiseland,” Willie Nelson

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

www.WideOpenCountry

When Willie Nelson received the prestigious Gershwin Prize in Washington, D.C. last year,  he sang this song. “I think this is one of the most appropriate songs that we could do for this period in America,” Nelson told an audience of politicians from both sides of the aisle. One year later, the message is truer than ever.

Originally released in 1988, “Living in the Promisedland” is about America’s vow to the world:

“Leave us your broken dreams/
We’ll give them time to mend/
There’s still a lot of love/
Living in the Promised Land.” 

Willie Nelson, “Pretty Paper”

Monday, November 28th, 2016

www.WillieNelson.com

“Still is Still Moving to Me”, by Willie Nelson

Friday, November 25th, 2016

When people ask me which of the songs Ive written are my favorites, “Still is Still Moving” always comes up near the top of the list.  The band and I play it at almost every concert, and I’ve recorded it countless times, as well, so you have got to figure the song means something important to me.

Sometimes I wonder if perhaps the song is me.

Whether you look at the song from the point of view of ancient philosophies or from the modern knowledge of quantum physics, there is great motion in all stillness, and true stillness at the heart of all action.

The early Chinese philosophers referred to hits in the concept of something called wu wei, which suggests fulfilling every task with the least necessary action.  Two notes are not required when one will suffice.  Twenty words may not say something better than ten, or one.  For me, that word is stillness.

No matter how still I am, the world around me is abuzz with activity, and the world within me as well.  Modern physics tells us that the atoms in our body ” and all the particles and forces that make up those atoms ” are never at rest.  While our bodies and the world around us seem solid, that physical appearance is merely an illusion, for each of our atoms is comprised primarily of empty space.

If your life in this modern world seems to pass you by at the speed of light, perhaps you could consult Einstein, who proved that the faster we travel, the more time is compressed.  That’s right, the faster we go, the less time we have.  So what is your hurry?

This may not mean much to you, but it must be quite traumatic for the atoms.  Would you like to hear an atom joke?  I didnt think so, but here is one anyway:

A neutron went into a bar and says, “How much for a beer?”

The bartender says, “For you, no charge.”

 


The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart

The Tao of Willie Nelson
by Willie Nelson, with Turk Pipkin

Willie Nelson, “Still is Still Moving to Me”

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Willie Nelson sings Lyndel Rhodes

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

www.today.com
by:  Alexander Zaslow

At 92 years old, Lyndel Rhodes can now add “songwriter” to her resume.

Rhodes, who lives a few hours from Nashville, recently had a song she wrote recorded by country great Willie Nelson. She’s got her son, Buddy Cannon, to thank for it.

Growing up, Rhodes loved music, and she passed that passion down to her son went on to become a music producer, working with artists like Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire and Willie Nelson.

lynbud

Lyndel Rhodes with her son, Buddy Cannon. He’s a music producer and arranged for Willie Nelson to record a song she wrote.

A few years back, Cannon was visiting his mom at her home when she showed him some songs she’d written for fun.

One, called “Little House On The Hill,” made an impression.

“[It] stuck in my head all these years, and when it came time to work on Willie Nelson’s new album, I thought it’d be something he’d like,” Cannon, 69, told TODAY

.willbudd

 

“I wanted to capture her reaction to listening to Willie sing the song for the first time, but she was very emotional,” Cannon said.

More than a million people have now watched her wiggle her feet as she sang along.

Rhodes and Nelson have never met in person.

But, in the ten years they’ve been working together, Cannon occasionally has shared with Nelson videos of his mother-son jam sessions.

This led to Rhodes receiving a special phone call from Nelson a couple years ago telling her how much he enjoys listening to her play the harmonica.

He also invited her on the road with him, saying he’d save her a bunk on the bus.

“Willie is a bigger fan of my mom’s than she is of him,” Cannon said.