Watch Alison Krauss Cover Willie Nelson’s “I Never Cared for You” on “Stephen Colbert”
by: Jim Casey
Alison Krauss celebrated the February 17 release of her new album, Windy City, by stopping by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert last night (Feb. 20) for a performance of “I Never Care for You.”
The tune, which was penned by Willie Nelson and originally recorded by him in 1964, is featured on Windy City, which is comprised of 10 covers of classic songs, including Glen Campbell’s “Gentle on My Mind,” Brenda Lee’s “Losing You,” Eddy Arnold’s “You Don’t Know Me” and more.
The new album released on Feb. 17 and features 10 classic songs that Alison hand selected with her producer Buddy Cannon (Kenny Chesney, George Jones), including the lead track, Brenda Lee’s “Losing You.”
“Usually it’s just all songs first,” Alison said in a statement. “It was the first time I’d ever not had songs picked out, and it was just about a person.” That person was veteran Nashville producer Buddy Cannon. “That was absolutely the moment,” she says of the moment she stepped in the studio with Buddy to sing “Make The World Go Away” for Jamey Johnson’s 2012 album, Living For A Song. “Wow! Buddy really makes me want to do a good job.”
As Alison and Buddy worked in the studio to create Windy City— the first new music since 2011’s Paper Airplane—they decided to record songs like “Gentle On My Mind” by Glen Campbell; “You Don’t Know Me” by Eddy Arnold; Willie Nelson’s “I Never Cared For You” and Brenda Lee’s “All Alone Am I,” that pull at the heartstrings.
“It’s almost like you didn’t know it was sad, because it doesn’t sound weak.” Alison says of the album. “It doesn’t have a pitiful part to it, where so many sad songs do. But these don’t. And I love that about it. I love that there’s strength underneath there. That whatever those stories are, they didn’t destroy. That that person made it right through it. I love that.
“It was really fun. I had a great time doing it. And to really have the mindset of seeing something through someone else’s eyes was a blast,” said Alison.
Alison has released 13 albums, including her most recent 2011’s Paper Airplane and has sold more than 12 million records to date. With 27 wins, she is the most awarded female artist in GRAMMY history.
“Pretty Paper” is a song written by country music singer-songwriter Willie Nelson in 1963. After being signed to Monument Records, Nelson played the song for producer Fred Foster. Foster pitched the song to Roy Orbison, who turned it into a hit. Nelson recorded his own version of the song in November 1964.
Written by Willie Nelson, the song tells the story of a street vendor who, during the holiday season, sells pencils and paper on the streets. In October 1963, while walking in his farm in Ridgetop, Tennessee, Nelson was inspired to write the song after he remembered a man he often saw while he lived in Fort Worth, Texas. The man had his legs amputated and moved with rollers, selling paper and pencils in front of Leonard’s Department Store. To attract the attention of the people, the man announced, “Pretty paper! Pretty paper!”
In 2013, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram identified the man as Frankie Brierton, of Santo, Texas. Brierton refused to use a wheelchair, choosing instead to crawl, as he learned to move while growing up after his legs were affected by a spinal disorder. Brierton sold pencils in Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston.
Willie Nelson, along with David Ruiz, incorporated the song’s story into a book.
Blue Rider Press
Pretty Paper: A Christmas Tale
By Willie Nelson with David Ritz
Blue Rider Press, 304 pp., $23
Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue
Wrap your presents to your darling from you
Pretty pencils to write “I love you”
Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue
The story behind this young boy’s Willie Nelson cover is a truly inspiring one. Logan Blade is autistic, and he doesn’t speak — but boy can he sing!
Blade took the stage recently to cover Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” from the legend’s Redheaded Stranger album.The song was originally recorded by Roy Acuff, but once you see Blade perform it, you’ll know he was, without a doubt, channeling Nelson. Everything down to the inflection in his voice is reminiscent of the braided country icon.
According to Blade’s Facebook page, he was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old. He doesn’t speak often, but he was clearly blessed with the gift of song. It’s incredible to watch his on stage presence in the video above (and in several of his other covers) because, despite his lack of conversational skills, he has no fear on stage. He’s confident and poised and genuinely seems to enjoy singing songs he loves.
Nelson heard the cover and was also impressed, even sharing it on his own Facebook page. “Logan is Autistic. He has little to no speech. But he can sing Willie Nelson’s music. Great job Logan!” the singer wrote with the video before signing it with “love.”
Watch the video of Logan Blade covering Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” above.
Roger Hegyi of Laguna Niguel is a musician and Willie Nelson impersonator. He was recently featured in a Volkswagen commercial as Willie Nelson. Friday, October 14, 2016. (Photo by Nick Agro, Orange County Register/SCNG)
As the afternoon sunshine reflects off the Pacific Ocean, a man resembling Willie Nelson punches the gas pedal of his 1969 Volkswagen Beetle and grins as he zooms past another car.
The scene lasts but a few seconds, but as Laguna Niguel musician Roger Hegyi recalls, it took hours to get ample footage for the commercial shoot on Pacific Coast Highway.
A lifelong musician and frontman for the “True Willie” tribute band, Hegyi appeared as Nelson’s doppelganger last month in a national commercial for Volkswagen. Since his brief cameo in the 30-second commercial, Hegyi has received hundreds of calls, emails and texts from friends expressing support.
“I love the response,” he said, “hopefully they’re selling some cars from it.”
With a red bandana covering the top of his braided brown hair, Hegyi reminisced on his life in music and recent appearance on television in his living room. A piano and two acoustic guitars sat by his side.
As Heygi remembered, he got the call to film the commercial in August. Volkswagen had paid to use Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” he said, and was looking for someone on the West Coast who could fit in the commercial.
He then went up to Point Mugu near Pacific Coast Highway and spent hours filming his passing scene in a yellow Beetle, which felt familiar since he learned to drive a stick shift with the same model as a teen.
“It was just another thing that happened to me that was meant to be,” he said.
Hegyi’s television appearance has capped a wave of good fortune. For more than three years, Hegyi has toured as a singer and guitarist with the True Willie tribute band playing before hundreds and sometimes thousands of fans who often believe he looks and sounds just like the 83-year-old Texas musician who wrote classics like “Crazy,” “Hello Walls” and “Funny How Time Slips Away.”
As the 50th annual CMA Awards looms ever nearer, even more videos fitting the Forever Country theme are beginning to appear. The latest partners Luke Bryan with Little Big Town, performing a mashup of two classic country songs that nods in style and approach to the ambitious “Forever Country” project that was released in September.
Standing with their backs to Bryan, Little Big Town starts the brief clip off with Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” harmonizing through part of the song’s familiar chorus. Without changing key or tempo, Bryan adds in a couple lines of multiple Entertainer of the Year-winning group Alabama’s “Mountain Music.” They all meet back up at the end to complete the chorus of Nelson’s song together.
A similar video featuring Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert also made its first appearance online. Urban and Lambert stand back to back, while Urban sings “Always on My Mind” as Nelson recorded it, into which Lambert interjects Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” – written, of course, by Nelson – before they sing out the last lines in harmony.
Lambert, Urban, Bryan and Little Big Town are all slated to perform at the 50th annual CMA Awards, along with Dierks Bentley, Maren Morris, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, Kelsea Ballerini, Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, Tim McGraw and Kacey Musgraves. The event will be hosted once again by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood and broadcast live from Nashville on ABC Wednesday, November 2nd at 8 p.m. ET.
Billy Ray Cyrus performs “Stop Picking On Willie” with Willie Nelson live at the Farm Aid concert in Tinley Park, Illinois on October 4, 1997.
By Beville Dunkerley
“Can you believe they’ve never built a statue for his dad here?” Billy Ray Cyrus asks, after a compliment on the old Hank Williams Jr. T-shirt he’s wearing underneath a weathered leather jacket. “Let’s start a movement!”
He’s only half-kidding. Cyrus has immeasurable reverence for the country music legends who paved the way for musicians like him. One of his most prized possessions is a handwritten letter from Johnny Cash, and he can tell story after story about greats such as Waylon Jennings, Dolly Parton and Carl Perkins visiting his Tennessee home to make music with him and even mentor his kids. (Jennings himself taught Cyrus’ now-uber-famous daughter, Miley how to play “Good Hearted Woman” on the guitar.)
Plotting a new album while also filming his CMT sitcom, Still the King, Cyrus was determined to make collection honoring his heroes, filling it with cover songs and titling it Under the Influence. But along with the fact that there are a few other albums with that same title — including one from fellow country superstar Alan Jackson — came one big thing getting in the way of making a full covers album: his songwriting. Cyrus found himself in a creative headspace that reflected his influences like never before.
“What I was writing from was my real life,” he tells Rolling Stone Country. “The music kinda runs a thin line between Still the King and [my character] Burnin Vernon and Billy Ray Cyrus and the little boy who [was bullied] at school meets this guy who grew into an old man who saw all these things that my life has been: Twilight Zone meets country music meets Hollywood. It’s finding that thin line between reality and the music.”
Thus the new title of his album out today (September 9th), Thin Line. The title track came to Cyrus after a meeting with CMT about his wildly irreverent show. Executives asked him to describe the plot in one sentence, and his answer was, “Well, it’s like a thin line between Elvis and Jesus.” He picked up a guitar that same night and cranked out lyrics about the thin lines between both serious and comical things: “It’s a thin line between hate and love, the gates of hell and heaven above,” he sings, balancing that out with the more lighthearted, “It’s a thin line, between Willie and the law.”
That’s one of several tips of the hat to Willie Nelson on the LP, as Cyrus covers “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys,” followed by an original tune he wrote back in 1989, “Stop Pickin’ on Willie” – a longtime favorite in his live shows but never recorded until now.
“In combining this album with tributes to my heroes and the new songs, it was me trying to make a concept record. To me, the model of a concept record is Red Headed Stranger, by Willie Nelson,” Cyrus explains. “I always wanted an album that went from song one to song 10 and told a story. As the pieces started falling in to place, the sequence started making sense. It’s all one circle.
“In , I did Farm Aid and I went on Willie’s bus – which is an adventure all to itself,” Cyrus continues, “and somewhere through the fog, I got my guitar out and sang ‘Stop Pickin’ on Willie.’ He said, ‘You mind if I come out and play that with you?’ I said, ‘That would be the greatest thing in the world.’ So recording this tribute to Willie is going full circle.”
Other cover songs on the album include a brooding take on Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” a Joe Perry-assisted interpretation of Don Williams’ “Tulsa Time,” and stripped-down, reverent renditions of Merle Haggard’s “Going Where the Lonely Go” and Waylon Jennings’ “I’ve Always Been Crazy.” Jennings’ son, Shooter joins Cyrus on the tribute to his father, and also on “Killing the Blues,” a cover of the John Prine classic. The Shooter-Cyrus pairing was the younger musician’s idea, and Cyrus knew instantly the perfect song.
“Waylon was at my kitchen table and had a vision,” he recalls of one of many chats he had with the late legend. “He said, ‘I had this crazy dream: You recorded ‘I’ve always been crazy, but it kept me from going insane.’ Well, I wanted to record it right then, but I was at this label. . . and they didn’t let me. So, Waylon ended up joining me [instead] on a song called ‘We the People.’ Time went by and then we lost Waylon. That’s one of the things that saddened me the most. . . I kept thinking, ‘Some day I’ve gotta record that song, because he said he saw me doing it.’ Years go by and Shooter contacts me and says, ‘I wanna do a record on you.’ So I told him what his dad said.”
Joining Jennings and Aerosmith legend Perry on Thin Line’s long list of special guests is Shelby Lynne, on the title track and on Johnny Cash’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down” (written by Kristofferson). Lee Roy Parnell is heard on the Jennings tribute. Rock gods Bryan Adams and Glenn Hughes are featured on the first single, “Hey Elvis” — a hit for Adams back in 1997 and the perfect match for Cyrus’ album, given its lyrics about how new music will never measure up to that of the King. Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Kenley Shea Holm lends vocals to “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” Cyrus’ son, Braison makes his debut paying tribute to a hero he shares with his dad, Merle Haggard, on “Going Where the Lonely Go.” And closing the album is an original track written by Cyrus with daughter Miley — and something he calls more of a prayer than a song. “Angels Protect This Home” was born of social and environmental issues weighing on both their hearts.
No matter if it’s a family-made original or interpretation of a classic, the songs on Thin Line bleed together into one traditional concept album – what Cyrus was going for in the first place.
“It all boils down to three words: keep it real,” he says of his strategy. “All the greats — Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, they all said the same thing: ‘Keep it real, and make your music because it’s your truth.’ I thank God I had friends around me to share that wisdom.”