Rodney Crowell talks about Willie Nelson (Texas Monthly One by Willie)

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by: John Spong

Rodney Crowell is one of the rare singer-songwriters to have kept one foot in the coffeehouses while placing the other squarely at the top of the charts as an artist. He’s a Houston-born troubadour who had a literal seat at the table when Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt revolutionized country songwriting in the early seventies (see James Szalapski’s landmark music documentary, Heartworn Highways). But he also happens to have been the first act ever to earn five number-one country singles off of one album, 1988’s Diamonds & Dirt.

On this week’s One by Willie, Crowell dissects Willie’s rip-roaring meditation on self-medication, “Bloody Mary Morning.” It’s a song that barely dented the country top twenty when it was released as a single in 1974, but as the lead track on side two of that year’s Phases and Stages—the album many Willie fans argue is his best—it went on to become a showstopper in his live sets and an all-time country classic. And it prompts thoughts from Crowell on nasty hangovers, going to Willie shows as a high-school kid in the mid-sixties, and that time in the late seventies when he showed up for his first recording session with Willie in Bogalusa, Louisiana . . . only to discover a red Camaro doing doughnuts in a field next to the studio. And you will not guess who was driving.

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