Willie Nelson Interview with Sister Bobbie Nelson

(photo by Todd V. Wolfson)

This is the transcript of Part one of Willie Nelson’s interview with his sister Bobbie Nelson, at the Pedernales Recording Studio, in Texas.   The interviews are available for viewing on Youtube, and I posted them here at http://stillisstillmoving.com/?p=2732 


“Thank you very much. How y’all doing? Beginning to feel a little freer already, aren’t you? This is little sister playing the piano. And she wants to play down yonder for you. And by the way she’s got a new album coming out. In September. It’s called Audiobiography. Isn’t that clever? Little Sister, Down Yonder”

— Willie Nelson

WN: All right, we’re here in the studio, at the Pedernales Recording Studio, with sister Bobbie and her beautiful. — how do you pronounce that?

BN: I call it Bösendorf.

WN: Isn’t that a beauty?

BN: I love this piano.

WN: How old is that piano?

BN: Well you got this in the ‘70’s, I believe. It was after we recorded the Red Headed Stranger album. We became familiar with a it Bösendorf piano. And you bought this piano when the studio was first built.

WN:: That’s right. Do you remember the first song we did on it?

BN: Well, we would have done,. Well we didn’t do the Red Headed Stranger on it.

So, Tougher Than Leather, maybe? I know we had it then.

WN: I think we did a gospel, because it was the first song. No, that was when we opened the studio.

BN: Yes. When we opened the studio.

WN: When we opened the studio we did a gospel album. I don’t think we had this piano then.

BN: Yes, we did. Ever since we’ve had this studio, then we did have it.

WN: This is the one that Chips Moman, Larry Greenhill, and those guys?

BN: Yes, this is the only piano we’ve had here.

WN: Well, is the piano that you recorded all the music on for the new cd?

BN: It is, and all of our gospel music. And the new cd.

WN: Can we talk about the new cd?

BN: Yes we may. I’d love to talk about it.

WN: And the title is, Audiobiography.

BN: Audiobiography.

WN: Audiobiography. And what does that say?

BN: That is the way I thought I could best express my autobiography. To write the story of our lives would be best done, I think, with music.

WN: Who were some of the names of some of the musicians, singers that influenced you?

BN: Well, our first recollection would have been in the church, of course, with gospel music, like Stamps Brothers Quartet. But then when we got our radio, we’d listen to all the stations we could get on the radio. We’d listen a lot to the country music, the Grand Ole Opry. And I can’t remember exactly, was it “Louisiana Hay Ride?

WN: Louisiana Hayride, from Shreveport. We listened to that. And the WLS Barn Dance from Chicago.

BN: Yes

WN: We also listen to those border stations.

BN: border stations. We listened to Del Rio.

WN: Paul Kellinger, Uncle Hank Craig. And they had music that just blasted out all over. I guess they were the first powerful radio stations. And because they were in Mexico, they had no restrictions so they could be as powerful as they wanted to be.

WN: And Leo Daniels. The Light Cristol boys.

WN: Bob Wills. Milton Brown. Leon Payne.

BN Roy Acuff.

WN: Roy Acuff. Louis Armstrong. Ray Charles.

BN: Freddy Slack.

WN: What was that song by Freddy Slack?

BN: Down the Road Apiece

WN: Down the Road Apiece. Some of the songs on the cd, Back to Earth, well that’s one…

BN: That’s a beautiful song that you have written recently.
WN: Yeah, and I’m glad you put that on there on your cd. I appreciate it.

BN: I love that.

WN: And ‘Boogie Woogie.” tell be about that one. Is that the name of the song?

BN: It’s Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie. And it was recorded by Tommy Dorsey. And that’s where we learned it, from the radio. And then I bought music to it. And remember, our grandmother wasn’t really wild about me playing that old boogie woogie. So I loved it so much, I really, that was my first rebellion, I suppose, was to learn to play boogie woogie.

WN: Well, one of the remain one was Tommy Dorsey. Who were some of the great boogie piano players?

BN: House of Blue Light. (Albert Almans) Pete Johnson. The Death Ray Boogie was written by Pete Johnson.

WN: Death Ray Boogie. That’s a great one. Is it on here?

BN: Yes it is, Pete Johnson did that.

WN: And Crazy is on here. So, we know the history of that.

BN: We do know the history of Crazy.

WN: So we got Back to Earth, Boogie Woogie, Crazy, Death Ray Boogie, Stardust.

BN: Stardust. That was like a new era for us when we started listening to the big radio. and we could get the radio stations as far away as Dallas that played such gorgeous music.

That’s when we listened to that — Stardust, Laura and Deep Purple. And that was the era they came from.

WN: 12th Street Rag

BN: 12th Street Rag. We learned that with our first band, when Bud had our….

WN: Where did you learn that song from, who played that?

BN: Del woods is where I learned Down Yonder from.

WN: Now, how do you pronounce that one?

BN: Sabor a Mi. That’s my newest love affair, is with that song. You remember, if you will, when I first heard it, I was so in love with the song. I asked you to pull it up on the computer and I listened to it by a different artist. Because that was one song that I really wasn’t real familiar with. It’s a beautiful Latin song and I love Latin music.

WN: It’s beautiful song.

WN: And Down Yonder. You say you learned that from Del Woods?

BN: Del Wood. And we’ve played that all of our lives.

WN: What year? That had to have been the from ‘40’s, I guess.

BN: That had to have been as early as the ‘40’s

That’s our little sister Bobbie. Stand up, take a bow, take something off, turn a flip. Some times she does all that. Sometimes none of that.— Willie Nelson 


[Sorry, I know some of the names are wrong; I spelled them phonetically. — LL 

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