“Willie Nelson Song of the Year” — Austin360 Awards 2017

Read entire list here.

www.Statesman.com
by:  Deborah Sengupta Stith and Peter Blackstock

What were the best things about Austin music in 2017? Every year about this time, we come up with answers, offering our favorite bands, records, venues and the like. But we recognize that while we strive to evaluate records on their critical merits, the process is ultimately subjective.

This year we decided to cast the net wider. We asked dozens of locals with deep knowledge of Austin’s music community to submit nominations, and then cast votes on the finalists, for our first-ever Austin360 Awards.

We’ve kept it simple in this inaugural year, with seven categories: Artist, Album, Song, Breakout Act, DJ/Dance Party, Venue and Residency. Here are the winners and finalists in each category.

SONG OF THE YEAR: WILLIE NELSON, “STILL NOT DEAD”

Here’s a case where the winning entry not only recognizes an artist’s stellar work of achievement this year, it also helps to tell what 2017 was like for them. Back in January, fans were a bit worried: First Nelson called off a string of Las Vegas shows, and then he had to cancel three California dates. At 83, was he finally maybe not able to keep going “On the Road Again”?

So we checked up on Willie when he played the San Antonio rodeo in February, and we were pleased to report that it was one of the best shows we’d ever seen him play. It included a perfect message of assurance to fans, a humorous new song he’d recently written with his producer Buddy Cannon about the rumors that have been flying for years.

“I woke up still not dead again today,” he sang. “The news said I was gone, to my dismay. Don’t bury me, I’ve got a show to play. And I woke up still not dead again today.”

In April, that song surfaced on “God’s Problem Child,” which we contended was the best album Nelson had released since the 1990s. “Still Not Dead” is a novelty song, yes, but its lighthearted message and melody offered a dose of good news and good humor that was hard to come by in 2017. — P.B.

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