Willie Nelson’s new album in tribute to Ray Price, “For the Good Times”

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by:  Dan Ferguson

Into his 80s, Willie Nelson continues to crank out the albums in rather prolific fashion. His latest is a tribute his friend and long-ago bandleader, Ray Price. It was Price who in 1960 would give the young songwriter Nelson a job playing bass in his Cherokee Cowboys band replacing Donny Young, later known as Johnny Paycheck, of all people. Whereas the stint was short-lived, their friendship would endure and it would be Nelson who would pen one of Price’s biggest hits, “Night Life.” .

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On his new tribute album to the late country music hall of famer Ray Price, Willie Nelson proves in part that you can go home again. Home, in this case, is one of the early stops in Nelson’s lengthy career as a member of Price’s Cherokee Cowboys band playing bass. That was 1960 and whereas the stay was brief, the two remained close friends right up until Price’s passing in 2013. With For the Good Times, Nelson pays homage to his one-time boss covering a dozen Price classics including two written by Nelson himself (“Night Life” and “I’m Still Not Over You”). Few country music artists can say they were the “architect” of a sound. Price is one of the very few thanks to the creation of that “Ray Price beat,” a 4/4 shuffle that filled many a dance floor and has endured to this day. That sound is in fine hands in both the voice of Nelson and his stellar backing from a collection of Nashville studio aces, not to mention all-star band The Time Jumpers. All together, they deliver the goods on C&W nuggets like “Heartaches by the Numbers” and “Crazy Arms.” On the flips side, there was Price the balladeer and Nelson covers that side of the equation in equally fine fashion on such classics as “Make the World Go Away” and Kris Kristofferson’s “For the Good Times.” In all, For the Good Times is a worthy tribute to a most worthwhile artist. Visit www.legacyrecordings.com.

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