Willie Nelson and Ray Charles

Country Song Roundup
by Elianne Halbersberg

Rhino Home Video released the Willie Nelson Special With Special Guest Ray Charles, filmed before a live audience at the Austin Opera House on May 18, 1984.  Talk about a gem plucked form the vaults.  Fifteen years later, the songs are timeless, and the Nelson charm simply transcends the ages.  In fact, he’s so personable that sometimes it’s easy to forget that you’re watching a video tape.

He and the legendary Ray Charles perform five songs together:  ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You,’ ‘ Seven Spanish Angels,’ ‘Angel Eyes,’ ‘ Georgia,’ ‘Mountain Dew,’ and there are also some endearing behind the scenes glimpses of what when on during rehearsals for this outstanding show.  Charles, a spectacular blues man and entertainer, is a perfect match for Nelson’s dry wit and musical agility.  Their voices weave together beautifully and there’s a chemistry when they perform side by side that is simply beyond words.

There is also a segment where Nelson and his band perform some of his greatest hits:  ‘On the Road Again,’ ‘Always On My Mind,’ ‘To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before,’ ‘Without a Song,’ and ‘Whiskey River,’ plus, he is joined at various moments by jazz guitarist Jackie King, who also accompanies him on two swing classic ‘There Will Never Be Another You’ and ‘My Window Faces South.’  Another special treat comes toward the end of the tape, when the camera crew visits Nelson’s hometown of Abbott, Texas — population 349 — where he spent the first 20 years of his life.  There are comments form citizens, schoolmates and one of Nelson’s teachers, W.B. Sheppard.

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