Willie Nelson in Utah (2/28/07) (Review)

Always on My Mind

By: Skye Osborn Willie Nelson walked unpretentiously onto the stage at Burns Arena Feb. 20. The full house surged to its feet in clapping before Nelson made it to the microphone.    

Folks were there to spend a joyful couple of hours with a man who’d seen them through good and bad times with music that touched their souls. The only criticism heard was that two hours were just not enough. Once again Nelson had delivered.

The “family” of musicians that backed Nelson is so skilled, they played their instruments as though seeking (and finding) new parameters for each. This was a band so tightly cohesive, it was difficult to figure out which instrument was playing what. However, the results were spectacular.

Many of the lyrics were filled with tenderness and humility, endearing both the true fans and the not-really-a-fan-but-better-go-to-keep-the-spouses-happy in attendance. Those lyrics were a part of the more than 2,500 songs Nelson has copyrighted.

The words are the poetry of a life. Like Nelson’s, our lives haven’t always been easy. However, you can’t help but be glad he’s had all the experiences that have driven his talent to write songs that have helped so many make it through one more day.

Willie Nelson? some might ask.  I don’t like country, they may say. But a whole lot of other musical artists have found their fame with songs conceived by Willie.

While all of Nelson’s musicians were magnificent, one turned humble harmonicas into a depth that could only be described as a coming from a master musician. Mickey Raphael made his instruments wail with the whine of a bagpipe, the full sounds of a Cathedral organ and the honky-tonk, punk rock of an electronic keyboard.

Raphael has been busy playing music with groups other than Willie Nelson and Family. Playing since he was very young, he has performed across the spectrum with groups such as Motley Crew, Elton John, and Emily Harris. He also has a CD of his own released in 2000.
For Veronica Thomas, a retired USAF veteran and local loan consultant, seeing Willie Nelson live in concert was her opportunity to check off another item on her list of things to do in her life.

“Growing up in Texas,” Thomas said, “there were three kinds of music – gospel, country and blues. And Willie had them all.”

And Nelson’s St. George concert did have all three. Also thrown in were a few bits of rock and roll, and several complex bits not readily definable by genre as well. Certainly evident was a musician’s love of making music. For the audience, they certainly had the honor of hearing Nelson sharing a lifetime of his work.

Nelson isn’t just for the older generations. The audience included all but the very youngest. One youngster, 8 years old or so, was singing along and dancing back and forth in his chair as though he’d heard many a Nelson song and will always be a fan.
Lyrics flowed in a cadence of comfort, sympathy, and the outright joy of life:
Come lay down by my side … Always on my mind … On the road again … Help me make it through the night … If you’ve got the money, honey, I’ve got the time … I’d rather see you up than down.

Nelson doesn’t just make music; he and his band play with it, too. When music reaches in to touch your heart, the body and feet often have to follow along. Seats were abandoned. Arms and bodies swayed and feet were doing a bit of stomping, strutting and shuffling. A lively group in one corner was dancing up a storm.

Near the end of the show, Nelson sang a song by Kris Kristofferson, with the audience standing, shouting and clapping. The words, which left tears on more than one cheek, were, “I am so glad I was close to you for a moment of forever.”
Thanks Willie. We’re glad too.


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