Willie Nelson, “It’s Been Rough and Rocky Travellin’ (The earliest Willie Nelson 1954-1963)

I gave this 3-CD boxed set to myself as a birthday gift a few years ago.  The Bear Family really know how to put together a quality product.  In addition to the 77 cuts included, and many early, rare versions of his songs, you get a 68-page booklet with lots of information and wonderful pictures of Willie. 

This is on the back of the boxed set:  

“It’s been rough and rocky travelin’… and the journey starts here.  No one in American music history has been more prolific than Willie Nelson, but these incredibly rare recordings come from the time when he had to beg people to record him.  It’s a story of small labels, local hits, and beer hall nights that took him from central Texas to Washington state, back to Texas and on to Nashville in 1960.  “Nashville was where the store was,” he wrote later.  “If I had anything to sell, it must be taken to the store.”

“This 3-CD set includes all his commercial recordings made betewen 1954 and 1963.  Willie’s tour of the local labels began with Texas’ Sarg Records in 1954 and then his own Willie Nelson Records in 1957 (recently discovered out-takes from that self-produced session are included here for the first time).  Back in Texas in 1959, Willie recorded for ‘D’Records, and all of his ‘D’recordings are here, together with his rare first version of Nite Life, originally issued on the Rx label.  Available alternative takes have been included.

Willie moved to Nashville as a songwriter, and after scoring several successes as a writer, he was signed to Liberty Records.  He cracked the country Top 10 with Willingly and Touch Me in 1962.  All of the Liberty recordings are here too, including Willie’s original versions of Crazy, Funny How Time Slips Away, Hello Walls, Mister Record Man, and Three Days.  He has performed these songs throughout the six decades of his career, but here’s how he originally did them.

This set is an essentiial companion to NASHVILLE WAS THE ROUGHEST, an eight-CD boxed set of Willie’s Momument and RCA Victor recordings that picks up where this leaves off.  Together, they capture eighteen years of one of the most incredible careers in all Amerian music.

This set also includes a 68-page book by Rick Kienzle and a complete discography by Richard Weize, as well as many unpublished photos and illustrations.”

Bear Family Records
P. O. Box 1154
D-27727 Hambergen Germany

1. When I’ve Sang My Last Hillbilly Song
2. Storm Has Just Begun
3. No Place For Me
4. Lumberjack
5. Man With The Blues
6. Storm Has Just Begun
7. What A Way To Live
8. Misery Mansion
9. Nite Life
10. Rainy Day Blues
11. No Place For Me (alternate version 1)
12. No Place For Me (alternate version 2)
13. No Place For Me (alternate version 4)
14. Lumberjack (alternate version 1)
15. Lumberjack (alternate version 2)
16. Nite Life (alternate version)
17. Rainy Day Blues (alternate version)
18. Attention Songwriters (promotional announcement)
19. Part Where I Cry
20. Touch Me
21. Mr Record Man
22. Go Away
23. Waiting Time
24. Where My House Lives
25. Country Willie
26. How Long Is Forever (version 1)
27. Three Days
28. Darkness On The Face Of The Earth
29. One Step Beyond
30. Undo The Right
31. Crazy
32. Funny How Time Slips Away
33. Hello Walls
34. Wake Me When It’s Over
35. Our Chain Of Love – Nelson, Willie & Shirley Collie
36. Willingly – Nelson, Willie & Shirley Collie
37. You Dream About Me – Nelson, Willie & Shirley Collie
38. There Goes A Man
39. There’s Gonna Be Love In My House Tonight
40. You Wouldn’t Even Cross The Street
41. How Long Is Forever (version 2)
42. Half A Man
43. Take My Word (version 1)
44. Last Letter
45. Home Motel
46. Take My Word (version 2)
47. Right Or Wrong
48. Roly Poly
49. Let Me Talk To You
50. Things I Might’ve Been
51. Way You See Me
52. Columbus Stockade Blues (version 1) – Nelson, Willie & Shirley Collie
53. Together – Nelson, Willie & Shirley Collie
54. You Took My Happy Away (version 1)
55. Second Fiddle
56. Opportrunity To Cry
57. Lonely Little Mansion
58. You Took My Happy Away (version 2)
59. Feed It A Memory
60. I Hope So
61. This Cold War With You
62. Blue Must Be The Colour Of The Blues
63. Seasons Of My Heart
64. At The Bottom
65. I’ll Walk Alone
66. River Boy
67. Am I Blue
68. Take Me As I Am (Or Let Me Go)
69. There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight
70. Tomorrow Night
71. Columbus Stockade Blues (version 2) – Nelson, Willie & Shirley Collie
72. Columbus Stockade Blues (version 3) – Nelson, Willie & Shirley Collie
73. You Wouldn’t Even Cross The Street (overdubbed)
75. River Boy (overdubbed)
76. At The Bottom (overdubbed)
77. I Hope So (overdubbed)

Leave a Reply