Willie Nelson – Yesterday´s Wine (1971)

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Willie Hugh Nelson (born April 29, 1933) is an American country musician. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie (1973), combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger (1975) and Stardust (1978), made Nelson one of the most recognized artists in country music. He was one of the main figures of outlaw country, a subgenre of country music that developed in the late 1960s as a reaction to the conservative restrictions of the Nashville sound. Nelson has acted in over 30 films, co-authored several books, and has been involved in activism for the use of biofuels and the legalization of marijuana.

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Born during the Great Depression and raised by his grandparents, Nelson wrote his first song at age seven and joined his first band at ten. During high school, he toured locally with the Bohemian Polka as their lead singer and guitar player. After graduating from high school in 1950, he joined the U.S. Air Force but was later discharged due to back problems. After his return, Nelson attended Baylor University for two years but dropped out because he was succeeding in music. He worked as a disc jockey at radio stations in his native Texas, and in several radio stations in the Pacific Northwest, all the while working as a singer and songwriter throughout the late 1950s. During that time, he wrote songs that would become country standards, including “Funny How Time Slips Away”, “Hello Walls”, “Pretty Paper”, and “Crazy”. In 1960 he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and later signed a publishing contract with Pamper Music which allowed him to join Ray Price’s band as a bassist. In 1962, he recorded his first album, …And Then I Wrote. Due to this success, Nelson signed in 1964 with RCA Victor and joined the Grand Ole Opry the following year. After mid-chart hits in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, Nelson grew weary of the corporate Nashville music scene, and in 1972 he moved to Austin, Texas. The ongoing music scene of Austin motivated Nelson to return to performing, appearing frequently at the Armadillo World Headquarters.

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In 1973, after signing with Atlantic Records, Nelson turned to outlaw country, including albums such as Shotgun Willie and Phases and Stages. In 1975, he switched to Columbia Records, where he recorded the critically acclaimed album Red Headed Stranger. The same year, he recorded another outlaw country album, Wanted! The Outlaws, along with Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser. During the mid-1980s, while creating hit albums like Honeysuckle Rose and recording hit songs like “On the Road Again”, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”, and “Pancho and Lefty”, he joined the country supergroup The Highwaymen, along with fellow singers Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson. In 1985, he helped organize the first Farm Aid concert to benefit American farmers; the concerts have been held annually ever since and Nelson has been a fixture, appearing at every one.

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In 1990, Nelson’s assets were seized by the Internal Revenue Service, which claimed that he owed $32 million. The difficulty of paying his outstanding debt was aggravated by weak investments he had made during the 1980s. In 1992, Nelson released The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?; the profits of the double album—destined to the IRS—and the auction of Nelson’s assets cleared his debt. During the 1990s and 2000s, Nelson continued touring extensively, and released albums every year. Reviews ranged from positive to mixed. He explored genres such as reggae, blues, jazz, and folk.

Nelson made his first movie appearance in the 1979 film The Electric Horseman, followed by other appearances in movies and on television. Nelson is a major liberal activist and the co-chair of the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), which is in favor of marijuana legalization. On the environmental front, Nelson owns the biodiesel brand Willie Nelson Biodiesel, whose product is made from vegetable oil. Nelson is also the honorary chairman of the advisory board of the Texas Music Project, the official music charity of the state of Texas.

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Yesterday’s Wine is the thirteenth studio album and a concept album by country singer Willie Nelson. Nelson had been recording for RCA Victor since the early 1960s, and had no significant hits. By 1970, his recordings had reached mid-chart positions. Nelson lost the money from his song-writing royalties by financing unsuccessful concert tours that were generally unprofitable. In addition to problems with his music career, Nelson had problems in his personal life. He had divorced his wife, Shirley Collie, and his Tennessee ranch had been destroyed by a fire.

After moving to a new home in Bandera, Texas, Nelson was called by RCA producer Felton Jarvis about the upcoming scheduled recording sessions. At the time, Nelson had not written any new material. He returned to Nashville, where he wrote new songs to use with others from his old repertoire. These new concept songs were recorded at the RCA studio in Nashville in just two days.

Considered one of the first concept albums in Country music, Yesterday’s Wine is the story of the “Imperfect Man”, from the moment he is born to the day of his death. RCA originally released the singles “Yesterday’s Wine” and “Me and Paul”. The former peaked at number 62 in Billboard’s Hot Country Singles. The album failed to reach the charts, and a frustrated Nelson decided to temporarily retire from music, while still under contract to RCA Records. Later with his musical style revitalized, he returned to music in 1972.

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By the fall of 1964, Nelson had moved from Monument Records to RCA Victor, under the leadership of Chet Atkins, signing a contract for US $10,000 per year. During his first few years at RCA Victor, Nelson had no significant hits, but from November 1966 through March 1969 his singles reached the top 25 consistently: “One In a Row” (number 19, 1966), “The Party’s Over” (number 24 during a 16-week chart run in 1967), and his cover of Morecambe & Wise’s “Bring Me Sunshine” (number 13, March 1969).[2] Up to 1970, Nelson had no major success. His royalties were invested in tours that did not produce significant profits. In addition to the problems in his career, Nelson divorced Shirley Collie in 1970. In December, his ranch in Ridgetop, Tennessee burned down. He interpreted the incident as a signal for a change. He moved to a ranch near Bandera, Texas and married Connie Koepke.[3] In early 1971 his single “I’m a Memory” reached the top 30. Felton Jarvis contacted Nelson for the recording of his next album.

Nelson had not written any material for the sessions by the time he arrived in Nashville in April 1971. While living in the new ranch, Nelson read the Bible, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, the works of Edgar Cayce and Episcopal priest A.A Taliaferro’s work. Inspired by his readings, Nelson decided to work in new material. On May 1–2, he wrote nine songs, combining new ones with previous material from his repertoire, such as “Family Bible”, to create the concept for the album. He recorded Yesterday’s Wine in four sessions, backed by David Zettner and the studio session players, beginning with two sessions on May 3 and finishing with the last two on May 4.

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In his 2015 autobiography, Nelson reminisced about this turbulent time in his life: “I looked up and simply began asking questions. Rather than keep those questions to myself, I put them into songs. The songs became my own particular prayers, my own personal reflections. I strung those prayers and reflections together in a loose-fitting suite of songs. Music critics were throwing around the term “concept album”…I guess you could say that this new notion of mine came together as a concept album. Rather than try to write a bunch of hit singles, I simply followed the natural path taken by my mind”. According to Nelson’s biographer, Joe Nick Patoski, the new material portrayed “an idea that was so far-out that when it came time to record in early May 1971 producer Felton Jarvis had no choice but to let the tapes roll”.

The album describes the life of a man, called “The Imperfect Man”, from the beginning to the day of his death.[4][9] The story begins with a dialog between two characters. The first asks the other “You do know why you’re here?”, and the second replies: “Yes, there’s great confusion on earth, and the power that is has concluded the following: Perfect man has visited earth already and His voice was heard; The voice of imperfect man must now be made manifest; and I have been selected as the most likely candidate.” This statement is followed by “Where’s the Show” and “Let Me Be a Man”. In the medley, Nelson depicts the birth of the character, who implores God to become a man. The song is followed by “In God’s Eyes”, depicting the character learning to act as a good Samaritan. In “Family Bible”, the character describes his memories of and nostalgia for his childhood, the times with his family and the reading of the family Bible. “It’s Not for Me to Understand” depicts the character praying, after watching a blind child listening to other children playing and finding himself unable to understand why God allowed that to happen. God replies to the Imperfect Man, “It’s not for you to reason why, you too are blind without my eyes, so question not what I command”. In the last stanza, the character now expresses his fear of the Lord and his reluctance to question the unfairness of the world again. The medley “These Are Difficult Times / Remember the Good Times”, describes the character’s bad times and his recovery by remembering the good times. “Summer of Roses” depicts the character falling in love and in the prime of his life. It is followed by the anticipation of the beginning of the end in “December Day”, as the character announces “This looks like a December day. It looks like we’ve come to the end of the way”. “Yesterday’s Wine” finds the character drinking in a bar, talking to the regulars about his life, and reflecting on aging. In “Me and Paul”, the Imperfect Man remembers the circumstances in which he lived with a friend in past times. The album ends with “Goin’ Home”, as the character watches his own funeral.

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Of the writing of “December Day” and “Summer of Roses,” with Nelson remembered, “I couldn’t write a suite of songs, no matter how spiritual, without reference to romance,” he deemed “Summer of Roses” and “December Day” “love poems. In the first song, love was fleeting, tragically brief; in the second, love was remembered…” “December Day” had been recorded previously for Nelson’s 1969 LP Good Times. “Family Bible” was another old tune that Nelson, a struggling songwriter at the time, sold to Paul Buskirk for fifty dollars; Buskirk took it to Claude Gray, whose version charted at number 7 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs in 1960. A song based on his own youth, Nelson later insisted, “There could be no Yesterday’s Wine without ‘Family Bible.'” In his memoir Nelson wrote that “Me and Paul” was a song “that described the road that my drummer and best friend, Paul English, and I had been riding together”. The cover art was designed by Hartsel Gray and the liner notes written by Dee Moeller.

The RCA Records marketing department considered the album difficult to promote. In 2015, Nelson recalled the opinion of one of the label’s executives, who told the singer “It’s your fuckin’ worst album to date”. Nelson further added that another member of the label felt that the release was “some far-out shit that maybe the hippies high on dope can understand, but the average music lover is gonna think you’ve lost your cotton-pickin’ mind.” RCA released a single containing “Yesterday’s Wine” and “Me and Paul” on the flipside in October 1971. The single peaked at number 62 in Billboard’s Country Singles. The label pressed 10,000 units of the album, which was released in August 1971.

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Yesterday’s Wine failed to chart, and did not satisfy RCA’s expectations. Although his contract was not over, Nelson decided to retire because of the number of failures he had had. Nelson later wrote in his autobiography, “I think it’s one of my best albums, but Yesterday’s Wine was regarded by RCA as way too spooky and far out to waste promotion money on.”[9] In 2015 he added: “I was tempted to say something, to show how the songs fit together in one cohesive story, but I stuck to my guns and stayed silent…Nashville and I had been trying damn hard but we hadn’t really seen eye to eye for most of the sixties. I felt like I had shown goodwill and patience. I’d given the Music City establishment a fair chance. After Yesterday’s Wine, I cut other albums for RCA, but the story was always the same. The sales were slow and the producers lukewarm about my output. My career had stalled.” The album was later considered one of the first concept albums in country music. Meanwhile, author Michael Streissguth felt that Yesterday’s Wine “tried to be a concept album, but it lacked a clear thread, despite Willie’s claim to the contrary.”

Nelson moved to Austin, Texas and returned to music in the following year. He formed a new band and performed in local venues, as his act was rejuvenated by the burgeoning hippie scene of the city.

Music critic Robert Christgau gave the album a B+. Christgau observed: “The great Nashville songsmith has never bowled anyone over with his singing, and here he finds the concept to match.” The Reviewer felt that the “religious themes” present in the songs “tends to limit their general relevance.” Nathan Bush described Yesterday’s Wine for The New York Times as “the last and best of [Nelson’s] Nashville albums”, saying that it was “Organized in the manner of an epic poem, each cut a metaphor in the journey through life … it was Nashville’s first fully conceived concept album, and nobody knew what to make of it. It soon disappeared quietly and utterly.” Rolling Stone wrote: “[Yesterdays Wine] is the first of his bold, conceptual departures from country’s hits-plus-filler norm. Rather than tack rock guitar riffs onto modern honky-tonk sagas, Nelson absorbed the innovations of Bob Dylan and the singer-songwriters into his own distinct style. Even if the narrative concepts don’t always hold together, Willie hangs his most ambitious albums on some of his catchiest tunes.”

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The Fort Worth Star-Telegram welcomed it as “the usual heady stuff expected from this unique song stylist.” The Dayton Daily News gave it an A. The reviewer considered it “the most touching piece” that he “came across in many years”. San Antonio Express-News considered that Nelson’s “tearful voice” did #an excellent job in getting the message driven across in a collection of soft ballads”. The review described Nelson’s songwriting as “deft of handling meaningful words” in “Family Bible”, and his “mastery of the lyrics” on “Summer of Roses” and “December Day”. The piece concluded that it represented “a showcase for Nelson’s talents” and that it was “worthy of general listening, and listening again”.

AllMusic gave Yesterday’s Wine five stars out of five. Critic Nathan Bush compared it to Nelson’s subsequent album Red Headed Stranger, suggesting that while the story on Yesterday’s Wine “isn’t as tightly constructed”, it gave the album “a feeling of malleability that adds to its power”. Bush concluded that “Yesterday’s Wine provides further insight into the development of his art during this prolific period.”

In their book, The Listener’s Guide to Country Music, Robert Oermann and Douglas B. Green compared the album with Nelson’s later recordings for Columbia Records: “All of those are beautiful records. They’re all on Columbia and are made just the way Willie wanted them. It was not always so at his previous record label, RCA. Nevertheless, he made a few landmark recordings while he was with that company … Few of the songs on Yesterday’s Wine are well-known Nelson compositions, but all are minor masterpieces”. (wikipedia)

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Personnel:
William Paul Ackerman (drums)
Jerry Carrigan (drums)
Roy M. “Junior” Huskey (bass)
Dave Kirby (guitar)
Charlie McCoy (harmonica)
Weldon Myrick (pedal steel.guitar)
Willie Nelson (vocals, guitar)
Hargus “Pig” Robbins (keyboards)
Jerry Dean Smith (piano)
Buddy Spicher (fiddle)
Bobby Thompson (banjo)
Herman Wade, Jr. (guitar)
Chip Young (guitar)
Dave Zettner (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Intro: Willie Nelson and Band / Medley: Where’s The Show; Let Me Be A Man 3.42
02. In God’s Eyes 2.24
03. Family Bible 3.13
04. It’s Not For Me To Understand 3.07
05. Medley: These Are Difficult Times / Remember The Good Times 3.17
06. Summer Of Roses 2.05
07. December Day 2.20
08. Yesterday’s Wine 3.16
09. Me And Paul 3.51
10. Goin’ Home 3.07

All songs written by Willie Nelson
except 03, written by Claude Gray, Paul Buskirk & Walter Breeland

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It’s been rough and rocky travelin’
But I’m finally standin’ upright on the ground
After takin’ several readings
I’m surprised to find my mind’s still fairly sound
I guess Nashville was the roughest
But I know I’ve said the same about them all
We received our education
In the cities of the nation, me and Paul

Almost busted in Laredo
But for reasons that I’d rather not disclose
But if you’re stayin’ in a motel there and leave
Just don’t leave nothin’ in your clothes
And at the airport in Milwaukee
They refused to let us board the plane at all
They said we looked suspicious
But I believe they like to pick on me and Paul

On a package show in Buffalo
Wth us and Kitty Wells and Charlie Pride
The show was long and we’re just sittin’ there
And we’d come to play and not just for the ride
Well we drank a lot of whiskey
So I don’t know if we went on that night at all
But I don’t think they even missed us
I guess Buffalo ain’t geared for me and Paul

Well it’s been rough and rocky travelin’
But I’m finally standin’ upright on the ground
And after takin’ several readings
I’m surprised to find my mind’s still fairly sound
I guess Nashville was the roughest
But I know I’ve said the same about them all
We received our education
In the cities of the nation, me and Paul

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Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson – W W II (1982)

FrontCover1WWII is a duet album by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, released on RCA Victor in 1982.

By 1982, the outlaw country movement was past its peak but Jennings and Nelson, the movement’s primary artists, remained two of country music’s biggest superstars. Jennings had scored nine Top 5 solo albums in a row, with five going to #1, between 1974 and 1982. Nelson was also enjoying his commercial prime, with his 1982 album Always on My Mind not only topping the Billboard country albums chart but also peaking at #2 on the pop albums chart. By the early 1980s, Nelson’s appeal had transcended country music; his affable personae, as well as his increasing presence in films, had made him a crossover star. Jennings, who was struggling to rebuild his finances and in the throes of a crippling cocaine addiction, had seen his most recent album Black on Black receive lukewarm reviews, even though it had been produced by Chips Moman, who had also produced Nelson’s Always on My Mind.

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Jennings and Nelson had enjoyed some of their greatest success together. The 1976 compilation Wanted! The Outlaws became the first million selling country album and their 1978 album Waylon and Willie, released at the height of the outlaw country movement, produced the chart-topping hit “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.” By all accounts, Jennings and Nelson were kindred spirits and close friends, but their egos did clash occasionally; in his memoir Willie Nelson, biographer Joe Nick Patoski quotes Nelson’s ex-wife Connie: “They had such a mutual respect for each other and their music, it was like a brother bond, literally. There was always a little bit of – not jealousy – but Willie would make him [Jennings] feel inferior in some ways, and I think it was because of the cocaine.” Asleep at the Wheel pianist Floyd Domino, who played with Jennings’ band in 1983, also noticed the tension between the two legends, telling Patoski, “You could tell Waylon was bothered by Willie’s success, although he said he didn’t care. He’d tell audiences, ‘I don’t care if I’m not number one. I’ll be number two.’ The crowd didn’t even know what he was talking about. I saw Willie on some cooking show on TV and the host said Waylon was mad at him. Willie laughed and said, ‘What’s he mad about today?’ Waylon cared. Willie didn’t.”

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Although Chips Moman had produced both singers’ previous albums, the sessions that comprise WWII date from before those records; most are from December 1981. The songs were recorded at Moman’s Nashville studio and mastered at Woodland Studios with David Cherry serving as co-engineer with Moman. Whereas 1978’s Waylon and Willie contained several previously released backing tracks upon which Nelson had overdubbed his vocals, WWII bears all the hallmarks of Moman’s slick production. Despite being more of a “complete thought” than its predecessor, the vitality evident on Waylon and Willie is not as apparent on this LP; in his review of the album that can be found on AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine observes:

“In 1982, Waylon and Willie were still riding high on the country charts, but the quality of Jennings’ work was beginning to slip and his sales were responding accordingly, as 1982’s Black on Black reflected. Nelson had his biggest hit ever that year with Always on My Mind, but it also was his worst album to date, the first time he sounded like he couldn’t be bothered…even at its best, WWII is nowhere near as good as Waylon and Willie are at their best, since they’re coasting on reputation through most of this, a fact that’s only enhanced by Moman’s glossy showcase production.”

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Although billed as a collaborative effort, WWII is more of a vehicle for Jennings; Willie sings on only five of the eleven tracks – all duets – while Waylon takes the lead on the remaining six songs. The album spawned one hit, a cover of Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” which peaked at #13 on the country singles charts. Despite its modest success compared to some of the duo’s previous singles like “Good Hearted Woman” and “Mammas Don’t Let your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” the song is brilliantly interpreted and remains as good an example as any of the fellow Texans’ chemistry as artists. Another highlight is “Write Your Own Songs,” Nelson’s diatribe of the music business and music executives in particular (“We’re making you rich and you were already lazy/So lay on your asses and get richer or write your own songs”), whom he and Jennings had battled for years to gain control of their own records. Jennings had a hand in writing two songs: the inspirational “Roman Candles,” which he composed with Michael Smotherman, and the narration “The Old Mother’s Locket Trick,” written with fellow outlaw Guy Clark.

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The Chips Moman/Bobby Emmons composition “May I Borrow Some Sugar from You” had appeared on Jennings’ previous album Black on Black, while “The Last Cowboy Song” would resurface three years later on the first Highwaymen album. Jennings and Nelson also cover the Tom T. Hall classic story song “The Year Clayton Delaney Died.”

Ultimately, WWII failed to have as major an impact as Waylon & Willie, although it peaked at #3 on the Billboard country albums chart and #57 on the pop albums chart. (wikipedia)

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Personnel:
J. I. Allison (drums)
Jerry Bridges (bass)
Gene Chrisman (drums, percussion)
Johnny Christopher (guitar)
Bobby Emmons (keyboards)
Waylon Jennings (vocals, guitar)
Mike Leech (bass)
Chips Moman (guitar)
Willie Nelson (vocals, guitar)
Bobby Wood (piano)
Reggie Young (guitar)
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background vocals:
Johnny Christopher – Toni Wine,

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Tracklist:
01. Mr. Shuck And Jive (Waylon & Willie) (Webb) 3.46
02. Roman Candles (Waylon) (Smotherman) 3.01
03. (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay (Waylon & Willie) (Redding/Cropper) 3.19
04. The Year That Clayton Delaney Died (Waylon & Willie) (Hall) 3.03
05. Lady In The Harbor (Waylon) (Gilmore/Allison/Curtis) 3.13
06. May I Borrow Some Sugar From You (Waylon) (Emmons/Moman) 3.16
07. Last Cowboy Song (Waylon) (Bruce/Peterson) 2.14
08. Heroes (Waylon & Willie) (Emmons/Moman) 2.43
09. The Teddy Bear Song (Waylon) (Earl/Nixon) 3.03
10. Write Your Own Songs (Waylon & Willie) (Nelson) 3.13
11. The Old Mother’s Locket Trick (Waylon) (Clark) 3.03

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Various Artists – Honeymoon In Vegas (OST) (1992)

FrontCover1Honeymoon in Vegas is a 1992 American romantic comedy film directed by Andrew Bergman and starring James Caan, Nicolas Cage, and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Private Detective (“Private eye”) Jack Singer (Nicolas Cage) swore to his mother on her deathbed that he would never marry. His girlfriend, Betsy (Sarah Jessica Parker) wants to get married and start a family, and he proposes a quick Las Vegas marriage. They check into the Bally’s Casino Resort.

Before the wedding, however, a wealthy professional gambler, Tommy Korman (James Caan), notices Betsy has a striking resemblance to his beloved late wife, Donna. He arranges a crooked poker game (with Jerry Tarkanian as one of the other players) that prompts Jack to borrow $65,000 after being dealt a straight flush (7-8-9-10-Jack of clubs), only to lose to the gambler’s higher straight flush (8-9-10-Jack-Queen of hearts); Tommy offers to erase the debt in exchange for spending the weekend with Betsy.

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After Tommy agrees to no sex, the desperate couple consent. Jack discovers that Tommy has taken Betsy to his vacation home in Kauai. The gambler asks his taxi driver friend, Mahi Mahi (Pat Morita) to keep Jack as far as possible from him and Betsy. Jack discovers this, steals the taxi. He sees Betsy outside the Kauai Club where he is attacked by Tommy and arrested. Jack’s dentist friend, Sally Molars (John Capodice), bails Jack out of jail. Mahi Mahi meets Jack outside and admits that Tommy left for Las Vegas with Betsy and has convinced her to marry him. Mahi races Jack to the airport. Betsy decides she cannot go through with the wedding and escapes from Tommy.

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Meanwhile, after changing many planes and finding himself stuck in San Jose, Jack tries frantically to find a flight to Las Vegas. He joins a group about to depart for Las Vegas but discovers mid-flight that they are the Utah chapter of the “Flying Elvises” – a skydiving team of Elvis impersonators. Jack realizes he has to skydive from 3,000 feet to get to Betsy. Jack overcomes his fear. He lands and spots Betsy, ruining Tommy’s plans.

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Jack and Betsy are married in a small Las Vegas chapel with the Flying Elvises as guests. Jack is wearing a white illuminated jumpsuit and Betsy in a stolen showgirl outfit. (wikipedia)

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And here´s the soundtrack from the movie:

Country singers rule this soundtrack of Elvis Presley covers, which is every bit as flawed, frivolous and fun as the film from whence it came. While Billy Joel parodies “All Shook Up” and “Heartbreak Hotel,” John Mellencamp labors to avoid parodying “Jailhouse Rock,” and U2’s Bono transforms “Can’t Help Falling in Love” into an obsessive parable about hero worship, folks like Ricky Van Shelton and Trisha Yearwood just sit back and sing the things, which at least makes them pleasant after more than one plaing.

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Dwight Yoakam’s power-chord-country version of “Suspicious Minds” and Travis Tritt’s “Burning Love” rank with their best remakes. Breaking the trend are pop crooner Bryan Ferry, who sings a seductive British soul version of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and the usually trustworthy Vince Gill, whose Pat Boone-style rendition of Arthur Crudup’s classic blues “That’s All Right” cleans up the grammar. (by Brian Mansfield)

And if you are interested in rarities from musicians like Billy Joel, Bono, Jeff Beck, Willie Nelson. Bryan Ferry, Amy Grant or John Mellencamp …

… you should listen and enjoy !

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Tracklist:
01. Billy Joel: All Shook Up (Blackwell/Presley) 2.10
02. Ricky van Shelton: Wear My Ring Around Your Neck (Carroll/Russell) 2.14
03. Amy Grant: Love Me Tender (Matson/Presley) 3.52
04. Travis Tritt: Burning Love (Linde) 3.35
05. Billy Joel: Heartbreak Hotel (Axton/Durden/Elvis Presley) 3.22
06. Bryan Ferry:  Are You Lonesome Tonight? (Handman/Turk) 5.00
07. Dwight Yoakam: Suspicious Minds (James) 3.52
08. Trisha Yearwood: (You’re The) Devil In Disguise (Baum/Kaye) 2.38
09. Jeff Beck &Jed Leiber: Hound Dog (Leiber/Stoller) 2.13
10. Vince Gill: That’s All Right (Crudup) 2.44
11. John Mellencamp: Jailhouse Rock (Leiber/Stoller) 3.36
12. Willie Nelson: Blue Hawaii (Rainger/Robin) 2.37
13. Bono: Can’t Help Falling in Love (Creatore/Peretti/Weiss) 2.04

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Willie Nelson – Live At The The Troubadour (West Hollywood CA) (1975)

FrontCover1.jpgThe year was 1975, and Willie Nelson figured he could trust bad luck more than good. His last album, Phases and Stages, had sold a pleasant 400,000 copies, but 21 previous records had largely lackluster sales. He’d tried pig farming on the side and ”lost my ass and all its fixtures.” His house had burned down, and rushing into the flames, he’d saved only his guitar and a pound of Colombian weed. So, after years of bucking the country establishment in Nashville, playing bass for Ray Price, and watching songs he wrote for himself (”Crazy,” ”Night Life,” ”Hello, Walls”) become hits for others, Nelson, who had moved back to his native Texas in 1970, got ready to deliver his Columbia debut, Red Headed Stranger, a concept album of love, murder, and redemption involving an Old West preacher and his cuckolding wife.

It was Nelson’s first effort at combining his own songs with others’ in a cohesive story. ”I Willie Nelson01.jpgwrote it as if I were the guy, which is probably the way I write everything,” he would later say. Produced in three days for $20,000 in a small studio in Garland, Tex., Stranger was everything a commercial country record shouldn’t be. It was a song cycle, not a grab bag of detached ditties. It used his own rough-edged band instead of smooth studio pickers.

When Billy Sherrill, Columbia’s top man in Nashville, heard it, he walked out of the room. When Waylon Jennings and Willie’s manager, Neil Reshen, played it for the New York brass, they thought it was a demo. Nelson reminded them of his creative-control clause and pledged to give it up if the LP bombed — but not even he foresaw what was about to happen.

Stranger became the first Nelson album ever to reach the Billboard pop chart when it debuted at No. 189 on July 26, 1975. It yielded two crossover singles, ”Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” and ”Remember Me.” The album, too, was a mainstream hit, selling like Gatorade at a chili cook-off-some 2 million copies over the next decade. It propelled Nelson to cult status overnight and, most important, introduced modern country music, single-handedly revitalizing a genre long considered the province of hayseeds. (ew.com)

And here´s a wonderful Willie Nelson concert from this year … this show should promote his “Red Headed Stranger”.

And here´s is theKWST-FM Broadcast Recording of this shoiw.

Another highligt in the history ofWillie Nelson !

Recorded live at the Troubadour West Hollywood CA., November 06, 1975

Troubadour

Personnel:
Paul “The Devil” English (drums)
Rex Ludwick (drums)
Bobbi Nelson (piano)
Willie Nelson (guitar, vocals)
Jody Payne (guitar, vocals
Micky Raphael (harmonica)
Bee Spears (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. Introduction 0.12
02. Whiskey River (Bush/Stroud) 4.35
03. Stay All Night (Wills/Duncan) 2.55
04. Funny How Time Slips Away (Nelson) 2.29
05. Crazy (Nelson) 1.36
06. Night Life (Nelson) 3.55
07. Me & Paul (Nelson) 2.44
08. Bloody Mary Morning (Nelson) 2.36
09. I Still Can’t Believe You’re Gone (Nelson) 4.08
10. It’s Not Supposed To Be That Way (Nelson) 2.04
11. A Good Hearted Woman In Love With A Good Timin’ Man (Jennings/Nelson) 2.53
12. KWST-FM Los Angeles Radio Station Promo 0.12
13. Time Of The Preacher (Nelson) 2.09
14. I Could Not Believe It Was True (Mellencamp) 1.08
15. Time Of The Preacher Theme (Nelson) 1.16
16. Blue Rock Montana (Nelson/Stutz/Lindeman) 1.30
17.Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain (Rose) 2.19
18. Red Headed Stranger Nelson/Stutz/Lindeman) 3.16
19. Time Of The Preacher Theme (reprise) (Nelson) 2.00
20. Unknown Song (instrumental) 1.27
21. Band introductions 1.01
22. What Can You Do To Me Now (Nelson/Cochran) 3.24
23. Shotgun Willie (Nelson) 2.41
24. A Song For You (Russell) 3.00
25. Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms (Traditional) 3.01
26. Will The Circle Be Unbroken (Habershon/Gabriel) 3.55

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Various Artists – Crossroads Guitar Festival (2007)

FrontCover1.jpgReleased almost exactly three years after the first, tremendously successful Crossroads DVD, this double-disc documents the 2007 benefit concert for Clapton’s Crossroads Center substance abuse facility. “Guitar” is the operative word here, since all the participants are six-string players. As in the last show, the genres include country (Willie Nelson, Vince Gill), gospel (Robert Randolph), Latin rock (Los Lobos), pop (Sheryl Crow, John Mayer), jazz fusion (John McLaughlin, Jeff Beck) and lots of blues (everyone else). Some performers such as Randolph, Mayer, B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray, Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy, and of course Clapton return from the 2004 lineup. That was a two-day event held in Dallas, TX. This was a one day — a very long day — show moved to the home of the blues, a stadium just outside of Chicago, and features a very funny Bill Murray introducing the acts.

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Based on the sunlight, it seems to be in chronological order, or close to it. Each artist gets one or two tunes cherrypicked from longer sets which keeps this album fast paced, even at its three-hour length. Still, it would make sense to release more music on a separate DVD or even CD for those who would like to hear the rest of the material. That is especially the case with Jeff Beck and Robert Randolph, two artists that burn up the stage with abbreviated performances. A highly anticipated reunion with Clapton and his Blind Faith bandmate Steve Winwood results in three songs, “Presence of the Lord,” “Can’t Find My Way Home,” and “Had to Cry Today” from that band’s only album.

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While it sounds fine, there is a noticeable spark and edge missing from the interaction, leaving it somewhat bland and certainly anti-climactic. Derek Trucks burns through Layla’s “Anyday,” though, and Clapton sounds inspired on “Tell the Truth,” another Layla track cranked up with Trucks taking the Duane Allman slide part. Collaborations also bring out the best in some axe slingers, with Vince Gill and Albert Lee’s hot-wired “Country Boy,” and Jimmie Vaughan fronting the Robert Cray band on a sizzling slow blues “Dirty Work at the Crossroads.” (by Hal Horowitz)

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Tracklist:
01. Sonny Landreth: Hell At Home (with Eric Clapton) (Landreth) 6.38
02. John McLaughlin: Maharina (McLaughlin) 8.00
03. Doyle Bramhall II; Outside Woman Blues (Reynolds) 3.45
04. Derek Trucks Band: Highway 61 Revisited (with Johnny Winter) (Dylan) 9.17
05. Robert Randolph & The Family Band: The March (Randolph) 12.04
06. The Robert Cray Band: Poor Johnny (Cray) 6.20
07. Jimmie Vaughan: Dirty Work At The Crossroads (with The Robert Cray Band) (Brown/ Robey) 4.09
08. Hubert Sumlin: Sitting On The Top Of The World (with he Robert Cray Band & Jimmie Vaughan (Burnett) 4.29
09. B.B. King: The Thrill Is Gone (Benson/Pettie) 7.14
10. John Mayer: I Don´t Need No Doctor (Ashford/Simpson/Armstead) 7.10
11. Vince Gill: Sweet Thing (Nicholson/Gill) 5.04
12. Albert Lee: Country Boy (with Vince Gill) (Lee/Smith/Colton)
13. Eric Clapton & Sheryl Crow: Tulsa Time (with Vince Gill & Albert Lee) (Flowers) 6.32
14. Willie Nelson: On The Road Again  (with Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill & Albert Lee) (Nelson) 2.50
15. Los Lobos: Chains Of Love (Hidalgo/Pérez) 6.53
16. Jeff Beck: Big Block (Beck/Bozzio/Hymas) 5.44
17. Eric Clapton: Little Queen Of Spades (Johnson) 12.59
18. Eric Clapton & Robbie Robertson: Further On Up The Road (Robey‎/Veasey) 7.18
19. Steve Winwood & Eric Clapton: Pearly Queen (Capaldi/Winwood) 5.47
20. Steve Winwood & Eric Clapton: Had To Cry Today (Winwood) 6.24
21. Steve Winwood & Eric Clapton: Cocaine (Cale) 9.30
22. Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood: Crossroads (Johnson) 5.59
23. Buddy Guy: Stone Crazy
24. Buddy Guy: Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues (Guy) 5.21
25. Buddy Guy & Eric Clapton: Hoochie Coochie Man (Dixon) 9.18
26. Buddy Guy: Sweet Home Chicago (with Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, John Mayer, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmie Vaughan, Johnny Winter) (Johnson) 8.53

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Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis – Two Men With The Blues (2008)

FrontCover1.jpgTwo Men with the Blues is a live album by Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis. It was released on July 8, 2008 by Blue Note and sold 22,000 copies in it first week of release. It was recorded on January 12–13, 2007, at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.

The album held the number one position in the Billboard Jazz Albums chart for four weeks. It spent a total of 67 weeks on that chart. It peaked at number 20 on both the Billboard 200 and the Billboard Digital Albums charts, spending eight weeks and one week on the charts respectively. (by wikipedia)

History has proven that Willie Nelson will duet with pretty much anybody who comes along, and while this open-hearted open mind sometimes backfires, more often than not it results in some of his most sublime recordings. Two Men with the Blues, his album with jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis recorded over a two-night stand at Jazz at Lincoln Center on January 12 and 13, 2007, belongs in the latter category, standing as truly one of the most special records in either Nelson’s or Marsalis’ catalog. If the pair initially seem like an odd match, it’s only because Wynton long carried the reputation of a purist, somebody who was adamant against expanding the definition of jazz, which cast him as the opposite of Willie, who never found a border he couldn’t blur.

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Marsalis mellowed over the years, but it’s also true that he and Nelson share a common background in jazz and the Great American Songbook, so this pairing plays naturally, providing equal measures of comfort and surprise. The engine for this music is Marsalis’ band — pianist Dan Nimmer, drummer Ali Jackson, bassist Carlos Henríquez, and saxophonist Walter Blanding — with Nelson bringing his harmonica player Mickey Raphael along, which is enough to give this a flavor that’s quite distinct from a typical Marsalis session without being foreign. Similarly, this isn’t quite alien territory for Nelson either, as the repertoire relies heavily on blues standards, including a pair of tunes he cut on his jazzy breakthrough, Stardust (the title track and “Georgia on My Mind”), plus he’s always veered close to jazz in his vocal and guitar phrasings. All this means that Two Men with the Blues has the warm comfort of a reunion and the freshness of a new collaboration, feelings that are palpable as soon as the album kicks off with a loose yet nimble reading of Jimmy Reed’s “Bright Lights, Big City.” It’s a subtle arrangement that doesn’t draw attention to its unique touches, something that’s also true of the flashier take on Hank Williams’ “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It,” which lurches and careens like a New Orleans marching band, coming to a highlight when Marsalis throws in a few lines from “Keep on Knockin'” for good measure.

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These sly spins on standards, along with a jump blues reworking of Merle Travis’ “That’s All” (first heard on a Willie Nelson record back in 1969), are balanced by numbers that are perhaps a bit more expected but are no less delightful, as “Night Life” is turned into a showcase for Wynton and the bandmembers sound as good skipping through “Caldonia” as they do laying back on “Basin Street Blues.” It’s music that flows so easily it’s perhaps easy to take for granted, but Two Men with the Blues is truly something special, as it captures two masters enjoying their common ground while spurring each other to hear old sounds in new ways. It’s a flat-out joy. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Walter Blanding (saxophone)
Carlos Henriquez (bass)
Ali Jackson (drums)
Wynton Marsalis (trumpet, vocals)
Willie Nelson (vocals, guitar)
Dan Nimmer (piano)
Mickey Raphael (harmonica)

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Tracklist:
01. Bright Lights, Big City (Reed) 5.21
02. Night Life (Nelson) 5.44
03. Caldonia (Moore) 3.26
04. Stardust (Carmichael) 5.09
05. Basin Street Blues (Williams) 4.57
06. Georgia On My Mind (Carmichael/Gorrell) 4.41
07. Rainy Day Blues (Nelson) 5.44
08. My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It (Williams) 4.57
09. Ain’t Nobody’s Business (Grainger/Robbins) 7.28
10. That’s All (Travis) 6.08

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I would like to dedicate this entry to greygoose … a real enthusiastic fan of Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson- My Way (2018)

FrontCover1.jpgA Country singer can´t sing Frank Sinatra …no ! But if a Country is Willie Nelson … yes !

My Way is the sixty-eighth solo studio album by Willie Nelson. It was released on September 14, 2018, by Legacy Recordings. The album is a tribute to Frank Sinatra, who was a close friend of Nelson’s. The album received the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, marking Nelson’s 13th career Grammy win.

Nelson first teased the album on April 27, 2018, while promoting his album Last Man Standing in an article published by Variety, saying that the Great American Songbook “is a deep well, because good songs never die. If it was good a hundred years ago, it’s still good today.”

The album was formally announced on July 19, 2018. It is a collection of songs closely associated with Frank Sinatra, whom Nelson first heard at 10 years old when Sinatra joined the radio program Your Hit Parade. Nelson and Sinatra were close friends and mutual admirers of each other’s work. In the 1980s, the pair performed on the same bill at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas and appeared together in a public service announcement for the Space Foundation.

The album’s first single, “Summer Wind”, was released on the same day, along with its accompanying music video.

On August 24, 2018, “I’ll Be Around” was released as the album’s second single, with its music video premiering the same day.

The third single from the album, “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)”, was released on September 10, 2018, along with its music video. (by wikipedia)

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Ever since 1978’s Stardust, standards albums have been part of Willie Nelson’s arsenal, but 2018’s My Way presents a twist on this shopworn tradition: it’s designed as a tribute to Frank Sinatra. Album-long tributes to Sinatra aren’t uncommon — Bob Dylan devoted much of the 2010s to recording a series of tributes to him — but My Way stands apart from the pack by capturing both the rakish charm of the Chairman of the Board and Nelson’s sly elegance. Nelson balances standards from the Great American Songbook (“A Foggy Day,” “Blue Moon,” “Night and Day,” “Young at Heart”) with songs written with Sinatra in mind (“Fly Me to the Moon,” “Summer Wind,” “It Was a Very Good Year,” “My Way”), which brings My Way closer to the essence of Frank Sinatra than Dylan’s stylized saloon records. This is light and breezy, music that suggests the swinging heyday of Sinatra without ever quite sounding like a dusty old Capitol LP, not even the horns are sighing and blaring. Chalk that up to Nelson, who sounds limber if a bit scraggly, both in his voice and on his guitar. There’s a wry, insouciant charm to his performances: he knows how to ratchet up the drama in “It Was Very Good Year,” realizes “My Way” is irresistible hokum, and slides into the calming melody of “Summer Wind.” Unlike Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin, Nelson’s limitations aren’t a hindrance, and the arrangements aren’t excessively polite, which means My Way is an appealingly light record: it’s performed with more affection than reverence. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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It’s about the band here, also. That driving, fat bass by David Piltch, who gives these straight-forward arrangements a strong foundation. The sparse, but so distinctive piano phrases by Matt Rollings (Lyle Lovett’s long time band member), who did the arrangements in a delightfully direct, fresh way. The tiny whiny harmonica occoupying the upper range. Some subtle guitars by Dean Parks and the master himself. Precise horns and a topping of strings if needed. All the schmalz is gone here, remains all the the fresh wind and this very unique Willie Nelson way of blowing the dust off these old songs. (Alexander Ziemann)

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Personnel:
Jay Bellerose (drums)
Jeff Coffin (saxophone)
Paul Franklin (pedal steel-guitar)
Barry Green (trombone)
Mike Haynes (trumpet)
Chris McDonald (trombone)
Doug Moffet (saxophone)
Willie Nelson (guitar, vocals)
Dean Parks (guitar)
Steve Patrick (trumpet)
David Piltch (bass)
Mickey Raphael (harmonica)
Matt Rollings (keyboards)
Denis Solee (saxophone)
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Norah Jones (vocals on 09.)
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strings:
Monisa Angell – Janet Darnall – David Davidson – Conni Ellisor – Alicia Enstrom –
Anthony La Marchina – Betsy Lamb -Carole Rabinowitz – Sari Reist – Kristin Wilkinson – Karen Winkelmann

strings arranged by Kristin Wilkinson

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Tracklist:
01. Fly Me To “he Moon (Howard) 2:44
02. Summer Wind (Meier/Mercer) 3:23
03. One For My Baby (And One More For The Road) (Arlen/Mercer) 3:59
04. A Foggy Day (G.Gershwin(I.Gershwin) 2:57
05. It Was A Very Good Year (Drake) 3:56
06. Blue Moon (Rodgers/Hart) 2:37
07. I’ll Be Around (Wilder) 2:59
08. Night And Day (Porter) 2:48
09. What Is This Thing Called Love? (Porter) 2:27
10. Young At Heart (Richards/Leigh) 2:46
11. My Way (Anka/François/Revaux) 4:49

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Willie Nelson – It Always Will Be (2004)

WillieNelsonFrontCover1It Always Will Be is the fifty-second studio album by country singer Willie Nelson. It includes a cover of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Midnight Rider”, recorded here as a duet with Toby Keith. This cover was released, but did not chart. (by wikipedia)

On his millionth album (or does it just feel that way?), Willie Nelson teams with a new band — except for Family Band harmonicat Mickey Raphael — and duets with some major leaguers. Most of the time, It Always Will Be feels like a Willie album of old. Recorded for the Lost Highway label and produced by James Stroud in Nash Vegas, it’s an inspired collection of fine songs for the most part, and Nelson is in fine voice with the edges beginning to show just a tiny bit. He wrote the title cut, one of the strongest here. Lyrically, it’s tender without being overly sentimental, sweet without being saccharine, and delivered with his trademark elegance and grace. The cover of Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan’s “Picture in a Frame,” though faithful, puts Nelson’s stamp firmly on it. With Raphael’s harmonica, Willie’s acoustic, and a skeletal band featuring an understated pedal steel, Nelson’s dignity in the delivery is deeply moving. When he’s this on fire, the only place he usually blows it is in duets — at least on his own records. There are duets here. “Be That As It May,” with daughter Paula and written by her, is just a gorgeous country song. The pair’s voices contrast beautifully and the tune itself is tight and hooky in a Texas country music way.

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“Dreams Come True,” with Norah Jones, is a pretty swing tune that is forgettable but far from offensive, and Lucinda Williams is the star on her own “Overtime.” Willie and Lucinda were made to sing together; the melancholy of the tune lends itself well to her whiskey contralto and his easy baritone. The tune sweetly drifts and lilts with swaying guitars, an accordion, and whispering brushwork. Toby Keith makes an appearance singing background vocals on his “Tired,” but Nelson makes the song his own. Nelson’s “Texas” is a wonderful mariachi blues song that gives way to bittersweet Southwestern honky tonk balladry and showcases his excellent guitar work. The set closes with the album’s only dog, a big-beat over-produced dancy punch-up of Gregg Allman’s classic “Midnight Rider.” It sucks bad. Why this song made the cut is a mystery, but it’s a typical thing for Nelson, to add something that just doesn’t fit. Thankfully, it’s the album’s final song and can be skipped. Be that as it may, It Always Will Be is the best outing for Nelson since Teatro. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Eddie Bayers (drums)
Dan Dugmore (pedal steel-guitar)
Chris Dunn (horn)
Scotty Emerick (guitar)
Shannon Forrest (drums)
Paul Franklin (pedal steel-guitar)
Kenny Greenberg (guitar)
Wes Hightower (vocals)
Jim Horn (horn)
Clayton Ivey (keyboards)
Amy James (vocals)
Sam Levine (horn)
Liana Manis (vocals)
Brent Mason (guitar)
Steve Nathan (keyboards)
Willie Nelson (guitar, vocals)
Steve Patrick (horn)
Mickey Raphael (harmonica)
Michael Rhodes (bass)
Matt Rollings (keyboards)
Biff Watson (guitar)
Glenn Worf (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. It Always Will Be (Nelson) 4.12
02. Picture In A Frame (Waits/Brennan) 3.39
03. The Way You See Me (Adams/Day) 4.21
04. Be That As It May (Nelson) (Duet with Paula Nelson) 3.29
05. You Were It (Nelson) 4.28
06. Big Booty (Throckmorton) 3.03
07. I Didn’t Come Here (And I Ain’t Leavin’) (Emerick/Smotherman) 3.10
08. My Broken Heart Belongs To You (Anderson/Nelson) 2.26
09. Dreams Come True (Hopkins) (Duet with Norah Jones) 4.35
10. Over Time (Williams) (Duet with Lucinda Williams) 3.45
11. Tired (Cannon/Keith) 4.19
12. Love’s The One And Only Thing (Emerick/Loggins) 3.35
13. Texas (Nelson) 3.56
14. Midnight Rider (Allman/Payne) (Duet with Toby Keith) 3.00

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Willie Nelson – Here’s Willie Nelson (1963)

FrontCover1Here’s Willie Nelson is the second studio album by country singer Willie Nelson.

After working as a disc jockey in Texas and Oregon, Nelson moved to Nashville in 1960 in hopes of making a living as a songwriter and recording artist. He found work writing compositions for Pamper Music and scored his first hit when Faron Young recorded “Hello Walls.” More hits followed, including Patsy Cline’s classic rendition of “Crazy,” but Nelson, who played bass on tour with Ray Price during this period, wanted to be a recording artist in his own right, and recorded his debut album, …And Then I Wrote for Liberty in 1962. He scored a Top 10 hit with “Touch Me,” but the LP was not a huge seller. Against his better judgement, Nelson would allow his songs to be heavily augmented when he returned to the studio, later admitting, “I didn’t argue. In those days, big productions like Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’ were huge hits. So if it worked for Johnny, maybe it’d work for me. I went along with the program.”

After failing to deliver a hit for Liberty, Joe Allison, who produced Nelson’s debut, was replaced by Tommy Allsup, who would go on to produce twenty-six sides on the singer between December 1962 and November 1963. Some of those tracks found their way onto his second album, on which Nelson’s voice was complemented by a pronounced country and swing sound, although the tracks arranged by Ernie Freeman blatantly pushed him in a pop or jazz direction. Unlike his debut, Here’s Willie Nelson contains more cover songs, including two made famous by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, “Roly Poly” and “Right or Wrong.” Wills, one of Nelson’s idols, would also write the liner notes for the LP.

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Nelson worked out several songs on his second album while touring with his wife Shirley Collie and steel guitarist Jimmy Day while playing shows as the trio The Offenders.  Nelson later expressed dissatisfaction with the recorded version of “Home Motel,” a song he described as “another study in despair,” and it was typical of the frustration that he would feel regarding the tepid sound of his albums in the decade ahead:

It was a thrill to play the song live. Jimmy Day had his steel guitar weeping just enough, and Shirley added just a touch of harmony, and I got to sing my blues the way the blues should be sung: no frills. Yet when I brought the song into the Liberty studios, the producers felt compelled to put on the frills. “Aren’t you worried you’re burying the soul of the song?” I asked. “More worried about the song not selling,” was the usual answer.

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In his 2015 memoir, Willie admitted that “Half a Man” was “one of my stranger songs. It’s about a guy who considers what it would be like, in the name of lost love, to start losing body parts…This wasn’t exactly a song that made you want to dance.” The song was released as a single but only made it to number 25, with Allsup recalling, “Half the country stations wouldn’t play ‘Half a Man’ because they thought it was morbid.” Years later Nelson would record the song as two different duets with Merle Haggard and George Jones. (by  wikipedia)

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Personnel:
Willie Nelson (guitar, vocals)
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a bunch of unknown studio musicians (arranged by Ernie Freeman &  Jimmy Day)

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Tracklist:
01. Roly Poly (Rose) 1.52
02. Half A Man (Nelson) 2.27
03. Lonely Little Mansion (Nelson) 2.26
04. The Last Letter (Griffin) 2.58
05. Second Fiddle (Miller) 2.24
06. Take My Word (Nelson) 1.50
07. Right Or Wrong (Gillespie/Sizemore/Biese) 2:10
08. Feed It A Memory (Cochran/Tubb) 2.35
09. Let Me Talk To You (Dill/Davis) 2.21
10. Way You See Me (Nelson) 2.58
11. Things I Might Have Been (Robert Sherman/Richard M. Sherman) 2.21
12. Home Motel (Nelson) 2.26

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Willie Nelson – … And Then I Wrote (1962)

WillieNelsonFrontCover1.jpg…And Then I Wrote is the debut studio album by country singer Willie Nelson, recorded during August and September 1962 and released through Liberty Records.

Despite Nelson’s fruitless efforts to succeed with his recording releases with D Records, and after trying with other labels as a singer, he sold several of his original written songs to other artists. After his composition “Family Bible” became a hit for Claude Gray in 1960, he moved to Nashville, where he was signed by Pamper Music as a songwriter. Several of his songs became hits for other artists, including Faron Young (“Hello Walls”); Ray Price (“Night Life”) and Patsy Cline (“Crazy”).

Fueled by the success of his songwriting, he was signed by Liberty Records. During August, Nelson started recording his first album, produced by Joe Allison. The single releases of the album “Touch Me” and “The Part Where I Cry” were recorded on that day in Nashville, Tennessee, while it was completed during September in the recording facilities of the label in Los Angeles, California. The single “Touch Me” became Nelson’s second top ten, reaching number 7 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles.

In 1958, Nelson released under a contract with Pappy Daily of D Records two records, “Man With the Blues”/”The Storm Has Just Begun” and “What a Way to Live”/”Misery Mansion”. While working for D Records and singing in nightclubs, Nelson was hired by guitar instructor Paul Buskirk to teach in his school. He sold to Buskirk his original songs “Family Bible” for US$50, and “Night Life” for US$150. “Family Bible” turned into a hit for Claude Gray in 1960.

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Nelson moved to Nashville in 1960, but no label signed him. Most of his demos were rejected. Nelson was later signed as a songwriter to Pamper Music with the help of Hank Cochran, who worked for the publishing company owned by Ray Price and Hal Smith. Faron Young recorded Nelson’s “Hello Walls”, and after Ray Price recorded Nelson’s “Night Life”, and his previous bassist Johnny Paycheck quit, Nelson joined Price’s touring band as a bass player. While playing with Price and the Cherokee Cowboys, other of his original songs became hits for other artists, including “Funny How Time Slips Away” (Billy Walker), “Pretty Paper” (Roy Orbison), and, most famously, “Crazy” by Patsy Cline. Nelson signed with Liberty Records and was recording by August 1961 at Quonset Hut Studio. As Nelson later recalled, Cochran was instrumental in getting him signed: “Hank had convinced Liberty’s A&R man for country music, Joe Allison, that I was the next big thing…Allison knew that there wasn’t any way I was gonna change my singing style – and that was fine by him. He understood me. He just wanted me to sing my own songs in my own way.”

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In his 2015 autobiography, Nelson insists that he composed “Crazy”, “Night Life”, “Funny How Time Slips Away”, “Mr. Record Man”, “I Gotta Get Drunk” and “The Party’s Over” in one songwriting jag while living in Houston before finally moving to Nashville: “Within an astounding short period of time – a week or two – I’d written a suite of songs that reflected my real-life situation. I knew these songs were damn good, but at the same time, I didn’t know what to do with them.” Nelson unconsciously borrowed the first few notes of “Crazy” from the Floyd Tillman song “I Gotta Have My Baby Back.”[10] “Hello Walls” was written after Nelson had been hired by Pamper Music. Initially collaborating with Hank Cochran, he was nervous at first, realising “this was creativity on demand,” and later recalling:

First few days found me a little uneasy. I had my guitar, a pencil, and a blank notebook. Hank might throw out an idea, hoping it might spark something in me. When that didn’t work, he might tell me a joke, or I might tell him one, hoping that joking would lead to some kind of song. It didn’t…And one afternoon, after we had just sat around throwing the bull, he said, “I’m going to the office to make a few calls. You work on something by yourself.

WillieNelson01By the time Cochran had returned from his phone call Nelson had written “Hello Walls” and sang it for him. “It’s worth a fuckin’ fortune,” Cochran responded, adding, “Willie, my friend, you just wrote a hit.”

The recording sessions for his first album release, …And Then I Wrote, began in the Nashville studios of Liberty Records. Nelson recorded on August 22–23, starting during the night and lasting until the morning of the following day. Dissatisfied with the results, Allison moved the sessions to the studios of the label in Los Angeles, California, where Nelson was joined by three other stellar guitarists – session leader Billy Strange, Roy Nichols from the Maddox Brothers, and Johnny Western, who had worked with Johnny Cash. During two sessions in September 11–12, Nelson recorded “Crazy”, “Darkness on the Face of the Earth”, “Three Days”, “Funny How Times Slips Away”, “Mr. Record Man” and “Hello Walls”. B.J. Baker led the vocal chorus that attempted to back Nelson, but the singer’s idiosyncratic style gave them problems, as recounted by Nelson biographer Joe Nick Patoski: “The singers got lost trying to follow Willie’s lead vocals until Joe Allsion put up some baffles between Willie and the singers so they couldn’t hear one another. To stay on the beat, the singers followed Johnny Western’s direction.” The liner notes of the album were written by local DJ Charlie Williams, by request of Allison. The albums biggest hit was “Touch Me,” a sad blues done in a slow drag with the rough edges smoothed out by harmony singers and a cool instrumental arrangement that reached the Top 10 and earned Nelson a place on jukeboxes throughput the United States.

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It was during the recording of “Mr. Record Man” that Nelson met his second wife Shirley Collie, with whom he would soon record the duet “Willingly,” a Cochran composition.

The record was released on September 1962. “Touch Me” was released as a single, becoming Nelson’s second top ten single, reaching No. 7 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart. Billboard wrote a review about the single, describing it as an “interesting country-styled tune” with “good” lyrics.  (by wikipedia)

Willie Nelson, with an innocent earnestness & remarkable sincerity unbecoming of Nashville’s production line business model is more in line with the work of Roy Orbison in Nashville (minus the Spector influences) at the same time this was recorded and should be approached as a singer-songwriter record written for the classic late 1950’s Nashville sound (Several of these songs were written in a two week window in Houston, just before he moved to Tennessee). Before Nelson was a singer, he was a remarkable songwriter pitching his songs to Patsy Cline and the likes. His humility and genuine WillieNelson03earnestness made him a popular man among musically inclined talents and producers like Joe Allison, and this August/September 1962 recording of his classic songs penned for others over the previous handful of years along with a couple new songs like Touch Me, intended to find a mass audience (It shot up the country charts to #7).

Allison saw Nelson’s talent outweighed his limitations as a vocalist, especially after having observed the folk movement going on in New York’s Greenwich Village and thought Nelson’s genuine ability to come off earnest, sincere and straight-forward with no nonsense would appeal to a new country audience seeking something closer to the lyrical inventiveness of Hank Williams. This is a wonderful listen, a truly remarkable cache of songs that while formulaic in their instrumentation and chord structure, are brilliant pieces of the human spirit and capture the range of emotions with a new sincerity Nashville wasn’t used to since the late 1950’s. All killer, no filler, a wonderful excursion into the pre-fame, salad and bread days when Willie was trying to make a name for himself behind the scenes. (Johnny Nebraska)

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Personnel:
Willie Nelson – guitar, vocals
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a bunch of unknown studio musicians (including Billy Strange, Roy Nichols and Johnny Western)

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Tracklist:
01. Touch Me (Nelson) 2.13
02. Wake Me When It’s Over (Nelson) 2.50
03. Hello Walls (Nelson) 2,25
04. Funny How Time Slips Away (Nelson) 3.04
05. Crazy (Nelson) 2.52
06. The Part Where I Cry (Nelson) 2.20
07. Mr. Record Man (Nelson) 2.47
08. Three Days (Nelson) 3.00
09. One Step Beyond (Nelson) 2.27
10. Undo The Right (Cochran/Nelson) 2.34
11. Darkness On The Face Of The Earth (Nelson) 2.33
12. Where My House Lives (Nelson) 2.21

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What a long career …