Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Good 'ol Willie

I'm not a country music fan - it just doesn't float my boat. What that means though, is I've been mostly ignorant to the awesome power that is Willie Nelson. I knew the basic pop culture osmosis stuff about Nelson, knew "Always on My Mind," "On the Road Again," the pot. I also had fond, if distant and hazy, memories, of listening to the Willie Nelson Christmas album as a kid. But in the last few months I've started to develop a real appreciation for Nelson's voice, and his supremely deceptive way of singing so simply and yet with so much emotion . From that, I've developed an addictive habit - finding Willie Nelson doing covers of songs I like.

It all started with the discovery of his expectations-shattering, moody take on "The Rainbow Connection." I wrote about that one here.

Since then, I've discovered a few others, including:

  • A good, if a little too modern-sounding, take on Dave Matthews solo "Gravedigger.

  • A wonderfully lived-in rendition of Bob Dylan's "What Was It You Wanted?"

  • An older, near-operatic take on Procol Harem's "Whiter Shade of Pale." This song, in particular, clued me in to how strong a singer Nelson was - his most recent stuff shows his voice's age, but back in the day he could belt a clear, powerful tone like a more laid-back Roy Orbison

  • A serene and softly expansive take on Elvis Presley's "Blue Hawaii"

So that's the new game. Hunting Willie Nelson doing covers. Anyone have any offerings?

Until Whenever


bill said...

Nope, No Willie Nelson. I don't do country. However, if you want covers of Willie Nelson (and Kris Kristoferson [sp?] and others), my recommendation is The Little Willies. One of my favorite CDs from a couple years ago.

bill said...

off-topic: how do you like Sia? I saw her in concert back in March. Didn't know who she was and was there for the opening act of Har Mar Superstar.

She was very good. When she spoke she had this giggly, little girl voice; then when she sang it was all power and she stunned me with her intensity. The CD is a nice listen, but lacks the qualities that made me buy it. Hearing these songs on the radio without the concert experience, I'm not sure I'd be interested in the CD.

Tosy And Cosh said...

I got the CD because it was on sale at Starbucks at a below-iTunes price (7.95), and because I really liked the one song I knew, "Academia." I actually like it quite a bot, for the same reason you cite - her voice is disarmingly powerful and soulful, with real strength behind it (qualities "Academia" hinted at but didn't really display.) SHe remindes me of a moure soulful, less reserved Aimee Mann.

Roger Owen Green said...

Across the Borderline
1. American Tune (Paul Simon)
2. Getting over You
3. Most Unoriginal Sin
4. Don't Give Up - Willie Nelson, Sinéad O'Connor (Peter Gabriel)
5. Heartland
6. Across the Borderline
7. Graceland (Paul Simon)
8. Farther Down the Line
9. Valentine
10. What Was It You Wanted?
11. I Love the Life I Live
12. If I Were the Man You Wanted
13. She's Not for You
14. Still Is Still Moving to Me
There's a couple Lyle Lovett songs and a Dylan in there you might recognize. I have it. Amazon has it only used for sale (albeit cheaply) so I suspect that it's out of print. Someone should send you a copy, maybe someone who participated in Lefty's last exchange and therfore stiill has your address. But not naming names; don't want to get someone in trouble.

Tosy And Cosh said...

Should someone do so, someone would have my utmost appreciation! But someone would have to get something in return.

Roger Owen Green said...

Oh, dear. Someone has the list that has your name sans address. Could that be rectified?