10 Songs, 33 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

In 1982 Willie Nelson opened a new chapter in his career as a master interpreter with Always On My Mind. With understated, almost-invisible production by Chips Moman, the album focuses on pop and soul ballads from the post-rock ‘n’ roll era. Witness Nelson’s unique approach to the show-stopping R&B ballads “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” and “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” While these songs typically require a male singer to belt it out, Willie uses a voice that is both sly and restrained — a perfect example of the softer blow making a greater impact. “Always On My Mind” had been a smash just three years earlier for John Wesley Ryles, and before that, for Elvis Presley in 1972. Nonetheless, Nelson repossessed it and made the song completely his. His wistfulness and regretful, heartfelt delivery complemented the song’s dramatic arrangement, and it spent 21 weeks on the charts. It's one of Willie’s career performances, but don’t allow it to overshadow the outstanding “Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning,” which is hidden at the end of the album.

EDITORS’ NOTES

In 1982 Willie Nelson opened a new chapter in his career as a master interpreter with Always On My Mind. With understated, almost-invisible production by Chips Moman, the album focuses on pop and soul ballads from the post-rock ‘n’ roll era. Witness Nelson’s unique approach to the show-stopping R&B ballads “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” and “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” While these songs typically require a male singer to belt it out, Willie uses a voice that is both sly and restrained — a perfect example of the softer blow making a greater impact. “Always On My Mind” had been a smash just three years earlier for John Wesley Ryles, and before that, for Elvis Presley in 1972. Nonetheless, Nelson repossessed it and made the song completely his. His wistfulness and regretful, heartfelt delivery complemented the song’s dramatic arrangement, and it spent 21 weeks on the charts. It's one of Willie’s career performances, but don’t allow it to overshadow the outstanding “Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning,” which is hidden at the end of the album.

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About Willie Nelson

Even before he became the Red Headed Stranger, Willie Nelson was already a Nashville songwriting legend, providing Patsy Cline with her 1961 signature tune, “Crazy.” But as a fledgling performer in his own right, the clean-cut honky-tonker’s humble approach and conversational croon was increasingly at odds with mainstream country music’s tilt toward variety-show glitz. Upon joining the post-hippie roots-music radicals taking over the Austin scene (and swearing off barbers forevermore), the Texas-born Nelson became an icon of the ’70s outlaw-country movement, favoring a stripped-down style that could both evoke desert-highway vistas (“On the Road Again”) and initiate the most intimate of conversations (“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”). But Nelson’s brand of down-home simplicity shouldn’t be confused with dogmatic purism (he’s also no stranger to adult-contemporary crossovers, like his duet with Julio Iglesias, “To All the Girls I've Loved Before”). Rather, he’s always searching for the most direct route to the soul of a song, whether he’s elevating the country standard “Always on My Mind” to the realm of modern hymn, or bringing a wistful, lived-in wisdom to Great American Songbook perennials like “Georgia on My Mind.” In the 21st century, Nelson’s outlaw ethos has continued to manifest itself in all sorts of surprising ways: He’s become America’s most visible pro-marijuana activist and Snoop Dogg’s unlikeliest duet partner.

HOMETOWN
Abbott, TX
GENRE
Country
BORN
April 29, 1933

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