12 Songs, 45 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Willie Nelson has never let the “rules” of popular music get in the way. Even when singing “traditional” country-western songs, Nelson has infused elements of jazz, under the guise of Texas-bred Western swing, and often played with phrasings as if he were a nightclub act. He has both played “pure” country and sweetened it with strings, and expanded its definition to include pop standards. American Classic, like 1978’s Stardust and 1994’s Healing Hands of Time, wanders from his country origins into the world of nightclub jazz, featuring a group of top-notch studio jazz musicians and duets with Norah Jones (“Baby It’s Cold Outside”) and Diana Krall (“If I Had You”). Nelson’s laid-back delivery is a natural fit for material such as “The Nearness of You,” “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “Since I Fell For You,” so much so it's mostly surprising that he hasn’t always featured this material in his repertoire. Nelson may have made his reputation as an “outlaw,” but he’s nevertheless become an American institution.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Willie Nelson has never let the “rules” of popular music get in the way. Even when singing “traditional” country-western songs, Nelson has infused elements of jazz, under the guise of Texas-bred Western swing, and often played with phrasings as if he were a nightclub act. He has both played “pure” country and sweetened it with strings, and expanded its definition to include pop standards. American Classic, like 1978’s Stardust and 1994’s Healing Hands of Time, wanders from his country origins into the world of nightclub jazz, featuring a group of top-notch studio jazz musicians and duets with Norah Jones (“Baby It’s Cold Outside”) and Diana Krall (“If I Had You”). Nelson’s laid-back delivery is a natural fit for material such as “The Nearness of You,” “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “Since I Fell For You,” so much so it's mostly surprising that he hasn’t always featured this material in his repertoire. Nelson may have made his reputation as an “outlaw,” but he’s nevertheless become an American institution.

TITLE TIME

More By Willie Nelson