14 Songs, 58 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Nearing 80 years old, Willie Nelson is at an interesting juncture in his career. He's earned the right to make country music the way he remembers it—with a lilting Texas swing in its step—and he does. Nelson was also the great country artist who never let genres stop him. His Stardust collection made the crossover from country to pop standards feel as natural as breathing. So it really shouldn't be that much of a surprise when Nelson invites his son, Lukas, to sing on the majority of the record (he deserves co-billing), or when he enlists the help of Snoop Dogg and Kris Kristofferson to croon on "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die." Nelson the songwriter and Nelson the interpreter have made him Nelson the legend. No matter who's joining him here or whose song it is, the performances stand on their own; Coldplay's "The Scientist" and Eddie Vedder's "Just Breathe" become every bit Nelson tunes. Fiddles, acoustic guitars, and pedal steel all combine with that iconic voice to make a classic country album. 

EDITORS’ NOTES

Nearing 80 years old, Willie Nelson is at an interesting juncture in his career. He's earned the right to make country music the way he remembers it—with a lilting Texas swing in its step—and he does. Nelson was also the great country artist who never let genres stop him. His Stardust collection made the crossover from country to pop standards feel as natural as breathing. So it really shouldn't be that much of a surprise when Nelson invites his son, Lukas, to sing on the majority of the record (he deserves co-billing), or when he enlists the help of Snoop Dogg and Kris Kristofferson to croon on "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die." Nelson the songwriter and Nelson the interpreter have made him Nelson the legend. No matter who's joining him here or whose song it is, the performances stand on their own; Coldplay's "The Scientist" and Eddie Vedder's "Just Breathe" become every bit Nelson tunes. Fiddles, acoustic guitars, and pedal steel all combine with that iconic voice to make a classic country album. 

TITLE TIME
14

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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