10 Songs, 36 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

You’d think since Willie Nelson has recorded more duets than any other country singer (to date), that his Half Nelson compilation would run deeper than ten songs — but after listening, it's evident this is the cream of his duets crop. Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty” gets the urban cowboy treatment that has somehow aged well — or maybe the wonderful sound here was born in the sharp contrast of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson singing to a disco-era production of Texas-flavored twang. Willie’s duet with Neil Young on “Are There Any More Real Cowboys?” is a real gem in that both singers possess such uniquely characteristic voices that it’s hard to believe there’s room enough for both of them in just one song — until they harmonize together to sound like they could very well be blood-related. The haunting “I Told a Lie to My Heart” features Willie crooning with the late, great Hank Williams under the antiquated crackles and analog hiss of old two-inch tape.

EDITORS’ NOTES

You’d think since Willie Nelson has recorded more duets than any other country singer (to date), that his Half Nelson compilation would run deeper than ten songs — but after listening, it's evident this is the cream of his duets crop. Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty” gets the urban cowboy treatment that has somehow aged well — or maybe the wonderful sound here was born in the sharp contrast of Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson singing to a disco-era production of Texas-flavored twang. Willie’s duet with Neil Young on “Are There Any More Real Cowboys?” is a real gem in that both singers possess such uniquely characteristic voices that it’s hard to believe there’s room enough for both of them in just one song — until they harmonize together to sound like they could very well be blood-related. The haunting “I Told a Lie to My Heart” features Willie crooning with the late, great Hank Williams under the antiquated crackles and analog hiss of old two-inch tape.

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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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