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Songbird

Willie Nelson

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iTunes Editors’ Notes

At this point, Willie Nelson is an American institution. His long, admirable career is chockfull of historic, musical moments which have proven that his signature sound — that delicate, wavering vibrato — can be adapted to just about any genre. For Songbird, Nelson teams up with alt.country poster boy Ryan Adams and his backing group, the Cardinals, for a collection of covers, remakes and two originals — one penned by Nelson (“Back to Earth”), one by Adams (“Blue Hotel”) — written specifically for the project. Nelson’s natural, laconic delivery is like a lazy river that reaches its destination in its own sweet time, and with the able backing support of Jon Graboff’s pedal steel guitar, he's immediately right at home. He’s a natural fit for Leonard Cohen’s universal hymn, “Hallelujah,” and Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter’s “Stella Blue” has Nelson’s spiritual vibe written all over it. The challenges are even more interesting. Gram Parsons’ “$1,000 Wedding” is a sad-eyed mini-epic that Nelson sings with all the sorrow and irony intact, while Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird” reveals its previously obscured country soul.

Customer Reviews

This is as much of a Ryan Adams album as it is Willie's

I am a big fan of Ryan Adams and have listened to Willie Nelson since the late 70's. They are both "spotty" artists, with as many "hits" as "misses." I love Willie's singing voice and his guitar playing. I can't say I'm much of a fan of his normal backing band, a/k/a "the Family." Their sound is routine and tired. I like this album because it provides Willie with a new sound, (i.e., a more rock and roll and alt. country vibe). If you want Willie singing quiet songs accompanied by his guitar, this is not an album for you. But if you want an album that takes Willie a little out of his comfort zone and challenges him and the listener, you will appreciate this. This isn't the "second coming" of Willie Nelson (ala Bob Dylan's Modern Times) but at this stage of his career, it is solid craftsmanship and a good listen.

Thank G-D for Willie Nelson

I am not the biggest fan of country music, but my two favorite artists of all time are Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. With that being said... This album is by far one of Willy's best. He's come a long way from the days of "To All The Girls I Loved Before" and "On The Road Again". This album is a bit more dark and slower than previous albums that Willie has done. What makes the album even more special is that he used Ryan Adams and his backing band to help him out on this one. And just like the last Johnny Cash album this one also includes some unbelievable covers. Check out his Grateful Dead cover of "$1000 Wedding" to start and follow with "Rainy Day Blues" and the amazing cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". Definitely don't pass this one up.

In the end there's just a song

As everyone knows, Willie Nelson's new album was produced by Ryan Adams and backed by the Cardinals. The most notable covers are Eva Cassidy's "Songbird," Grateful Dead's "Stella Blue," and Gram Parson's "$1000 Wedding." Though Ryan Adams has many different sounds, on this album he chose to add gritty electric guitars to acoustic arrangements. On some tracks it can be slightly off-putting (though maybe this was intended), but for the most part it adds intriguing dynamics to the album, as well as an element of emotional duality. If you listen closely to the lyrics of these carefully chosen songs, you can't help but imagine a man in the twilight of his life standing in the front yard of a country church debating whether to go in and make peace with his God or to run and spend his last days on the road. And even though the album ends with Amazing Grace, we all know what Willie is going to do. All in all, this is a highly recommended album.

Biography

Born: April 30, 1933 in Fort Worth, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As a songwriter and a performer, Willie Nelson played a vital role in post-rock & roll country music. Although he didn't become a star until the mid-'70s, Nelson spent the '60s writing songs that became hits for stars like Ray Price ("Night Life"), Patsy Cline ("Crazy"), Faron Young ("Hello Walls"), and Billy Walker ("Funny How Time Slips Away") as well as releasing a series of records on Liberty and RCA that earned him a small but devoted cult following. During the early '70s, Willie aligned...
Full Bio