The Wanted Outlaw: Willie Nelson in 2014

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Willie Nelson is undoubtedly a country singer. He’s also been a favourite of those of us who prefer rock and roll to country music—as a singer, songwriter, musician, and all around cool dude.  Nelson is not your typical country singer, nor does he go for a country-rock sound to span the borders of musical tastes; in fact, if we are to characterize Nelson’s sound it has to be as Willie Nelson. Willie sounds like Willie, ‘can't mistake him. Band of Brothers, his first album of new material since 1996's Spirit (1998s Teatro being mostly reworked old tunes), is a wonderful album though no album is worth that kind of a gap in this talented mans catalogue.

Band of Brothers has nine new Nelson songs and some covers, for a total of fourteen great tunes. Obviously the new Nelson songs are wonderful to hear and add to the prodigious catalogue, though the cover songs blend in well too. “The Git Go” is one of the best, with Billy Joe Shaver and Jamey Johnson joining Nelson on yet another spiritual number. It’s easy to forget what a theme spirituality is for Nelson until you go back over his old releases.  He’s a complex guy, associated with hippy culture, spirituality, and country music—different things to different fans.

Guitar in the Corner

There are many great new tunes as well, as complex to assess as the rest of Nelson’s songs.  “Bring it On,” the first song on the album, is about the test of life’s odyssey and its challenges and his embrace of that condition. It’s not simple stuff he sings of. The humble little voice and the minimalism of his guitar can be underestimated. It could be interesting to see the 81 year-old Nelson set up in the corner of a legion or corner bar somewhere with himself, guitar, and stool and see if the chatter stops and people listen—sort of what he is addressing in “Guitar in the Corner,” only from a separate point of view.

The New Bar

I imagine the bar would silence and the phones would come out to record rather than text.  Whether it’s great covers like “Whenever You Come Around” or great new Nelson tunes like “I Thought I Left You,” “Send Me a Picture,” “The Wall,” and—most of all—“Band of Brothers,” listeners will hear this as one of Nelson’s best ever.  Not bad for an 81-year-old in the corner with an old guitar that used to play him.  Keep them coming, Willie.

http://willienelson.com/

AH

 
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