He’s a well-known outlaw that dons pig tails, a white beard and a guitar. Willie Nelson has been on stage since the ’70s when his personal activism took center stage, and remains a prominent figure in country music today as he tours with Bob Dylan and John Mellencamp this year with a baseball stadium series followed by his own act supporting American Classic. The classic album isn’t just a tribute to his years on stage, but to the last standards set that appeared under Willie’s name – Stardust appeared thirty years ago and was his best seller to date, with a total of five million copies sold.
It largely became identified as the Great American Songbook. A Tin Pan Alley repertoire of songs that continue to justify the title of his Great American Songbook, the set is almost a tribute to the album that earned him mainstream success and a Grammy for Country Male Vocal Performance as the man who led the way to standard recording three decades ago, Bruce Lundvall, was also the honcho at Blue Note to sign the star today.
So when it came time to return to the tunes of the Gershwins, Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael and others like back in the day, it was nothing short of a stumble to create the next Billboard topper. For Willie it’s just another day’s work. “The more songs you know, the most musicians you listen to, the more writers you hear, the better equipped you are to decide where you want to go next. That’s why I want to listen to everyone and everything and then decide which way I want to go. Then, of course, I might change my mind and go in an entirely different direction. But at least I have all these options.”
As his first with Blue Note, American Classic appeared August 25th and features guests spots including Diana Krall and Norah Jones, along with his backing band Mickey Raphael on harmonica, Joe Sample on piano, Christian McBride on bass and Lewis Nash on drums. The American icon has been supporting his tunes since July with twenty-two “Baseball Tour” dates before Southern cities will see a solo stint that should have been his February tour but had to be cancelled due to an unspecified illness. So if you want to join in on this rebel’s fun, catch those Willie Nelson tickets online today.
Though he had been playing the guitar since he was nine years old, it wasn’t until the ’70s after a few years of retirement underneath him that Willie Nelson earned fame for his country licks that incorporated jazz, western swing, rock and folk. Though he had been a prominent songwriter with Pamper Music just a decade earlier, it was the “outlaw country” of Austin that gave Nelson fame, earning him creative control of his music when working with Columbia Records and seeing critical and commercial success, the first of its kind for the genre eventually deemed “outlaw.”
Along with Waylon Jennings, their personas became defined when Nelson’s 1976 album Wanted! The Outlaws appeared with Jennings, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser – as well as country music, as it was the first platinum album for the genre.
Find More Classic Rock Music Articles