Willie Nelson's new album of pop standards, penned by America's legendary songwriting duo George and Ira Gershwin, follows the selection of Willie as the 2015 recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Among the 11 Gershwin classics recorded by Willie Nelson for his new album are two duets: "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off" with Cyndi Lauper (the song was originally introduced by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1937 film Shall We Dance) and "Embraceable You" with Sheryl Crow (the song was performed by Ginger Rogers in Girl Crazy, recorded by Billie Holiday in 1944 and inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2005).
Live and Kickin' is a 2003 live album by Willie Nelson, featuring music stars of diverse genres like Eric Clapton, Shania Twain, Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, Norah Jones, Ray Charles, Steven Tyler, Wyclef Jean, ZZ Top, Paul Simon.
This CD commemorates Willie Nelson's 70th Birthday (April 30, 2003).
The catalog of Willie Nelson is so vast and rich that assembling an "essential" collection of only one or two discs seems nearly impossible. RCA's single-disc 1995 attempt was admirable and worthy, but doomed by space limitations. With a bit more room to move, Legacy's roomier two-disc collection is about close as anyone could hope to come. We get the full view of the great singer/songwriter's artistic journey.
"Hello Walls" and the evergreen "Crazy" hail from the days when Nelson was tooling around Nashville as a songwriter for hire but mystifyingly unable to connect as a solo artist. His transformation into a counterculture icon via the '70s "outlaw country" movement is marked by the likes of "Me and Paul" and "Bloody Mary Morning." His tremendous skill as in interpreter can be heard in such standards as "Blue Skies" and "Georgia on Mind," which helped make him a crossover success in the STARDUST era. Latter-day collaborations with everyone from Aerosmith ("One Time Too Many") to U2 ("Slow Dancing") show Willie's mercurial, eclectic nature. Add it all up and a portrait comes together of a man whose artistic vision has carried him across decades and stylistic shifts aplenty and seen him through in style.
Recorded between 1961 & 2002.
TWO MEN WITH THE BLUES brings out both the jazziness that's long been a key element of Willie Nelson's sound (his standards album, STARDUST, remains one of his most acclaimed efforts) and the New Orleans-tinged, Louis Armstrong-esque bluesiness that's at the core of almost everything Wynton Marsalis has ever done (not counting that classical album!). Marsalis blows blistering, gutsy solos on Nelson's own classic tune "Night Life," and Willie sounds completely at home delivering a low-key version of the New Orleans jazz standard "Basin Street Blues." A version of the Ray Charles signature song "Georgia on My Mind" highlights the jazz-savvy chordal movement and country/blues base of the timeless composition. TWO MEN WITH THE BLUES is a successful sonic summit meeting, but the two camps represented were never truly that far apart to begin with.
The genius of their first special was how it favored neither man's immediate, obvious specialty: Nelson is, of course, a country music icon, while Marsalis is one of the nation's foremost jazzmen, but for that show, they met in the middle and played some blues. This time, in taking on the Charles songbook, they allow themselves to hopscotch all over the melodic map, as he did. Charles was, of course, the "genius of soul," but he was also a musical journeyman who experimented in pop, blues, jazz, and country (most famously on his classic Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music albums). And they don't restrict themselves to Charles' own compositions, just songs he performed throughout his career.