10 Songs, 32 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Cover photograph of his 1971 album is one of the essential images in Willie Nelson’s career. Gathered around an evening campfire on the grounds of Nelson’s ranch in Ridgetop, Tennessee, are a coterie of friends, neighborhoods, kids, and freaky musicians. Nelson aficionados should be able to spot drummer Paul English in his trademark cape and Mephistophelean mustache, and stone-faced bassist Bee Spears in what appears to be a huge furry diaper. Though it would be a few years before these touring pals started appearing on Nelson’s records, Willie Nelson & Family signifies the artist’s expanding repertoire. Covers of Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” and James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” prove that Nelson made no distinction between up-and-comers and hallowed veterans like Hank Williams (“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”) and Harlan Howard (“Yours Love”). What matters to Willie, always, is the song. The Nashville studio band seems tame compared to the spirit of the cover photo, but the brilliant Nelson original “I’m a Memory” shows some guts in its climaxing blend of horns, strings, and acoustic guitar.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Cover photograph of his 1971 album is one of the essential images in Willie Nelson’s career. Gathered around an evening campfire on the grounds of Nelson’s ranch in Ridgetop, Tennessee, are a coterie of friends, neighborhoods, kids, and freaky musicians. Nelson aficionados should be able to spot drummer Paul English in his trademark cape and Mephistophelean mustache, and stone-faced bassist Bee Spears in what appears to be a huge furry diaper. Though it would be a few years before these touring pals started appearing on Nelson’s records, Willie Nelson & Family signifies the artist’s expanding repertoire. Covers of Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” and James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” prove that Nelson made no distinction between up-and-comers and hallowed veterans like Hank Williams (“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”) and Harlan Howard (“Yours Love”). What matters to Willie, always, is the song. The Nashville studio band seems tame compared to the spirit of the cover photo, but the brilliant Nelson original “I’m a Memory” shows some guts in its climaxing blend of horns, strings, and acoustic guitar.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.6 out of 5
5 Ratings

5 Ratings

CashFan93 ,

GREAT!

Willie nails these songs. I'm so lonesome i could cry is amazing. Kris Kristofferson's Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down is truly awesome. Get these songs!

JA Hopson ,

The Austin Outlaw Beginning to Surface...

In the canon of Willie text, there was a point when the dove descended from Heaven and lit upon him and the voice of Bob Wills saiad "This is my son in whom am I am pleased...", or domething like that. Here, it is evident that the Red Headed Stranger was a germination in the mind of Abbott, TX's most famous son. The more familiar vibrato that became his trademark was evident, the experimentation with pop songs he felt deserved a broader exposure, and the very untraditional Nashville arrangements were all rearing and preparing to take full charge. This is an important album for Willie fans and country music historians in that it is the first stirrings of the Willie we all came to know and love just four years later when the classic "Red Headed Stranger" was released upon the world.

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