Willie Nelson Meets Marty Dread, Announces New Album

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As reported by Still is Still Moving (the premier Willie Nelson fan blog), our hero has hooked up with Marty Dread, a Maui-based reggae artist on behalf of the family farmer. The song is available for purchase at the Willie Nelson Peace Research Institute here.

“Farmers” – Marty Dread with Willie Nelson

If you would like more info about helping farmers, please visit FarmAid.org.

In other Willie news, Rounder has announced it will release Country Music on April 20. This is Willie’s collaboration with the smoking hot T Bone Burnett. What a run hit has been for him over the past ten years! On this momentous recording, only the finest musicians and the most meticulously chosen songs were employed.

“This is my definition of real country music,” says the man.


T Bone Burnett-Produced Album Completes Three Decade Journey

Burlington, MA – The title is deceptively simple: Country Music. The concept, likewise, seems quite familiar: An American musical icon dipping into the country music songbook to record fresh versions of timeless classics.”

Of course, the fact that Nelson set the standard for this type of collection more than 30 years ago might give pause. As might the realization that, in all the intervening years, he’s never quite taken the approach with the music that is the bedrock upon which he built his career. And then there’s this, straight from the man himself: “This is my definition of real country music.”

In 1978, Willie Nelson released a collection of re-imagined pop standards by composers including Carmichael, Berlin, Ellington and Gershwin called Stardust. An almost absurd idea as a commercial venture, the album became the most successful of Nelson’s career to date, reaching No. 1 on the country chart, earning multi-platinum sales awards and a Grammy®. More importantly, it was the beginning of a 30-year musical journey that has cemented Willie’s place as an unbounded American music maker.

Since Stardust, Nelson has much more than blurred the lines between this hemisphere’s foremost genres – he’s glided effortlessly over, around and back again as if they never existed at all. In the past decade alone he’s covered blues (Milk Cow Blues, 2000), reggae (Countryman, 2005), jazz (Two Men With The Blues with Wynton Marsalis, 2008), Western swing (Willie And The Wheel with Asleep At The Wheel, 2009) and most recently revisited the pop and jazz centered approach of Stardust (American Classic, 2009). With Country Music, he and celebrated producer T Bone Burnett have taken a wide angle view of the genre around which the rest of Nelson’s efforts have revolved.

“I’ve known T Bone for years, but never worked with him before,” Willie says. “He sent me a list of 28 songs he’d thought about for this album and I added “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” We recorded 23 and picked 15 out of that to release.”

Nelson has never been one to struggle over songs or recordings. And that direct approach applied here, as well. “You hear a song and ask if it belongs on the album or not,” he says. “I had never heard “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down” before, but when I did I thought there’s a great song and it’s got to be on the album. I thought I knew every Bob Wills song there was, but I didn’t know “Gotta Walk Alone.” The Bill Mack song “Drinking Champagne” is just a great song. You kind of start there and see what happens when you get to the studio. We did cut a couple of them twice. We cut the Ernest Tubb classic “Seaman’s Blues” twice just to see if we could get a little better cut on it.”

Appropriately, Country Music was recorded in Nashville with an A-list band picked by Burnett. “The best people around,” Willie says of a group that included Ronnie McCoury on mandolin, Jim Lauderdale on background vocals and Buddy Miller on electric guitar.

“There is a great feeling of freedom when you sit in a studio surrounded by seven, eight, ten musicians and producers and engineers who are the best there are and you’re playing good songs,” he continues. “Naturally, I feel fairly confident in that situation. It doesn’t matter where I look and point, I know whether it’s the steel or the fiddle or the mandolin, I’m going to get a great solo from those guys because they play great all the time. It was a huge experience for me.

“I believe in first takes, definitely second or third takes,” he adds. “Anything longer than that I think you’re wasting your time. If a guy knows the material and the band knows the song and you do it three times then everyone should be satisfied.”

And Nelson says he’s more than satisfied with this new collection. “There are so many great songs in every category – pop, country, bluegrass, whatever. There are a lot of great standards to choose from. Fortunately I’ve lived long enough to know them all, I think. I just love singing those songs.”

“You hear all kinds of ideas about country music: This is country, or this is, or that was and this ain’t. And it’s all a matter of opinion. But in my opinion, this is the original country music. So I’m really excited for people to hear it.”

“It really sounds like I’m talking about Stardust, because when I was promoting that album I was saying the same thing,” Willie concludes. “There are a lot of young people out there who have never heard these songs, and a lot of the older folks like myself haven’t heard them in a long time. It’s the same idea – great old standards that people are either going to recognize or love for the first time.”

This is Willie Nelson’s Country Music. And it ought to be yours.

Willie Nelson “Country Music”
Track Listing:
1. Man With The Blues
2. Seaman’s Blues
3. Dark As A Dungeon
4. Gotta Walk Alone
5. Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down
6. My Baby’s Gone
7. Freight Train Boogie
8. Satisfied Mind
9. You Done Me Wrong
10. Pistol Packin’ Mama
11. Ocean Of Diamonds
12. Drinking Champagne
13. I Am A Pilgrim
14. House Of Gold
15. Nobody’s Fault But Mine”

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