Willie Nelson – Country Music

January 01, 1970







Willie Nelson’s records have never been actually
bad; but they have been uneven. But it’s for sure that Country Music is a return to form even if it’s one from which he
has never really strayed all that far. Like his contemporary Merle Haggard has
done with the recent “I Am What I Am”, Willie has released his best album in
years, maybe decades. While Haggard always defiantly walked his own
path, Willie has never been all that averse to milking a trend and it’s been a
while since he’s come up with something with the depth of the Red Headed Stranger album. But Country Music is definite proof of the
enormity of his capabilities.


Rather than squeezing the last few drops of the
long and thankfully dead Outlaw craze or going back to the well for another
album of easy listening standards, Country
with absolutely perfect hands off production from T-Bone Burnett, is full
of the kind of music Willie would likely have been playing or more important,
listening to when the bus is pulled over on a Texas highway in the middle of
the night and the rest of the crew is catching some winks. Like the Rick Rubin
produced “American Recordings” of Johnny Cash, Country Music represents the songs and styles that made Willie
Nelson the artist he is. The music here is invested with the love and emotion
of a devotee which makes it all the more appealing to those who feel athat way
about Willie and also to anyone who can appreciate an artist working in his
emotional and creative home.


Hazel Howard’s “My Baby’s Gone” a big country hit
for the Louvin Brothers in 1960 with its combination of Riley Baugus’ banjo,
Russell Pahl’s pedal steel, Stuart Duncan’s fiddle and Nelson’s gut string
acoustic guitar is tantamount to perfection. It is the exemplar of everything
that is right about the album. “My Baby’s Gone” along with the version of Joe
“Red” Hayes’ “A Satisfied Mind” (sans the “A” here) and the Ray Price-George
Jones composition “You Done Me Wrong” (which features masterful electric guitar
from Buddy Miller) are the definitive cuts on Country Music and reason enough to make it a part of your
collection whether it is your first Willie Nelson or merely the latest.


“My Baby’s Gone,” “Ocean
Of Diamonds” RICK ALLEN


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