Willie Nelson: One Hell of a Ride
That is certainly an apt description for the life of Willie Hugh Nelson, a country music icon of the last half of the twentieth century. Born in Fort Worth, he eventually made his way to Nashville. He initially got signed as a songwriter, creating hits for artists like Ray Price (“Night Life”), Faron Young (“Hello Walls”), and Patsy Cline (“Crazy”), all of which are included on this album sung by Willie. His success helped earn him a recording contract in 1962. He eventually landed at RCA Records and worked with Chet Atkins who produced him.
On Disc One, the early Willie is on display. It opens with a rarity and one of the first songs he ever recorded. “When I’ve Sang My Last Hillbilly Song” was laid to tape one night in late 1954/early ‘55 at a radio station Willie worked at. The rest of the songs are good and brought Willie moderate success, including “The Party’s Over,” which years later Don Meredith made the unofficial goodnight theme on ABC’s Monday Night Football. The ones that did chart averaged in the twenties on the Billboard Hot Country Singles; however, Atkins’ Nashville Sound made them generic. Willie sounded like everyone else at the time, and this confinement frustrated him.
The remainder of this review can be read at Blogcritics.