Willie Nelson turns 85 (April 29)

It features songs by Paul Simon, Ry Cooder, John Hiatt, Bob Dylan, Lyle Lovett, and Willie Nelson.

Long before I knew who Willie Nelson even was, I was listening to the music he wrote. Pretty Paper was a hit for Roy Orbison in 1963. On The Supremes Sing Country, Western & Pop (1965), they covered Funny How Time Slips Away.

Of course, the big hit was Crazy by Patsy Cline which went to #2 on the Adult Contemporary charts in 1961 and #2 on the country charts early the next year. More significantly for, it hit #9 on the pop charts in 1961, and was covered by Linda Ronstadt (#6 country in 1977).

I don’t know when I was first aware of Nelson as a performer. He was the “outlaw” country star who owed money to the IRS due to bad management and who got arrested several times for marijuana possession.

I do know the first album of his that I bought was Across the Borderline (1993), produced by Don Was, Paul Simon, and Roy Halee. It features songs by Simon, Ry Cooder, John Hiatt, Bob Dylan, Lyle Lovett, and Nelson. It features songs such as Getting Over You, a duet with Bonnie Raitt; and Peter Gabriel’s Don’t Give Up, a duet with Sinead O’Connor.

I thought that his 40th album would be a commercial pop breakthrough. For a while, it was out of print, but it’s currently available as an add-on from Amazon for five bucks.

Subsequently, I got other Nelson albums, including his hit, Red Headed Stranger (1975). I know at least one work colleague who simply cannot stand his voice, but I’ve grown to enjoy it.

Listen to

Crazy – Patsy Cline
Crazy – Willie Nelson
Crazy – Linda Ronstadt

Pretty Paper – Roy Orbison, #10 adult contemporary, #15 pop, #27 on the Christmas singles chart in 1963
Pretty Paper – Willie Nelson, 1964

Funny How Time Slips Away – Willie Nelson
Funny How Time Slips Away – Supremes

She’s Not for You, #43 country in 1965

Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, #1 country, 21 pop in 1975

On the Road Again, #1 country, #7 adult contemporary, #20 pop in 1980

Always on My Mind, #1 country, #2 adult contemporary, #5 in 1985

Still is Still Moving to Me, single that failed to chart in 1993

American Tune, a duet with Simon, #70 pop in 1993

Something You Get Through, 2018

Coverville 1214: The Willie Nelson Cover Story III

Music Throwback: Valentine

Introduce your heart to mine
And be my valentine

willie nelson.across the borderlineOne of my very favorite albums of the 1990s, and indeed in my top 100 or so all time, is Across the Borderline by Willie Nelson, a 1993 release, produced by Don Was, Paul Simon, and Roy Halee. It is filled with a bunch of covers by Paul Simon, John Hiatt, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, Lyle Lovett, plus songs by Willie himself, including Valentine.

It’s a very simple lyric:

Valentine, won’t you be my valentine
And introduce your heart to mine
And be my valentine

Summertime, we could run and play like summertime
With storybooks and nursery rhymes
So be my valentine

Candy heart, if anyone could, you could have a candy heart
You’re the sweetest of all sweethearts
Won’t you give your heart to me, can’t you see

This was not a terribly successful album commercially, getting only to #15 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums, and #75 on the U.S. Billboard Top 200, though it fared better in Norway and Canada, where it was a Top 5 album. It had only one charting single, Graceland, a duet with Paul Simon, that only got to #70 on the country singles charts.

The album was, I thought, out of print for the longest time, but now is currently available on Amazon at a reasonable price. I found that the more I listened to it, the more I enjoyed the collection; it washed over me, emotionally.

Less romantic is Heartland, written and sung by Nelson and Bob Dylan, where an “American dream fell apart at the seams.”

Listen to
Valentine here or here.
Heartland here.

Also, read (and listen to)
Is an ex’s photo worth ten chicken wings?