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Willie Nelson – You Don’t Know Me: The Songs Of Cindy Walker

Willie’s 54th album. Released nine days before Walker’s death, this is Willie covering her stellar tunes. If you like brilliant songwriting, and you like Willie… and let’s be honest, who doesn’t!… you need this.

Tracks: Bubbles In My Beer / Not That I Care / Take Me In Your Arms & Hold Me / Don’t Be Ashamed Of Your Age / You Don’t Know Me / Sugar Moon / I Don’t Care / Cherokee Maiden / The Warm Red Wine / Miss Molly / Dusty Skies / It’s All Your Fault / I Was Just Walkin’ Out The Door

Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis & Norah Jones – Here We Go Again: Celebrating The Genius Of Ray Charles

I cannot thank BMV enough for this one!!

The 5th Annual Toronto Expedition Series, Part 6 (CD)

Recorded during two shows at the Rose Theater (NYC, 2009-02-9/10), this is a jazz-soaked, fantastic romp through Ray Charles’ incredible songs. The orchestra nails it completely, soloing beautifully all over the place.

Wynton’s huge tone is technical and precise, where Willie is close yet still laidback, and Norah’s soulful… it shouldn’t all work together but it does. They’ve really captured Ray’s spirit of musical inclusivity.

You can absolutely hear how much fun they’re having. I truly loved this stylish disc!


Willie Nelson – Countryman

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 20/25 (Sonic Boom $2.99)

Willie’s first ever reggae album, ten years in the making, folds country into its island beats with ease. Toots Hibbert joins on Johnny and June’s I’m A Worried Man, and Ray Price’s I’ve Just Destroyed The World has panache. Jimmy Cliff’s Harder They Come reverses the country to reggae approach beautifully. Willie’s own tunes fit perfectly, too.

Overall, this is a fantastic record, sunny and warm, full of good feeling and an experimental spirit that doesn’t feel forced at all.


Willie Nelson – The Great Divide

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 19/25 (Sonic Boom $2.99)

Willie’s records should feel like coming home, his voice the welcoming warmth putting everything at ease. But this record, not unlike Santana’s duets stuff, has too many challenges: duets with Rob Thomas, Lee Ann Womack, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow and Brian McKnight push too far into CMT territory. Bonnie Raitt’s better.

Wonky covers of Just Dropped In and Time After Time are curveballs. But when Willie settles down and just lets himself be Willie, things improve greatly. I want that.

Willie Nelson – Without A Song (LP)

I had occasion to be organizing in the Man Cave last night, and dropped the needle on this Willie LP while I worked.

It’s all slow songs, melancholy and forlorn and beautiful. Nobody does aching and yearning like Willie. There’s even a duet with Julio Iglesias. Lots of highlights here, but I’d pick Dreamer’s Holiday for sure.

Two thumbs up for this great album.



Willie Nelson – Stardust

I was sitting here last night, working on the endless updating of my whatownsme list site. The kids were in bed and the house was quiet (for the first time since they hit the ground running early this morning). I was in the mood for mellow, and I plugged in this classic Willie collection. Great choice.

I don’t even need to say a word about Willie Nelson. It’s all been said. But if I had to give my two cents’-worth, I’d simply say that the man RULES.

As for this record, I feel like I’m sort of cheating you by keeping this so short, but all you have to do is look at the track listing (below) and you’ll nod your head, smile, and run to your own collection to put on some Willie and let the night be more than alright.


Stardust * Georgia On My Mind * Blue Skies * All Of Me * Unchained Melody * September Song * On The Sunny Side of The Street * Moonlight In Vermont * Don’t Get Around Much Anymore * Someone To Watch Over Me.


I still have a smile on my face…

Willie Nelson (June 20, 2007)

I have a strategy.

As much as I claim that I don’t mind going to shows by myself, it’s really not that fun.  Mostly, it’s boring.  You’re always going to wind up with time where you’ve got nothing to do but sit around and wait.  I’ve tried bringing a DS or PDA or something so I can kill some time, and that’s worked, but I’m always afraid I’ll run into some security guy who has to be a hero and save the performer from me and my fancy recording device that doesn’t actually record anything (all while ignoring the crowd full of hundreds of camera-equipped cell phones).

So I get bored.  And then I get tired, and work sucks, and it’s been a long day, and I have more stuff to do once I get home, and then I really just want to have a nap, maybe play some video games, nothing big.  A quiet evening.  That’s about how I always feel.

But like I said, I have a strategy, and it is this: buy the concert ticket during the initial moments of enthusiasm.  This is often right when you first hear about the show and you think “ooh, that would be good to see.”  Before all the negative real-world thoughts/pressures/realizations kick in, hop onto and place your order.  Now you HAVE to go, and you’ll probably have a good time once you’re there.

And if you do it quick enough, you can wind up in the second row.  Hooray!

So yeah, when the day rolled around, I didn’t really feel like going to see Willie Nelson, but I’d already bought the ticket (he said, recapping the first few paragraphs).  Willie was playing at the Brandt Centre during the Farm Progress Show.  There were free tickets to said Farm Progress Show floating around my office, and I didn’t take any, since the Willie Nelson ticket would get me in for free.

Now, what I didn’t realize was that the Farm Progress Show shuts down around suppertime, so I didn’t actually get to see much.  All of the displays were closed for the day, so all I saw was a bunch of really big equipment parked around the grounds.  No idea what it was.  I did gather that the basic idea of farming is that you put seeds in the ground, and they grow into foods, and then you harvest the foods.  In that sense, there was no need for a Farm Progress Show as they haven’t made much progress for millennia.

Showed up fairly early.  Wandered the arena and marveled at the crowd.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been the young one at a show, but I was the young one here.  Lots of people dressed as cowboys.  A handful of people in tie-dye.  Nobody I recognized.  I took my seat and killed time by sending out text messages.  Nothing awesome like “sup dick cheese” but I am just not as awesome as some people.

While waiting for the festivities to begin, a stagehand came over and told us about a new deal where you can buy a wristband immediately following the show.  The wristband contains a USB flash drive which, in turn, contains an audio recording of Willie’s entire performance.  I love love love when bands do this (I bought recordings of Pearl Jam and Pixies shows that I’ve been to, and I know Barenaked Ladies does this as well).  It’s as cheap ($25) or cheaper than a t-shirt, and it’s a personalized souvenir of the actual show you actually saw.  I was pretty certain I’d be getting one.

The show was hosted by a guy from a local radio station.  He referred to Regina as “Party Town, Saskatchewan.”  Not saying I know much about partying, but I’ve got this guy beat, I’m certain.  I may have made fun of this guy at casino shows too, I’m not sure.  I seem to enjoy making fun of the emcees.

First band: Shaye.  Remember Kim Stockwood?  You jerk, you jerk, you are such a jerk, there are other words but they just don’t work?  If you ever wondered where she ended up, well, now you know.  She’s in a band with Dahmnait Doyle and Tara MacLean.  I’d check the spellings but it’s super late, and the show was already a week ago, and I promised to post this review two nights ago, but then the Chris Benoit thing happened and so I had to watch a lot of TV and read a lot of internet instead, which I think is understandable, but I risk disappointing people on this Willie Nelson blog I’ve been checking out and they seem like good people so I don’t want to do that.  Anyway, Shaye.  I liked’em.  I wasn’t blown away, but I liked’em.

In a neat note, Stuart Cameron – former Crash Test Dummies touring guitarist – was playing guitar with Shaye.  After their set, the three ladies were selling CDs and signing autographs at the stuff table.  Despite being far, far away from the stuff table, I was tempted to go meet with them to see if Cameron was around.  Over time, I’ve met most of the main friends of the Dummies – at least the ones who were around while I was running their site – but I haven’t ever met Stuart Cameron.  Though I did hold open a door for him once back when I didn’t know who he was.  Anyway, a guy from work told me that while the band was there, the guitarist (and drummer) were not, so I guess it doesn’t matter that I didn’t go.

Next band: 40 Points.  As I was leaving the show, I overheard a guy discussing the lead singer from 40 Points.  “The guy was just an amazing guitarist but his voice was driving me insane – and then he came out later to sing with Dad and it all made sense.”  I heard this sentiment expressed a lot, actually.  Felt it, too.  You know how Jakob Dylan’s voice has a touch of Bob Dylan in it?  Well, Willie Nelson’s son sounds a LOT like Willie.  Or someone doing an impression of Willie.  Which is not to say that these guys weren’t good, but they weren’t my thing.  Not sure why, even.  Willie Nelson is my thing, but someone who sounds a lot like Willie Nelson is not my thing?  Fickle man.

During the breaks in between sets, I sent more text messages.  I quit getting responses, though.  Not everyone is as interested in entertaining me as I am.

Finally, Willie Nelson and his band took the stage.

Have you ever noticed that I always say “finally” when the headliner shows up?  It’s this thing I do, I think.

Anyway.  What can you say about a legend?  It’s Willie Nelson.  You know what you’re going to get, and you know before you ever buy the ticket whether you’re going to enjoy the show or not.  And I did enjoy the show, and the rest of the crowd – which, incidentally, appeared to be close to sold out – did as well.  He played lots of old favourites – to be honest, I’m not really super familiar with Willie Nelson, which is heresy, I know – so if I knew most of the songs, they had to be true classics.  He also played some new songs from his upcoming album – I know this, because he was nice and said so – and I liked those as well.  A good time.  I’d go back.

A brief review, but like I said – real tired here.

On the way out, I bought the wristband.  Their system is pretty slick – they can have thousands of wristbands with them, but they only need to “load” as many as required to meet demand.  There’s no risk that they will be left with hundreds of unsold wristbands at any individual show.

The show arrived as one 100 MB MP3, so I hacked mine into individual tracks for convenience’s sake.  Here’s how I broke them up – I’m sure the Willie Nelson blog people will tell me if I got any of the titles wrong.  Anyone know the title of the Django Reinhardt song?  ‘Cause I sure don’t.

01. Whiskey River
02. Still Is Still Moving To Me
03. Funny How Time Slips Away
04. Crazy
05. Night Life
06. Down Yonder
07. The Working Man Blues
08. Me And Paul
09. Texas Flood
10. There Are No Words
11. Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys
12. Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground
13. On The Road Again
14. Always On My Mind
15. something by Django Reinhardt
16. Good Hearted Woman
17. Georgia On My Mind
18. Pancho And Lefty
19. I’m Not Superman
20. You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore
21. not the encore break
22. I Gotta Get Over You Again
23. Moment Of Forever
24. May The Circle Be Unbroken
25. outro

And now my internet is down so I can’t even post this.  That’s what I get for taking forever.

– Sunday, July 1 – The White Stripes (w/Dan Sartain) – Saskatoon, TCU Place
– Thursday, July 26 – “Weird Al” Yankovic – Saskatoon, Credit Union Centre
– August 10-13 – Regina Folk Festival (w/Blue Rodeo, Bruce Cockburn, Buck 65, Cuff The Duke, Hylozoists, Amy Millan, Sarah Slean, City and Colour, many more)
– Monday, August 27 – Queens of the Stone Age – Saskatoon, Prairieland

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