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Willie Nelson|A Beautiful Time

A Beautiful Time

Willie Nelson

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After Willie Nelson's fragile appearance at the 2019 CMA Awards, duetting with Kacey Musgraves on a heart-wrenching version of "The Rainbow Connection," it wouldn't have come as a shock if the legend hadn't recorded another album. But Nelson, at 89, is on a prolific roll. He released two albums in 2021, as well as duets with Karen O and Michael McDonald, and performed at Farm Aid. He has a slew of tour dates on the calendar for 2022, to promote A Beautiful Time, his 72nd studio album. It's not always an easy listen, but it's an important one. Like Johnny Cash's American IV, you are enveloped by the sense of mortality. Written by Nelson, "I Don't Go to Funerals" has the feel of an outlaw classic and finds him humorously stubborn but also hopeful. "I don't go to funerals/ And I won't be at mine," he sings. Instead he plans to be "at a big old pickin' party" in the sky, alongside Waylon (Jennings), John (Cash), Merle (Haggard), Kris (presumably Kristofferson, who isn't dead yet) and "our sweetheart Patsy Cline." "Dusty Bottles" is a slow burn that lets Nelson's ragged voice play to its advantage: “Dusty bottles pour a finer glass of wine/ An old beat-up guitar just sounds better/ And wisdom only comes with time." "Live every day like it was your last one," he offers on "Live Every Day," "and one day you're gonna be right." Even though they're not all by him, the choice of songs says something about what's on Nelson's mind. It's a gentle record, with the music never getting in the way of letting Willie be Willie, even when he sounds particularly fragile on "I'll Love You Till the Day I Die," a romantic number written by Chris Stapleton and Rodney Crowell. (Throughout, longtime band member Mickey Raphael's harmonica is like a call from the past.) Nelson sounds strongest on "Energy Follows Thought," a stark and moving number delivered by a man who fought to find his place in Nashville (and who eventually gave up on that city to write his own rules). "Be careful what you ask for/ Make sure it's really what you want/ Because your mind is made for thinking/ And energy follows thought." It's a hoot to hear Nelson modestly purr a slinky cover of Leonard Cohen's "Tower of Song," including the line: "I said to Hank Williams, 'How lonely does it get?'/ Hank Williams hasn't answered me yet/ But I hear him coughing all night long/ About 100 floors above me in the tower of song." There's also a cover of "With a Little Help from My Friends," with Nelson's voice reaching up so sweetly on the bridge, it's like sunshine breaking through the clouds. The album closer, "Leave You With a Smile," is a weepie, "I just want to leave you with a smile/ Even though that hasn't always been my style/ I messed up best intentions/ But I've loved you all the while ... If I run out of time/ I'll wait for you in the sweet by-and-by." © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz

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A Beautiful Time

Willie Nelson

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1
I'll Love You Till The Day I Die
00:04:11

Rodney Crowell, Composer, Lyricist - Bobby Terry, Acoustic Guitar, Steel Guitar - Willie Nelson, Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Chris Stapleton, Composer, Lyricist - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Jim "Moose" Brown, Organ, Piano - BUDDY CANNON, Producer - James Mitchell, Electric Guitar - Tony Castle, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Barry Bales, Acoustic Bass - Fred Eltringham, Drums, Percussion

(P) 2022 Sony Music Entertainment

2
My Heart Was A Dancer
00:03:11

Bobby Terry, Acoustic Guitar - Willie Nelson, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano - BUDDY CANNON, Composer, Lyricist, Producer - James Mitchell, Electric Guitar - Tony Castle, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Barry Bales, Acoustic Bass - Fred Eltringham, Drums, Percussion

(P) 2022 Sony Music Entertainment

3
Energy Follows Thought
00:03:17

Bobby Terry, Electric Guitar - Willie Nelson, Composer, Lyricist, Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano, Synthesizer - BUDDY CANNON, Composer, Lyricist, Producer - James Mitchell, Electric Guitar - Tony Castle, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Barry Bales, Acoustic Bass - Fred Eltringham, Drums, Percussion

(P) 2022 Sony Music Entertainment

4
Dreamin' Again
00:03:56

Bobby Terry, Acoustic Guitar - Willie Nelson, Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano - BUDDY CANNON, Producer - James Mitchell, Electric Guitar - Jack Wesley Routh, Composer, Lyricist - Melonie Cannon, Background Vocal - Tony Castle, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Barry Bales, Acoustic Bass - Fred Eltringham, Drums, Percussion - Douglas Graham, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2022 Sony Music Entertainment

5
I Don't Go To Funerals
00:02:27

Bobby Terry, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Steel Guitar - Willie Nelson, Composer, Lyricist, Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano - BUDDY CANNON, Composer, Lyricist, Producer - James Mitchell, Electric Guitar - Tony Castle, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Barry Bales, Acoustic Bass - Fred Eltringham, Drums, Percussion

(P) 2022 Sony Music Entertainment

6
A Beautiful Time
00:04:56

Shawn Camp, Composer, Lyricist - Bobby Terry, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar - Willie Nelson, Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Chad Cromwell, Drums - BUDDY CANNON, Producer - Mike Johnson, Steel Guitar - Melonie Cannon, Background Vocal - Tony Castle, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, Acoustic Bass - Catherine Marx, Organ

(P) 2022 Sony Music Entertainment

7
We're Not Happy (Till You're Not Happy)
00:03:16

Shawn Camp, Composer, Lyricist - Bobby Terry, Acoustic Guitar, Steel Guitar - Willie Nelson, Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano - BUDDY CANNON, Producer, Background Vocal - James Mitchell, Electric Guitar - Melonie Cannon, Background Vocal - Tony Castle, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Fred Eltringham, Drums, Percussion - Charles R. Humphrey III, Composer, Lyricist - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, Acoustic Bass

(P) 2022 Sony Music Entertainment

8
Dusty Bottles
00:03:30

Bobby Terry, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Steel Guitar - Willie Nelson, Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Don Sampson, Composer, Lyricist - Jim "Moose" Brown, Composer, Lyricist, Organ - Scotty Emerick, Composer, Lyricist - BUDDY CANNON, Producer - James Mitchell, Electric Guitar - Tony Castle, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Barry Bales, Acoustic Bass - Fred Eltringham, Drums

(P) 2022 Sony Music Entertainment

9
Me And My Partner
00:02:11

Bobby Terry, Acoustic Guitar - Willie Nelson, Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Jim "Moose" Brown, Organ, Piano - Ken Lambert, Composer, Lyricist - James Mitchell, Electric Guitar - Melonie Cannon, Background Vocal - Barry Bales, Acoustic Bass - Fred Eltringham, Drums, Percussion

(P) 2022 Sony Music Entertainment

10
Tower Of Song
00:05:00

Bobby Terry, Electric Guitar, Steel Guitar - Willie Nelson, Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Jim "Moose" Brown, Organ - Leonard Cohen, Composer, Lyricist - BUDDY CANNON, Producer - James Mitchell, Electric Guitar - Tony Castle, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Fred Eltringham, Drums, Percussion - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, Acoustic Bass

(P) 2022 Sony Music Entertainment

11
Live Every Day
00:03:12

Bobby Terry, Acoustic Guitar, Steel Guitar - Willie Nelson, Composer, Lyricist, Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano - BUDDY CANNON, Composer, Lyricist, Producer - James Mitchell, Electric Guitar - Tony Castle, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Fred Eltringham, Drums, Percussion - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, Acoustic Bass

(P) 2022 Sony Music Entertainment

12
Don't Touch Me There
00:02:38

Bobby Terry, Acoustic Guitar, Steel Guitar - Willie Nelson, Composer, Lyricist, Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - Jim "Moose" Brown, Organ - BUDDY CANNON, Composer, Lyricist, Producer - James Mitchell, Electric Guitar - Tony Castle, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Barry Bales, Acoustic Bass - Fred Eltringham, Drums, Percussion

(P) 2022 Sony Music Entertainment

13
With A Little Help From My Friends
00:03:42

Lonnie Wilson, Drums, Percussion - Bobby Terry, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar - Willie Nelson, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - John Lennon, Composer, Lyricist - Paul Mccartney, Composer, Lyricist - BUDDY CANNON, Producer - Mike Johnson, Steel Guitar - Tony Castle, Engineer, Mixing Engineer - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, Acoustic Bass - Catherine Marx, Organ, Piano

(P) 2022 Sony Music Entertainment

14
Leave You With A Smile
00:03:42

Bobby Terry, Composer, Lyricist, Engineer, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Piano, Bass, Steel Guitar - Willie Nelson, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Mickey Raphael, Harmonica - BUDDY CANNON, Composer, Lyricist, Producer - Melonie Cannon, Background Vocal - Tony Castle, Mixing Engineer - Matt Rossi, Composer, Lyricist

(P) 2022 Sony Music Entertainment

Album review

After Willie Nelson's fragile appearance at the 2019 CMA Awards, duetting with Kacey Musgraves on a heart-wrenching version of "The Rainbow Connection," it wouldn't have come as a shock if the legend hadn't recorded another album. But Nelson, at 89, is on a prolific roll. He released two albums in 2021, as well as duets with Karen O and Michael McDonald, and performed at Farm Aid. He has a slew of tour dates on the calendar for 2022, to promote A Beautiful Time, his 72nd studio album. It's not always an easy listen, but it's an important one. Like Johnny Cash's American IV, you are enveloped by the sense of mortality. Written by Nelson, "I Don't Go to Funerals" has the feel of an outlaw classic and finds him humorously stubborn but also hopeful. "I don't go to funerals/ And I won't be at mine," he sings. Instead he plans to be "at a big old pickin' party" in the sky, alongside Waylon (Jennings), John (Cash), Merle (Haggard), Kris (presumably Kristofferson, who isn't dead yet) and "our sweetheart Patsy Cline." "Dusty Bottles" is a slow burn that lets Nelson's ragged voice play to its advantage: “Dusty bottles pour a finer glass of wine/ An old beat-up guitar just sounds better/ And wisdom only comes with time." "Live every day like it was your last one," he offers on "Live Every Day," "and one day you're gonna be right." Even though they're not all by him, the choice of songs says something about what's on Nelson's mind. It's a gentle record, with the music never getting in the way of letting Willie be Willie, even when he sounds particularly fragile on "I'll Love You Till the Day I Die," a romantic number written by Chris Stapleton and Rodney Crowell. (Throughout, longtime band member Mickey Raphael's harmonica is like a call from the past.) Nelson sounds strongest on "Energy Follows Thought," a stark and moving number delivered by a man who fought to find his place in Nashville (and who eventually gave up on that city to write his own rules). "Be careful what you ask for/ Make sure it's really what you want/ Because your mind is made for thinking/ And energy follows thought." It's a hoot to hear Nelson modestly purr a slinky cover of Leonard Cohen's "Tower of Song," including the line: "I said to Hank Williams, 'How lonely does it get?'/ Hank Williams hasn't answered me yet/ But I hear him coughing all night long/ About 100 floors above me in the tower of song." There's also a cover of "With a Little Help from My Friends," with Nelson's voice reaching up so sweetly on the bridge, it's like sunshine breaking through the clouds. The album closer, "Leave You With a Smile," is a weepie, "I just want to leave you with a smile/ Even though that hasn't always been my style/ I messed up best intentions/ But I've loved you all the while ... If I run out of time/ I'll wait for you in the sweet by-and-by." © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz

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