Willie Nelson To Release New Studio Album ‘Bluegrass’
By Stevie Connor.
Bluegrass (his 151st album, according to Texas Monthly’s interactive All Willie Nelson Albums Ranked list) presents 12 classic Willie Nelson compositions–including “On the Road Again,” “Yesterday’s Wine,” “Still is Still Moving to Me,” “Good Hearted Woman” and more–freshly interpreted by Willie Nelson and his bluegrass ensemble. For the album, Willie picked 12 personal and fan favourite compositions from across his career to perform anew. All songs on Bluegrass were written by Willie Nelson except “Good Hearted Woman” which has music and lyrics written by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.
Produced by longtime musical collaborator Buddy Cannon, Bluegrass features musicians including Barry Bales (upright bass), Ron Block (banjo), Aubrey Haynie (fiddle), Rob Ickes (dobro), Josh Martin (acoustic guitar), Mickey Raphael (harmonica), Seth Taylor (mandolin), Bobby Terry (acoustic guitar, gut string guitar), Dan Tyminski (mandolin); backing vocals are provided by Wyatt Beard, Buddy Cannon, and Melonie Cannon. Bluegrass features cover art by Micah Nelson (Willie’s son, a multimedia artist and musician), whose previous artwork for Willie includes the albums I Don’t Know a Thing About Love and First Rose of Spring as well as 2013’s autobiographical New York Times bestseller Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road.
Willie’s new album is a salute to the Appalachian old-time string band music which crystallized into a genre and was given a name by Kentucky songwriter/performer/recording artist Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, whose post-war recordings profoundly influenced Willie’s songwriting sensibilities and the direction of American country music in general. On Bluegrass, his first album tribute to the genre, Willie Nelson brings together a dozen songs connecting his personal history to his lifelong love for roots music. Using his own catalog as source material, in the spirit of traditional bluegrass sourcing hillbilly folk music, Willie chose songs combining the kind of strong melodies, memorable storylines and tight ensemble-interplay found in traditional bluegrass interpretations of the roots (from European melodies to African rhythms) of American folk songs. With Bluegrass, Willie uncovers new truths in his own songs.
In a career packed with highlights, 2023 is proving a banner year for Willie Nelson, who turned 90 on April 29.
“Wille Nelson & Family,” a new five-part film documentary series directed by Thom Zimny and Oren Moverman, premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival 2023 and is slated for broadcast later this year.
“Long Story Short: Willie Nelson 90,” a star-studded two-day concert celebrating Willie’s 90th birthday, was held at the Hollywood Bowl on April 29-April 30. The once-in-a-lifetime event showcased performances from an extraordinary range of artists who’ve been influenced and inspired by Willie and his music. “Willie Nelson 90,” a film made during the Hollywood Bowl Shows, enjoyed a limited theatrical run at select theatres in early June.
Willie took home two Grammys at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards in 2023: Best Country Solo Performance (“Live Forever”) (from Live Forever: A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver) and his first Best Country Album (A Beautiful Time) trophy. Over the course of his career, Willie Nelson has earned 56 Grammy nominations and 12 Grammy Awards.
Willie Nelson is one of the 2023 Inductees into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “This year’s incredible group of Inductees reflects the diverse artists and sounds that define rock & roll,” said John Sykes, Chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. “We are honored that this November’s Induction Ceremony in New York will coincide with two milestones in music culture; the 90th birthday of Willie Nelson and the 50th Anniversary of the birth of Hip Hop.” The 38th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place Friday, November 3rd at Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, New York with an HBO broadcast to follow.
Willie Nelson is bringing his family and friends on the road for the largest-ever Outlaw Tour to-date showcasing a can’t miss lineup of stars for a series of once-in-a-lifetime shows this summer and fall. Check out the 2023 Outlaw Festival Tour details.
Coming November 23, 2023, Willie’s new book, Energy Follows Thought: The Stories Behind My Songs promises to provide the stories behind the lyrics of 160 of his favorite songs, along with a dynamic assortment of never-before-seen photos and ephemera.
1. No Love Around
2. Somebody Pick Up My Pieces
3. Good Hearted Woman (cowritten with Waylon Jennings)
4. Sad Songs And Waltzes
5. Home Motel
6. You Left Me A Long, Long Time Ago
7. Yesterday’s Wine
8. Bloody Mary Morning
9. Slow Down Old World
10. Still Is Still Moving To Me
11. On The Road Again
12. Man With The Blues
In February 2012, Willie Nelson entered into an historic new record deal with Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, marking a label homecoming for Nelson, who, from 1975-1993, had cut a phenomenal string of top-selling singles and albums for Columbia Records, beginning with 1975’s seminal smash Red Headed Stranger. New titles by the artist under the Legacy imprint include newly recorded songs and performances as well as archival releases, personally curated by the artist, drawn from all phases of his career including his recordings for RCA Records and others. Since signing with Legacy, Willie Nelson has sold more than 1 million albums for the label.
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