Wednesday, November 24, 2004:

two from Willie

Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash -- Funny How Time Slips Away
Willie Nelson -- Too Sick to Pray
Melancholy bit of country here with Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, two kings of country--experts at what they do, simultaneously modest and badass. Nelson starred in Honeysuckle Rose, but I've also seen him in bit parts in various indie movies, and always thought that was cool--not because he could act, but because he'd take bit parts that can't pay well.

Nelson's played with Cash before, in The Highwaymen (with Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings), in the mid-1980s before his IRS troubles. There's a lot to pick from over his career; his 1970s work is vital and awesome (but I grew up with it, so I would have that fondness for it anyway), but some of his more recent stuff is just as compelling, especially in the last decade.

"Too Sick to Pray" is a country waltz about spiritual alienation and reconciliation; the track comes from Spirit, a spare album that Nelson self-produced. His next album, Teatro, which Daniel Lanois produced and Emmylou Harris guested on, got a lot of well-deserved attention; but I think there's a simple beauty throughout Spirit that could do with some more attention as well. Most of the tracks on it are just Willie's beat up old nylon-stringed guitar, his voice, a piano, a steel-string guitar, and maybe a violin; the first half is mostly about loss; the second half is mostly about determination, love, and hope. Remarkable work, and it covers enough that the title could refer to either faith (the holy spirit) or the human spirit.
[]: Willie Nelson & Johnny Cash: VH1 Storytellers
[]: Willie Nelson: Spirit


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