I’m a bit perplexed by the fact that I can’t find the Vinyl Me, Please store exclusive to Willie Nelson’s The Words Don’t Fit the Picture. Nothing appears in the search bar for “Willie Nelson” so my first thought is that it’s sold out, which is odd because VMP usually keeps the title online but notes its unavailability. The second clue to this great October ghost is that no 2017 reissue appears within tWDFtP album entry on Discogs. This could have been an premature advertisement, or it could very well be false advertising. Whichever carries more weight, I suppose is the valid answer.
This illusive little slithering snake has managed to outrun me for the last, conceivable time. Found this essential gem over the weekend for a cool $6.42 at my local brick & mortar. I’ve checked the country section for this album at that store every week for the past several years, and I finally walked away red handed. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain, originally a track written for Roy Acuff by Fred Rose, has been covered in the studio over 8 times, includes renditions by both Conway Twitty and Hank Williams. I can’t say I’ve heard each and every version, but I’m confident in stating that none could be better than Willie Nelson’s soft-spoken, heartfelt version, track five on Columbia Records’ 1975 masterpiece, Red Headed Stranger.
Willie Nelson – Red Headed Stranger
George Thorogood & the Destroyers – More George Thorogood & the Destroyers
Minutemen – The Punch Line
The Statler Brothers – The Best of the Statler Brothers
Tim Hardin – This is Tim Hardin (mono)d
Underworld – MMM Skyscraper, I Love You
1978’s Willie and Family Live is a great collection of heartfelt confessions told by one of the last remaining living legends of the country music genre, Willie Hugh Nelson. Kicking off this 28-track double LP (not including the 6-part medley) is the lively classic, Whiskey River (a raging thoroughfare we’ve all battled in one way or another, some more frequently than others). While my soul goes out to Johnny Cash, my heart goes to Willie Nelson. His impartial sincerity is as humbling as it is overwhelming, and as a live act, few standing have as much stage wisdom as Mr. Nelson. It’s going to be a sad day when we lose this one.
I speak of this only because I happen to notice it today, a day in which busywork afforded me the opportunity to listen to stereo recordings with a single ear bud (not ideal, but embraceable), while performing my spreadsheet-happy daily chores in a swift and efficient fashion.
Here, for those who’ve never asked, is a sprint through the progression of a normal, 9-5 (10-7) day (in regards to my organic music consumption).
9:31am: Feeling a bit homesick and decide to mentally frolic through the painted walls of my feverish memory as a youngen at my Grandparent’s farmhouse and cue up 50 Number One Country Hits.
9:56am: Arrive at work and continue the 50-track playlist and wonder, countless times, why I haven’t ordered 1975’s Red Headed Stranger by the great Willie Nelson on vinyl ($5.85 off Discogs.com… I mean, k’mon!).
2:11pm: Finish the epic 50-track memory-machine-gun and dry the reality from my eyes.
2:12pm: Cue up The Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride II and remember that this album was once, and for a very long time, my favorite album.
5:36pm: Finish BRII and feverishly, and without music, complete my daily objectives.
7:56pm: With a quasi-clear head, and the freedom of the evening, I drive home and enjoy the lamenting screams from Refused’s The Shape of Punk to Come and think to myself, in an empty car, I should have been a musician.
For what it’s worth, I’m going to make it a point, today, at least, to finish these waking hours exactly where I started… with Jack Greene’s There Goes My Everything. Happy trails, and pleasant evening, kids.
I’m not sure why the local brick & mortars in and around the Los Angeles area haven’t stocked the 1975 Willie Nelson classic, Red Headed Stranger (you know, the one with Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain on it). There are currently 1080 owners of this album on Discogs, and there are 19 copies on sale starting at $0.99, yet I’ve still never seen one among my multiple hunts throughout the last 12 hunting months. “Just order it on Discogs, then, and stop wasting my time!” I just can’t justify paying more for shipping than the item being shipped, Mr. and / or Mrs. Mud Stick.
The search continues, for the elusive, Red Headed Stranger.
Country (music), as a whole, is a disease with which one should attempt to avoid at all costs. This is, by and large, the general rule… obviously. BUT, as with any and every rule, there are exceptions. Cash, Nelson, Haggard, Williams, Robbins, and Statler, to name a small few, are tonight’s exception.
The Brothers Statler ride that fine line between punny and clever, while simultaneously offering glass-cutting vocal precision, and unforgettable, catchy, wholesome melodies. A time machine with one destination (my grandparent’s living room via the WXRO, rural radio at its best), the weighted power behind these ancient voices gives life to a fleeting memory that was all but taken for granted (at the time), and is nourished and cherished throughout these nostalgic, lamenting days.
As much as one would like, the personal past, and the nonchalant sounds within, cannot be forgotten.