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Willie Nelson reggae album?!?

Old 07-10-05, 07:55 PM
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Willie Nelson reggae album?!?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Willie Nelson is so prolific that sometimes even he forgets he has another record coming out. At a recent show here with Bob Dylan, Nelson performed a long list of hits, but not a single song from his new long-awaited reggae album.

"I keep forgetting," Nelson said a few days later by telephone from the road, which he's called home for most of the last 30 years. "The set is so short."

Nelson is indeed releasing a new reggae album, "Countryman," out Tuesday, and, at least sporadically, he's been working some of the songs into his shows.

He began work on the album in 1995 for Island Records, but the project was shelved after Universal bought Polygram, and Island founder Chris Blackwell left the company. It languished until Nelson moved to Lost Highway Records.

Produced by Don Was, who's worked with the Rolling Stones and Bonnie Raitt among others, the album includes reggae versions of Nelson songs such as "Darkness On the Face of the Earth" and "One in a Row." There also are covers of Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come" and "Sitting in Limbo," and a song called "I'm a Worried Man" by Johnny and June Carter Cash that Nelson recorded as a duet with Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals.

"When he (Cash) found out I was doing a reggae album, he said, 'Hey, I've got a reggae song that I wrote when I lived there,'" Nelson recalled. "Toots heard it and liked it."

That Nelson's country songs stand up so well to reggae's offbeat syncopation and upstroke guitar strums is a testament to their durability. Nelson said he recorded them about 10 years ago in Los Angeles with Jamaican musicians, including some from the late reggae star Peter Tosh's band.

"The musicians told me that reggae was invented really by listening to country music coming from the United States. They put their own rhythms to those tunes," he said.

While the music on "Countryman" might raise the eyebrows of country purists, so will the cover. With green marijuana leaves on a red and yellow background, the cover art makes the CD look like an oversized pack of rolling papers.

The marijuana imagery reflects Jamaican culture, where the herb is a leading cash crop and part of religious rites, but it also reflects Nelson's fondness for pot smoking.

Universal Music Group Nashville is substituting palm trees for the marijuana leaves on CDs sold at the retail chain Wal-Mart, a huge outlet for country music that's also sensitive about lyrics and packaging.

"They're covering all the bases," Nelson joked.

If any country star can get away with marijuana leaves on a CD, it's Nelson. Besides being an innovator and leading figure in American music, he's also been a rebel and outlaw.

After a stint in the U.S. Air Force, he moved his family from his native Texas to Nashville and tried to break through as a singer in the early 1960s. But his off-the-beat, conversational delivery was unconventional by Nashville standards.

He returned to Texas in 1970 and began building a fan base with his live shows. He grew his hair long, stripped down his sound and attracted a youthful rock audience. He made more than a dozen albums before he hit his stride with "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain," "Georgia on My Mind," "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys," "On the Road Again," "Always on My Mind" and "Whiskey River."

Along the way, Nelson launched a successful film career ("Electric Horseman," "Wag the Dog"), started the annual Farm Aid concerts with John Mellencamp and Neil Young and ran into tax trouble.

More recently, he supported liberal candidate Dennis Kucinich for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and later the nominee, John Kerry.

"Dennis Kucinich was against the war, and I was against the war," Nelson said. "Everyone else seemed sort of for it one way or another. I backed a guy that had no chance in hell of winning, but that didn't matter."

He also released a rare political song, "Whatever Happened To Peace on Earth," in which he condemned the war in Iraq. The title and lyrics pretty much sum up his views on war.

"I was basing my opinion mainly on what I had been taught ever since I was growing up," he said. "'Thou shall not kill' has been around a long time."

This summer, for the second time in as many years, he and Dylan are performing in minor league ball parks all over the country. On stage the two are a study in contrast. Nelson opens with smiles and waves and a predictable, hit-heavy set. Dylan sits off to the side behind a keyboard, plays very few hits and changes the set list every night.

The two almost never perform together.

"I go on so early I can be halfway to the next town before he shows up," said Nelson, who says he and Dylan have discussed doing a song or two together, as well as sitting down for a game of chess, but haven't gotten around to either yet.

At 72, Nelson continues to record and perform at a breakneck pace. He believes his best record is still ahead of him.

"I feel like we're doing one now that's going to be better than anything else we've ever done," he said.
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Old 07-10-05, 09:49 PM
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willies great, but him doing reggae?! i gotta hear it to believe it.
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Old 07-10-05, 09:53 PM
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well,
i can think of one thing Willie Nelson and reggae have in common (and it's not nappy hair )
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Old 07-11-05, 01:26 AM
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I've been looking forward to this ever since I read about it in this month's Relix magazine.
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Old 07-12-05, 08:27 PM
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http://news.yahoo.com/photo/050712/p...YzBHNlYwN0bXA-

No, you're not smoking something--the cover of Willie Nelson's new reggae album comes in two separate versions: regular and Wal-Mart.

The cover art of Countryman, released Tuesday, features green marijuana leaves over a red and yellow background and looks similar to a large pack of rolling papers.

However, for those looking to snap up the CD at Wal-Mart's famously rolled back prices, the cover features a palm tree in place of the offending leaves, a change made by Universal Music Group Nashville out of deference to the retailing giant's strict guidelines with regards to lyrics and packaging.

"They're covering all the bases," Nelson commented to the AP.

Nelson's not the first artist to be edited by Wal-Mart. In the past, musicians have been asked to change lyrics in order to be stocked on the retailer's shelves, and Wal-Mart once refused to carry a Sheryl Crow album because it contained a song with lyrics about children killing each other with guns purchased at the store.

The retailer also pulled Prodigy's 1997 album, Fat of the Land, from shelves after deeming the lyrics to "Smack My Bitch Up" too offensive by its standards.

Despite the toned-down cover art, Wal-Mart shoppers can rest assured that the contents of Countryman remain unaltered.

The long-awaited album features reggae versions of Nelson songs including "Darkness on the Face of the Earth" and "One in a Row," as well as covers of Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come" and "Sitting in Limbo."

Nelson also teamed with Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals to record "I'm a Worried Man" by Johnny and June Carter Cash.

"When he [Cash] found out I was doing a reggae album, he said, 'Hey, I've got a reggae song that I wrote when I lived there,' " Nelson told the AP. "Toots heard it and liked it."

Nelson originally started work on the album for Island Records in 1995 with producer Don Was, who's worked with the Rolling Stones and Bonnie Raitt, among other big names.

However, after Island founder Chris Blackwell left the company, the album fell to the wayside until a former Island exec landed at Nelson's current label, Lost Highway Records and revived it.

The 72-year-old country singer is currently on the road again, appearing with Bob Dylan in small venues across the country.

On Sept. 18, Nelson will reunite with fellow Farm Aid founders John Mellencamp and Neil Young in Chicago to mark the benefit concert's 20th anniversary. Dave Matthews Band is also scheduled to appear and other acts will be announced at a later date.

Over the years, the concerts have raised more than $27 million to benefit farmers.

Tickets for Farm Aid '05 go on sale July 30.

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Old 07-13-05, 08:12 AM
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Willie Nelson is so prolific that sometimes even he forgets he has another record coming out.
Yeah, that must be it. Prolific.
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Old 07-14-05, 10:17 AM
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Anyone else heard this yet? I d/led it last night and have listened to it a couple of times now and really dig it.
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Old 07-14-05, 10:31 AM
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Amazon has 30 sec samples of each song:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...211969-8442345
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Old 07-14-05, 01:26 PM
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awful
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Old 07-14-05, 01:31 PM
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Word is born.... Rasta Nelson in da Houssssseee
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Old 07-14-05, 03:41 PM
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Heard a track from this on XM's reggae channel last weekend.

I'd certainly give him an "A" for effort, but the end result just sounded... awful.
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