I’ve had this idea for a while now to write short articles on music that comprises roughly ten minutes of time. I am in no way an authority on music, but I know what I like and I like to write about it. I guess I’m somewhat of a fanatic about music, but I’m not a musician. I can barely sing, and can just fiddle around some on the guitar and piano. (Pun intended.)
I’ve got a lot of songs in my iTunes library. Some might say I’ve got quite a narrow range of tastes, while others may think it fairly diverse. I’ve got 10,903 songs in my library. Of these songs, 3634 are country, 2365 are rock and 1219 are soundtrack (TV themes, movie soundtracks, etc.)
My favorite artists are definitely Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, Elvis, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon and others. Like most people I’m sure, it depends on the day/mood what I like or want to hear that day. The top three artists as far as how many songs I have of each are Willie – 1,112 songs, Cash – 794 songs and Elvis – 481 songs. Lastly, my tastes are definitely drawn to 70’s music. I read somewhere that whatever decade you turned 10 years old in will be your favorite decade of music. This may not be true for all, but it is for me. As far as each decade goes though, I have the following number of songs for each decade in my library…
00’s – 3,071
70’s – 2,262
90’s – 1,747
60’s – 1,496
80’s – 1,447
Now to get on with today’s ten minutes of music. I’ve picked three Willie songs. Willie has had 20 number one songs in his career, according to my research. Two of these songs are number one hits of his and the last could have been. As I’ve said, I’m a huge Willie fan and have been to about 15 or more of his concerts.
We’ll begin with “Angel Flying to Close to the Ground”. This has just about everything that’s great about Willie’s music. The first 16 seconds are just his voice and his guitar that he’s named Trigger. Some may say that Willie’s voice is an acquired taste; Emmy Lou Harris said, “If America had only one voice, it would be Willie’s”. I would agree. Whatever your opinion is on his voice, his guitar playing is phenomenal as far as I’m concerned. Willie wrote this song and it’s symbolic of a lot of his music. At the 1:48 mark in the song he starts a 1 minute 4 second guitar solo that is a masterpiece. His harmonica player Mickey Raphael can be heard playing throughout the song. His style of playing is just about as unmistakable as Willie’s. All in all this is Willie at his best and is exactly 4 ½ minutes of musical mastery
Fred Rose wrote our second song “Blues Eyes Crying in the Rain”. Fred was one of the three charter members of the Country Music Hall of Fame when it opened in 1961. The other two were the legendary Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers. Willie’s version is the standard for this song and although he didn’t write, it’s got Willie’s style all over it. Country music historian Bill Malone wrote that this song was (1) “a fine example of clean, uncluttered country music, (with) a spare arrangement that could have come straight out of the 1940’s”. Furthermore, Rolling Stone noted that the song was delivered with his (2) “jazz-style phrasing” and was “the beating heart of Red Headed Stranger”. FYI, this song comes from Willie’s album “The Red Headed Stranger”. “Blue Eyes…” was Willie’s first number one country song as an artist. His first as a songwriter was “Hello Walls”, made famous by Faron Young. Similar to “Angel…” Willie has a 34 second guitar solo in this song that is superb.
Our last song is “Christmas Blues” written by Willie and Booker T Jones. Jones produced this album and played keyboards on this song. I play this song year round simply because it’s a wonderful piece of music. It’s just Willie and “Trigger” and they are both at their best. If you’re bored sometime, check out the story of Willie’s guitar, it’s quite interesting. “Christmas Blues” comes from Willie’s 1979 album “Pretty Paper”. As the last track on the album it soundly hits on the somewhat melancholy feeling most of us get at Christmastime.
These songs add up to 10 minutes and 2 seconds and they’re a great way to spend 10 minutes of your day. It’s not lost on the author of this article that these songs begin with the letters A, B, C and could be a great way to learn the ABC’s of Willie Nelson’s music. There’s a whole lot more of his stuff that I could recommend… but that’s another article for another day. Turn it up… Sing along… Take care…
1. ^ Malone, Bill, “The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Country Music” ((booklet included with The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Country Music 8-volume set). Smithsonian Institution, 1981).