Happy Birthday Willie Nelson – Still Crazy After All These Years

Willie Nelson turns 79 today and he’s still going strong, dropping his new CD “Heroes” next month, featuring Merle Haggard, Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson, Billy Joe Shaver,
and Sheryl Crow, among others. Who would have predicted that back in 1961, when Willie was just an itinerant song-plugger trying to sell “Crazy” to Patsy Cline, that one day he would be singing for presidents?

Here’s a Willie Nelson jukebox:

About Headly Westerfield

Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.

2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Willie Nelson – Still Crazy After All These Years

  1. I have the completely opposite view of Willie than the story the music critics like to tell. And to be fair his record sells show maybe they're right and I am wrong. But from about 1960 to 1974 I love his music. Then he hit with the Red Headed Stranger and blue eyes crying in the rain and from then on his music to me got progressively worse. He's certainly an icon and a treasure.

  2. Here's where I disagree with you and I'll start at the same chronological point, where Red Headed Stranger (Country) and Willie singing the 'Merkin songbook merged and Willie became the song and the song became Willie. From that moment on Willie was a 'Merkin institution. But, he never just sailed on his laurels. I love his timing, both the voice and the distinctive guitar playing.

    Here's a thing: Willie and Leon Russell did a 2-LP album way back when called "One For The Road," that was a classic. Russell introduced Willie to the concept of doing the Great 'Merkin songbook on that record.

    Leon Russell is also a 'Merkin Treasure. He was an original member of The Crypt Kickers Five and according to the WikiWackyWoo recorded with "Gary Lewis, George Harrison, Delaney Bramlett, Ringo Starr, Doris Day, Elton John, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, The Ventures, Willie Nelson, Badfinger, Tijuana Brass, Frank Sinatra, The Band, Bob Dylan, Glen Campbell, and The Rolling Stones.[6]

    As a member of Phil Spector's studio group, Russell played on many of the most popular songs of the 1960s, including some by The Byrds, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Bobby "Boris" Pickett, and Herb Alpert. He can be seen in 1964's "The T.A.M.I. Show", playing piano with "The Wrecking Crew" (an informal name for the top L.A. session musicians of the 1960s), sporting short, dark, slicked-back hair, in contrast to his later look.[6] Soon after, he was hired as Snuff Garrett's assistant/creative developer, playing on numerous #1 singles, including "This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis and the Playboys.[3] He wrote or co-wrote two hit songs for Gary Lewis and Playboys: "Everybody Loves a Clown" (which hit the Billboard Top 40 on October 9, 1965, remaining on the chart for 8 weeks and rising to number 4) and "She's Just My Style" (which hit Billboard's Top 40 on December 18, 1965 and rose to number 3).[7] He played xylophone and bells on the 1966 single "The Joker Went Wild", sung by Brian Hyland and penned by Bobby Russell (no relation to Leon). He also worked sessions with Dorsey Burnette and Glen Campbell on Campbell's 1967 album Gentle on My Mind, where he was credited as "Russell Bridges" on piano.[citation needed]"

    I'll have to do something on Leon some day.

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