Saturday, May 29, 2010

Classic Recording Sessions - Three Days

Patsy Cline
Monday, August 21, 1961 (7:15 pm - 11:15 pm)
Bradley Film & Recording Studio, 804 16th Ave. South, Nashville 3, TN
Patsy Cline: vocal; Harold Bradley: guitar; Grady Martin: guitar; Randy Hughes: guitar; Walter Haynes: steel guitar; Bob Moore: bass; Buddy Harman: drums; Floyd Cramer: piano; Jordanaires: backing vocals.
Producer: Owen Bradley
11037 Crazy

Willie Nelson
Tuesday, August 22, 1961
Nashville, TN
Willie Nelson: vocal, guitar; other personnel unknown

Tuesday, September 12, 1961
Nashville, TN
Willie Nelson: vocal, guitar; other personnel unknown

Three days for Willie Nelson:
Yesterday: Patsy Cline recorded "Crazy." Willie's big break as a songwriter came earlier in the year with Faron Young's recording of "Hello Walls." Now, Patsy Cline records what proves to be a
signature song both for her and for Willie.
Today: Willie is recording his first session for Liberty Records. "Touch Me" is recorded this day and
will ultimately prove to be his first solo hit - #7 on the Billboard country charts in 1962 (he
had a #10 hit with then-wife Shirley Collie earlier that year).
Tomorrow (well, three weeks later): Willie has his second session for Liberty that yields 10
wonderful songs that would be a big part of Willie's first album And Then I Wrote.

"Crazy" by Patsy Cline is an undisputed classic. It's here today more for context. The real focus of
today's post is Willie Nelson. Having Patsy record "Crazy" was obviously a huge break for Willie. It
would seem that Owen Bradley had high expectations for the song for Patsy as it was the only
song recorded on that Monday. I suppose it's doubtful that Willie was in attendance at the session,
but I'd like to think he was at least aware that it was happening. What's kind of incredible is that
the very next day was another pretty important career day for Willie - his first session for Liberty
Records which were his first significant commercial recordings. He had recorded several demos
in Nashville, some of which have been issued over the years, but aside from a few sporadic small
label records, this is pretty much where Willie sprang forth as a recording artist. As much as I
appreciate and respect Willie's later recordings that he's primarily known for, this early Liberty
stuff is definitely my favorite Willie material. The recordings were done on a somewhat limited
budget, so the arrangements are pretty sparse, but direct and full of feel. Willie's got his
incredible phrasing even this early (in fact, pronounced in more interesting ways at this point,
I think) and the end result is so cool it makes me want to light up a cigarette and slick back my
hair with Brylcream, or Pomade or whatever Willie was using on his hair back before it was
braided. I hope you enjoy these recordings as much as I do.

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