Sunday, May 30, 2010

Three Demos

Willie Nelson

Not sure yesterday's post resonated all that well, but I've decided to make today's post a follow up regardless. Today we have demo versions of three of the songs that were featured yesterday. It's an interesting trio as you'll hear three pretty different kinds of production here. "Crazy" is a fully arranged recording. As pointed out yesterday, the 4-hour session that Owen Bradley produced on Patsy Cline yielded just that one song. It seems they knew it was something special given that they spent a full session on it. Willie's somewhat sparse, but more fully realized demo might indicate that he (or his publishers) knew it was something special too. The song was reputedly written for Billy Walker, but he passed on it. It would be interesting to hear a Billy Walker version, but history might best have been served by his turning it down. "Three Days" is just Willie on guitar, and the demo for "Undo The Right" adds some nice, bluesy pedal steel. As far as I know, these recordings are all from 1961. One source shows "Three Days" as 1962, but given that his Liberty version was recorded at the September 1961 date, it seems unlikely he would have done a simple guitar demo after the fact. As I mentioned yesterday, this period of Willie Nelson is my favorite. I hope you all enjoy this further exploration into early Willie.


Don said...

I wouldn't assume no comment in short term indicates a lack of interest. Sometimes I go quite a few days without getting back to my favorite blogs because, you know how it is, "Life Happens!"

Then too, this is Memorial Day, a busy time for many families.

My experience is that I like to spend some time with the music before responding so that I can add more than a big thank you. The problem then is that remembering to respond at a later date can be iffy. I have to admit that I need to keep a list of what I'd like to respond to... kinda like in the rest of my life! Without a list I'd be helpless. :)

Perhaps a quick thanks immediately and a thought later is the best way to go. I'm sure it's nice for you to know that real living people are actually paying attention.

These songs are largely new to me, and I'm enjoying getting acquainted with them.

I also really appreciate your historical perspective on country music.

Here's a big THANKS,


(AKA bluegrassdon)

Harlan Taylor said...

I have given some thought to my feelings about Willie. I do feel that his Liberty sides were better than RCA. A lot of that is production. I don't know what went through his head when he wrote "Nashville was the roughest", but I do feel that the sound they gave him did not suit him very well, but I don't think that he was unique in that respect. Bobby Bare was continually given strange accompaniments and still he was able to get to the charts, much more than Willie. It ios hard for him to disparage Nashville, though, when they stuck with him hitless as long as they did. If they hadn't, who says he would have been able to make his own record for Atlantic? He very well could have ended up like Hank Cochran or any host of other really successful songwriters who could never translate it into a recording career.

It my be that hjindsight allows me to not have any remorse for Willie. My favorite Willie may be those songs he placed in the hands of others. Maybe I need to work on something to prove my point. Care to join me?


Don said...

It's fair to say Willie Nelson isn't a "singer's singer", but he is a "songwriter's songwriter"! Overall, I've never been especially fond of his singing. I think the the Red Haired Stranger album is the best he's done since his early recordings on Liberty. ( My favorite song here is Mr. Record Man... I'll never get tired of it.) Overall, I thought the "outlaw" period was too much fabrication and hype.

Willie has written a number of songs so good we'd all love to have written them. Are you suggesting, Harlan, that we only know of some of Willie's best songs because better singers recorded them?. It makes sense to me.

I'm here to learn and am looking forward to you developing and discussing your point about WIllie, his songwriting, and his singing.


Joaquin LeFleur said...

@Don - Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I'm so glad that you're visiting and getting something from the posts. That is very gratifying. And yes, it's definitely nice to get comments to know that people are out there, but also to know what resonates with folks to help inform future posts, and more than anything, to get great discussions like this going.

@Harlan - I agree that the Liberty stuff is better than the RCA. I like some of the RCA stuff, but the production is typically unfortunately a product of the time. Towards the end of the RCA period, outlaw Willie is starting to come to the fore a bit, but it really took Jerry Wexler and Atlantic to let Willie be Willie and finally break through as a unique artist. In a way, if Willie had been more successful as a recording artist early on, he may not have had the cause to rebel and realize himself the way he did by the early '70s.

But as far as a Willie songwriter volume, count me in!