The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Great Philosophers of the 20th Century #11: Willie Nelson


"Oh, the night life, ain't no good life
But it's my life . . . "

6 comments :

Rob said...

I remember when he couldn't get air-time on the C&W station, and the only place to hear him was on the alternative rock stations! "Shotgun Willie sits around in underwear...." Yeah, I guess it was a little too....risque for the s***kickers.

BCNU

swac said...

Red Headed Stranger is one of my favourite albums of all time, and that's after he'd been kicking around the industry for over 15 years. I can't imagine too many pros these days coming up with something that good after being around that long, with the possible exception of Steve Earle (who I'll be seeing next week, with Allison Moorer...yay.)

Tom Sutpen said...

Stephen wrote:

Red Headed Stranger is one of my favourite albums of all time, and that's after he'd been kicking around the industry for over 15 years.

*****
I'm not 100% sure who it was . . . somehow my brain is telling me it was Porter Wagoner . . . but some Country singer once said that when they first saw Willie Nelson backstage at the Grand Ole Opry sometime in the 60s they thought he was the accountant. He didn't start to look like a Country singer until around 1970, and even then he didn't look like a conventional one (no spangles or sequined jackets, etc).

"Red Headed Stranger" is a definite favorite of mine as well, but I love the LPs he did for Atlantic a few years earlier.

swac said...

I don't know the Atlantic stuff as well as I should...but I recently got the CD reissue of The Troublemaker, a gospel album that Atlantic shelved, and was later released on Columbia. The record is so good, you wonder what they were smoking over at Atlantic.

Tom Sutpen said...

Stephen wrote:

I don't know the Atlantic stuff as well as I should...but I recently got the CD reissue of The Troublemaker, a gospel album that Atlantic shelved, and was later released on Columbia. The record is so good, you wonder what they were smoking over at Atlantic.

*****
Everything I've heard is that, while they made a big deal over Nelson being the first Country act on the label, Atlantic quickly lost interest once they found that the sales just weren't there; which had been the story of Willie's entire recording career up to that point. He was a little like Harry Nilsson in this respect. Only other artists could get hits with his songs.

Tom Sutpen said...

Rob stated:

I remember when he couldn't get air-time on the C&W station, and the only place to hear him was on the alternative rock stations! "Shotgun Willie sits around in underwear...." Yeah, I guess it was a little too....risque for the s***kickers.

*****
By the way, you can use the word 'shitkickers' here. We don't play that censorship game here (well, except when Juan posts a comment).

Country music has always had its whiners; they're to be expected in that milieu. Wasn't there a big movement in Nashville in the early 70s to clean up Country radio because with all them cheatin' songs it was considered just outside the bounds of propriety?

I mean, even "Harper Valley P.T.A." was considered pretty bold for its day.

I guess them folks in Nashville forgot about the legacy of songs like "Slippin Around", huh.