Search - Willie Nelson :: Songbird (Dig)

Songbird (Dig)
Willie Nelson
Songbird (Dig)
Genres: Country, Alternative Rock, Folk, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1

For better and for worse, this trans-generational pairing of Willie Nelson and producer Ryan Adams takes the veteran into musical territory where he wouldn't have likely ventured on his own. There's long been an organic un...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Willie Nelson
Title: Songbird (Dig)
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Lost Highway
Original Release Date: 1/1/2006
Re-Release Date: 10/31/2006
Genres: Country, Alternative Rock, Folk, Pop, Rock
Styles: Americana, Outlaw Country, Singer-Songwriters, Country Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 602498583531, 521312572165

For better and for worse, this trans-generational pairing of Willie Nelson and producer Ryan Adams takes the veteran into musical territory where he wouldn't have likely ventured on his own. There's long been an organic unity to Nelson's signature sound--the way his conversational phrasing plays against the staccato runs of his gypsy guitar, with the backing of a band that's been with him so long he calls them Family. On Songbird, Adams substitutes the more aggressively electric backing of his own band, the Cardinals, and plainly had a large say in selecting and arranging the material. Two highlights that most bear his imprint are "Blue Hotel," which Adams wrote for the project and with which Nelson plainly connects, and the bluesy, ominous arrangement by Adams of the closing "Amazing Grace," which sounds closer to "House of the Rising Sun." At the other extreme, Nelson's lumbering take on the Grateful Dead's "Stella Blue," which culminates in an electric squall, sounds like the kind of music Willie would rather not listen to, let alone make. And the hard-edged riffing on "$1000 Wedding" practically bludgeons the Gram Parsons song to death. While the three Nelson originals (two old, one new) all work fine, the rest is hit (Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah") and miss (the title cut, by Fleetwood Mac's Christine McVie). It has been said that Nelson can sing just about anything--which doesn't necessarily mean that he should. --Don McLeese

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CD Reviews

Inspirational: Amazing Grace and Hallelujah
prisrob | New EnglandUSA | 12/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"4.5 stars
"When Willie Nelson began his ascent to country music stardom in the 1970s, he managed to corral two types of fans. The first group was the rednecks, drawn to Willie's country sound and perhaps even his pedigree as the guy who wrote "Crazy" for Patsy Cline; and the second group was the hippies, who saw Willie as one of their own: a long-haired, scruffy-bearded pot-smoker with a propensity for traditional music. Thirty years later, Nelson's audience has expanded beyond those two polar demographics, and the man himself has become an icon" Pitchfork

Willie Nelson is back to his old roots with this CD, admirably produced by Ryan Adams. Adams has his band the 'Cardinals' playing, and as someone else said this CD should be named 'Wille Nelson and The Cardinals'. The Cardinals add such a wonderfully rich touch, and Ryan Adams sings vocals in some of the songs. They provide Willie Nelson's "knotty old pipes a scene for boisterous settings" 11 songs, written by old friends and new and sung with distinction.

'Rainy Day Blues'-shuffling blues number written by Willie, which will make you want to hear more right away with its soulful guitar.

'Songbird"-The Fleetwood Mac, Stevie McVie, title track gets a `70s country rock treatment, which is appropriate as it's a `70s-era pop song.

'Blue Hotel'- Ryan Adams's song that talks of a mythical American West full of lies and fools.

"Back to Earth" Willie Nelson's own song. He begins with just an occasional strum of the acoustic guitar and his bare voice.

'Stella Blue"- Greatful Dead and Jerry Garcia's tune accented with great guitar work.

'Hallelujah'- Leonard Cohen's song and my favorite on this CD, finds "Willie drawing comparisons of the fall of some mighty men such as David and Samson with his own failings as a man in love. He sings:

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah"

'$1000 Dollar Wedding"- Wille sings about his young almost-bride-to-be on Gram Parsons's "$1000 Wedding" with a harshness that implies Nelson still hasn't forget the pain of heartbreak from all those years ago".

'We Don't Run'- Willie's own song and it rocks out. "Kick it off if you're ready", Nelson instructs the band before launching into "We Don't Run", and they turn the ballad into a rockabilly-style rave-up.

'Yours Love'-One of the sweetest 'love songs' I have heard Wille sing.
"May the Comfort I praise be yours love, and the arms that I seek be yours love".

'Sad Songs and Waltzes'- the third of Willies songs-a true waltz and Willie said he was writing a song for his love who had cheated and was leaving.

'Amazing Grace'-the final sing on the album and this is a cover unlike any you've heard before. "Willie paints the hymn in a minor key darkness, as he sings the songs almost sounding condemned as opposed to saved. The haunting melody is reminiscent of the classic "House of the Rising Sun" and finishes off the album with a great bit of creativity."

"Songbird, a collaboration with Ryan Adams is Willie Nelson's finest in a decade. The sound is burly, surrounding his inimitable lilt with shuddering electric guitars. But the slow and stately stuff really sparkles, which proves the old troubadour can still write the best weepers around. "Entertainment Weekly

This CD has some amazing songs. With the addition of Ryan Adams producing, and the renditions of "Hallelujah" "Yours Love" and "Amazing Grace" this CD sould be heard time and again.
Highly Recommended. prisrob 12/01/06
The Electric Willie Nelson
Smallchief | 11/20/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Willie Nelson may be over 70 years old but he is undaunted by trying new kinds of music. This album features a rocking background of electric guitars, a bluesy beat, and a gospel chorus. Not exactly traditional Nelson music, although on a couple of songs you hear the unmistakable twang of Willie playing his beaten and battered acoustic guitar.

I like most of these songs. "Rainy Day Blues" sounds just like a song of this title should; "We don't run" is an uptempo makeover of a song he wrote and previously recorded; "$1000 Wedding" is a fine version of an old Gram Parsons song. "Songbird" belongs to Eva Cassidy, but Willie's version is tolerable. "Amazing Grace" is New Orleans-y and sounds more like "St. James Infirmary" than "Amazing Grace."

None of these songs blow me away -- but it's a pleasant listenable CD with some interesting backing instrumentation. One of Willie's old comrades who appears on this CD is Mickey Raphael on harmonica and his playing is -- as always -- a highlight.

Hallelujah and AMEN!
R. Kyle | USA | 12/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Amazing Grace" is probably my all-time favorite song. I have versions of it from everywhere including Africa and Ireland. Though I knew the song scanned to "House of the Rising Sun," I'd never heard anyone record it with that arrangment. Probably only Willie could get by with it--and yes he does. It's something of an ominous message: Repent--or else!

The title cut, "Songbird" is the old Eva Cassidy icon. Willie's version is good--but won't re-define the song.

"Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen) is always amazing. Glad to hear Willie doing it.

The whole collection all has a different take on the classics. I like the idea of Nelson teaming up with Ryan Adams--adds a bit of spice to classic performer."