The Essential Willie Nelson [3.0]

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Willie Nelson recorded for many labels during the course of his lengthy career, but his greatest commercial success arrived during his time on Columbia during the late '70s and early '80s, which is one of the reasons that the career-spanning double-disc collection The Essential Willie Nelson appeared on Columbia/Legacy in 2003. The other reason, of course, is that during the first part of the 2000s, Legacy had been turning out cross-licensed, multi-label compilations of artists who hopped around from label to label or had unwieldy careers. Willie is a perfect example of this, as he had five significant stays at labels in chronological order: Liberty, RCA, ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Willie Nelson recorded for many labels during the course of his lengthy career, but his greatest commercial success arrived during his time on Columbia during the late '70s and early '80s, which is one of the reasons that the career-spanning double-disc collection The Essential Willie Nelson appeared on Columbia/Legacy in 2003. The other reason, of course, is that during the first part of the 2000s, Legacy had been turning out cross-licensed, multi-label compilations of artists who hopped around from label to label or had unwieldy careers. Willie is a perfect example of this, as he had five significant stays at labels in chronological order: Liberty, RCA, Atlantic, Columbia, Island, surrounded by a bunch of detours to independent labels, or duets never featured on his official records, all of which makes the task of assembling a concise, definitive collection a difficult one. With its 41 tracks, spanning nearly 40 years of recording, The Essential Willie Nelson gets about as close as a set could to providing the basics. That doesn't mean that it's perfect, of course. It naturally relies heavily on the Columbia recordings, since it was both his popular peak and the label that released this collection, with 25 of the tracks dating from this era. To a certain extent, this shortchanges the brilliant Atlantic records Shotgun Willie and Phases and Stages, as well as his fascinatingly erratic RCA recordings found in their entirety on the Bear Family box Nashville Was the Roughest, but it's also true that the entire first disc, which runs from "Night Life" and "Hello Walls" through "Me and Paul" and "Bloody Mary Morning," all the way to Stardust, has a great momentum and summarizes this transition very well. The second disc picks up this thread well for the first 12 songs or so, covering Honeysuckle Rose and "Always on My Mind," along with some duets "Pancho & Lefty" with Merle Haggard, "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" with Julio Iglesias before it loses steam as it approaches the mid-'80s -- not so coincidentally, precisely the time that Willie's career was briefly derailed in a dispute with the IRS. From here on out, the compilation relies too heavily on idiosyncratic selections partially because he stopped having hits, making selection a matter of picking fan favorites and duets, including the rarities "Slow Dancing" and "One Time Too Many," where Willie is backed by U2 and Aerosmith, respectively, giving the very end of this collection an inappropriately sour aftertaste. These are minor problems, since the overall collection is as generous as Willie Nelson's music itself and it will likely satisfy the needs of most listeners wanting only one disc in their collection. [This collection was also released as a three disc set.]
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/1/2009
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • UPC: 886973515228
  • Catalog Number: 735152
  • Sales rank: 724

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Night Life (2:32)
  2. 2 Hello Walls (2:24)
  3. 3 Crazy (2:52)
  4. 4 Funny How Time Slips Away (3:02)
  5. 5 I Never Cared for You (2:32)
  6. 6 The Party's Over (2:29)
  7. 7 Good Times (2:28)
  8. 8 Me and Paul (3:49)
  9. 9 Shotgun Willie (2:39)
  10. 10 Bloody Mary Morning (2:49)
  11. 11 Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain (2:21)
  12. 12 Good Hearted Woman (2:59)
  13. 13 If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time (2:06)
  14. 14 Uncloudy Day (4:40)
  15. 15 Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys (2:32)
  16. 16 Georgia on My Mind (4:21)
  17. 17 Blue Skies (3:35)
  18. 18 All of Me (3:54)
  19. 19 Heartbreak Hotel - Leon Russell (3:03)
  20. 20 Help Me Make It Through the Night (4:01)
  21. 21 Whiskey River (3:31)
  22. 22 Stay a Little Longer (3:25)
Disc 2
  1. 1 My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys (3:06)
  2. 2 Faded Love (3:51)
  3. 3 On the Road Again (2:33)
  4. 4 Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground (4:31)
  5. 5 Always on My Mind (3:32)
  6. 6 Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning (4:21)
  7. 7 Pancho and Lefty (4:48)
  8. 8 To All the Girls I've Loved Before - Julio Iglesias (3:34)
  9. 9 City of New Orleans (4:52)
  10. 10 Seven Spanish Angels (3:52)
  11. 11 Forgiving You Was Easy (2:49)
  12. 12 Highwayman (3:04)
  13. 13 Living in the Promiseland (3:22)
  14. 14 Nothing I Can Do About It Now (3:19)
  15. 15 Graceland (4:46)
  16. 16 Everywhere I Go (3:52)
  17. 17 Slow Dancing (4:02)
  18. 18 Mendocino County Line (4:33)
  19. 19 One Time Too Many - Steven Tyler (5:23)
Disc 3
  1. 1 Remember Me (2:52)
  2. 2 I Love You a Thousand Ways (3:00)
  3. 3 Love Me Tender (2:32)
  4. 4 Midnight Rider (2:52)
  5. 5 Philadelphia Lawyer (3:03)
  6. 6 Why Do I Have to Choose (3:12)
  7. 7 Let It Be Me (3:31)
  8. 8 Still Is Still Moving to Me (3:30)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Willie Nelson Primary Artist
Mickey Raphael Harmonica
Technical Credits
Waylon Jennings Producer
Willie Nelson Composer, Producer
Dave Edmunds Producer
Leon Russell Producer
Paul Simon Producer
Bruce Fairbairn Producer
Fred Foster Producer
Roy Halee Producer
Felton Jarvis Producer
Booker T. Jones Producer
Daniel Lanois Producer
Arif Mardin Producer
Chips Moman Producer
Richard Perry Producer
Sydney Pollack Producer
Billy Sherrill Producer
Don Was Producer
Matt Serletic Producer
D.L. Jones Composer
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