Hey Willie!

Willie Nelson Somewhere Over the RainbowOver Easter weekend, my brother and I randomly got the urge to drive around the great town of San Antonio. We rode around in my new black Mazda CX-5 with Conway Twitty’s Pandora radio blasting. Somehow we ended up at La Cantera mall, which is right by Fiesta Texas Six Flags. While walking around, the two of us wandered into Urban Outfitters and decided we could not leave without a record player and vinyl record. Fortunately, we headed back home happily with a portable turntable in one hand, and Willie Nelson’s 1981 Somewhere Over The Rainbow album in the other.

This vintage album features 1940’s pop standards arranged by Nelson. The album’s acoustic jazz instrumentation was also meant to play tribute to one of his heroes, Belgian gypsy jazz guitar virtuoso Django Reinhardt, who influenced Nelson’s playing. This could be a possible reason why some vocals were also performed by Freddie Powers. The album includes the tracks of:

  • Mona Lisa
  • Exactly Like You
  • Who’s Sorry Now?
  • I’m Confessin’ (That I Love You)
  • Won’t You Ride In My Little Red Wagon
  • Over The Rainbow
  • My Mother’s Eye
  • I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter
  • It Wouldn’t Be The Same (Without You)
  • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

If you have not been lucky enough to listen to at least one of these songs I highly recommend you do, my personal favorite would be “Mona Lisa.” This album does not seem to resemble any of Willie’s outlaw music he is so popular for today. It is a slower and more relaxed type of instruments and vocals. This is an album you play in the background while having guests over, it is a simple sound. Which was the same type of feeling I got when I visited his statue.

For our Country Experience Reflection project I knew I had to go see this infamous statue, and after owning a vinyl record of his I thought it was the perfect time. On the drive over to Willie I was expecting this statue to be huge and extravagant. I expected a lot of color and maybe some of his music playing. However, when I got there I walked right past it. I did not even notice his statue. It was very simple and made me think of his album I just bought. The statue was of Willie sitting down holding his guitar, of course he was sporting his famous braids and bandana. There were not any splashes of color or music around him. He was just a statue at the corner of busy roads.

Willie Nelson statueThis begged me to question if I really understood Willie Nelson at all. I always thought of him as this outlaw that was loud and “in-your-face.” Now I see him as this laid back and “go-with-the-flow” type of guy. Maybe this is what makes him an outlaw in some ways. Country music seems to be all about the bling and Nashville commercialization, however Willie does not convey that. Is this why Willie is so popular? If you have visited the statue, did you feel the same simple atmosphere?

For another blogger’s experience visiting Willie Nelson’s statue, make sure to check out Abby Shamis’s post.

1 Comment

Filed under Austin, Outlaw, Texas

One Response to Hey Willie!

  1. Shelby Conine

    I think it’s so cool that you bought a record player and vinyl record! My parents and grandparents always talk about how different music was then because of the different sounds each unique record would play. Furthermore, I’m intrigued by your reflections on who Willie is as an artist. I originally thought of him as a more outspoken outlaw but it seems as though your interpretation might be closer to his true persona. I could see how that would appeal to the traditionalists who believe that country music is just a guy and his guitar. That definitely would’ve seemed completely different juxtaposed with Nashville’s huge lights and production factor. I like to think that Willie just wanted something more authentic and to him that was the laid back style of Texas. I really enjoyed this post!

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