Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Most people might not think of Willie Nelson as one of the top artists of the '00s. But the problem with "most people" is that they don't pay enough attention to things that aren't being shoved down their throat. Willie has put out some incredible music this decade, including what may be my favorite Willie album ever, 2004's It Will Always Be.

Talk about being vital: by my count, he's put out thirteen albums of new material this decade. Not all of them were great: the reggae album (2005's Countryman), the children's album (2001's Rainbow Connection) the collabo-heavy album (2002's The Great Divide) and the blues album (2000's Milk Cow Blues) aren't really classics. But they are all ambitious and all have their moments. Two of his other albums got slammed but also had some cool moments: the Ryan Adams produced Songbird (from 2006) and the Kenny Chesney produced Moment Of Forever (from 2008).

But lets get to the good stuff: other than It Will Always Be, there was You Don't Know Me: The Songs Of Cindy Walker from 2006, 2003's Run That By Me One More Time with his old boss Ray Price, Last Of The Breed, a 2007 double album collaboration with Ray Price and Merle Haggard, and this year's collaboration with Asleep At The Wheel, Willie and The Wheel.

Then there's the one off stuff: his hit single with Toby Keith, "Beer For My Horses," "You Are My Flower" from the 2004 Carter Family tribute album, his daring cover of Bob Dylan's "He Was A Friend Of Mine" for the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack, the equally daring (but funnier) follow-up single, "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond Of Each Other." There was the collaboration with Gillian Welch, "I'm Not Afraid To Die," the much funnier iTunes single "Superman." He did a cool cover of Fats Domino's "I Hear You Knockin'" for the Goin' Home tribute album. And another Dylan cover, an amazing verion of "Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power)" backed by Calexico for the I'm Not There soundtrack (which made me think he should do a full album with Calexico). And, oh yeah, he covered Waylon Jennings' "Good Old Boys" for the Dukes Of Hazzard soundtrack. He also appeared in the movie. Who else worked with Gillian Welch and Jessica Simpson this decade? Oh yeah, he co-starred in the movie as well, and he also was in Toby Keith's Beer For My Horses flick too.

He still runs Farm Aid, and is a political activist for everything from the legalization of pot to the banning of slaughtering wild horses for meat. Also, he is the proprieter of Carl's Corner Truck Stop in Texas, and also of the great SIRIUSXM Channel Willie's Place.

We should all be so vital in our 70s! Here's to another great decade, Willie.

More Best Of The '00s: Bob Dylan

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