Willie Nelson, Naked Willie

Andy Beta

By Andy Beta

on 05.15.11 in Reviews

Naked Willie

Willie Nelson
The outlaw was there all along

The conventional line on Willie Nelson’s career is that he was handcuffed by the prevailing wisdom of Nashville’s country music factory at the time, leading him to retire rather than have has music turned into countrypolitan candy. And that his serious vision only became when he relocated to Austin, grew a ginger beard and released albums on Atlantic and Columbia. But as this peculiar set makes clear, the outlaw was already in Willie’s music, it was just buried under studio fluff. So in 2009, in much the same manner that Sir Paul McCartney did in varnishing off Phil Spector’s lacquer from Let it Be for Let it Be…Naked, we were presented with uh…Naked Willie. Gone are the backing vocals, the taffeta strings, the horse-breaking layers of overdubs. With longtime harmonica player Mickey Raphael helping, the two took these polished RCA sides and stripped them down. Some diamonds in the rough include his take on “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and “The Party’s Over,” proving that the outlaw hid here all along.