Willie Nelson, Shotgun Willie

Andrea Boston

By Andrea Boston

on 06.04.11 in Reviews

Shotgun Willie

Willie Nelson
The funkiest of country records

The moment Willie Nelson was dropped from RCA’s roster, Atlantic Records’ sharp-eared Jerry Wexler went a-courting down in Texas. While Nashville producers like Felton Jarvis and Chet Atkins knew only to cloak everything that went through their hit factories with countrypolitan sheen, Wexler knew Willie Nelson wouldn’t take to such studio polish. He signed him to Atlantic Records’ short-lived country division and brought him up to New York City to record. Most crucially, he let Willie handpick his players. The result is Shotgun Willie, the funkiest of country records. The title track, about a speed freak “biting on a bullet and pulling out all of his hair” gets delivered with a horn-punched slink. Elsewhere, brewhaus polka, roadhouse funk, and Django’s jazz emerge from the grooves. With this album, the true Willie began to emerge from country music’s chrysalis and crest.