Willie Nelson, The Early Years

Andy Beta

By Andy Beta

on 06.04.11 in Reviews

The Early Years

Willie Nelson
Documenting his early proficiency and wit

Shoe shiner, member of a polka band, guitarist in his brother-in-law’s western swing band, disc jockey in both San Antonio, Texas, and Portland, Oregon — Willie Nelson was many things before he got $100 for the rights to his song “Family Bible,” making him a bona fide paid songwriter. But he’d been writing songs since the age of four, so when he relocated to Nashville in the early ’60s, he wrote three hit singles in a matter of a few weeks: “Hello Walls” for Faron Young, “Crazy” for Patsy Cline and “Funny How Time Slips Away” for Ray Price. But he was cutting many more songs than that and this box set documents the man’s proficiency. His wit is evident on numbers like “Mr. Record Man,” “One in a Row” and “Half a Man” and his own peculiar way of delivering a song vocally is already evident. Seemingly flat as if talking rather than singing, Nelson’s dragging behind on the beat showed him as much a jazz singer as a country singer.