Willie Nelson, To Lefty From Willie

Andy Beta

By Andy Beta

on 05.15.11 in Reviews

To Lefty From Willie

Willie Nelson
An album-length ode to Lefty Frizzell

At the height of the Outlaw Country movement, both Willie and Waylon acknowledged their deep roots and debts to their forebears. Waylon sang, “It don’t matter who’s in Austin/ Bob Wills is still the King” to the hippie rednecks at Armadillo World Headquarters while Willie went one further and cut To Lefty From Willie in 1977. It was an album-length ode to guitarist Lefty Frizzell, the Texan honky-tonker who had passed away from an alcoholism-powered stroke just two years before. Frizzell was no doubt an icon to Nelson, a prolific songwriter who also sang his own words, conveying well-deep emotions on standards like “Long Black Veil” and “Look What Thoughts Will Do.” A fine songwriter himself, on this album Nelson proved himself an adept interpreter as well, finding nuance and pathos in every turn of phrase, be it the nostalgia of “Mom and Dad’s Waltz” or reflective “I Never Go Around Mirrors.”