http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/4a7f9d51bf73c9983a00bed1d4156e86cce800b5.jpg Across the Borderline

Willie Nelson

Across the Borderline

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 0 0
July 31, 1997

A grand tour of contemporary song, Willie Nelson's latest finds him showcasing wonders by such writers as Paul Simon, Lyle Lovett, Bob Dylan and himself — and dueting with Dylan, Sinead O'Connor and Bonnie Raitt. Wise to the folk ways that underlie this music, he lends each gem his sympathetic personality — but so subtly that the songs appear to soar on their own wings. When Nelson sings with O'Connor on Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up," his gentleness is, as always, startling; he's also terrific riding Mose Allison's jazz piano on Willie Dixon's "I Love the Life I Live." A sumptuous feast, "Across the Borderline" balances the stark guitar-and-voice ardor of "Who'll Buy My Memories?" (1991); both bespeak a master's revival.

"The same hand that led me through scenes most severe/Has calmly assisted me home," Bob Dylan sings on "Lone Pilgrim," one of the traditional folk marvels that make "World Gone Wrong" a fitting follow-up to last year's "Good As I Been to You" and another remarkably strong showing. That guiding hand could signify the American muse that has motivated all his work: By returning to Blind Willie McTell, "Stack a Lee" and such obscure outfits as the Mississippi Sheiks, Dylan reclaims the origins of his own poetry. And it's lovely that in his full maturity he has achieved what had always seemed his proper fate: He's a genius blues singer, oracular and timeless.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Madame George”

    Van Morrison | 1968

    One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

    More Song Stories entries »