.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/e7a7c25970c815a85135afc215c95a136a325121.jpg It's Been Rough and Rocky Travelin'

Willie Nelson

It's Been Rough and Rocky Travelin'

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
October 22, 2003

Three CDs documenting the birth of a country outlaw before Willie Nelson became an outlaw, he was a hustler. In "Attention Songwriters," a hilarious late-1950s radio ad included in this box set, he tells struggling composers how they can get their songs cut by "professional musicians" and pressed as publishing demos — for just ten bucks a tune, sent to an address in Fort Worth, Texas. As an aspiring hitmaker himself, Nelson never stooped that low. But he did damn near everything else, and you can hear it here: making his first tape at a San Antonio radio station in the mid-1950s; issuing singles on tiny labels like his own Willie Nelson Records; chafing under the MOR mentality at Liberty Records in the early 1960s as he recorded fine but not yet definitive versions of "Crazy" and "Hello Walls." It's worth coping with the Hollywood gloss of the Liberty sides (here in full) to soak in Nelson's creamy croon. There is also a lot of rough, rockin' Texas in 1950s singles such as "Man With the Blues," in which he sings like a hill-country Sinatra over a hot plate of Western swing.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

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.

    X

    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

    “Nightshift”

    The Commodores | 1984

    The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com