“Ray was as a close a friend as you could have,” says Willie Nelson of fellow country legend Ray Price, who passed away in 2013. “We traveled together, lived together, played music together, partied together. . . and had a lot of good times.”
They also worked together, in many different musical fashions. Around 1960, Price signed Nelson to his publishing company, Pamper Music, where the future Red Headed Stranger wrote songs and sang demos for other artists. (One of those tunes included “Night Life,” which Price himself recorded.) The elder artist also enlisted his new employee to perform in his touring band, the Cherokee Cowboys. And the singers recorded three albums together: 1980’s San Antonio Rose, 2003’s Run That By Me One More Time and 2007’s Last of the Breed, also featuring Merle Haggard.
Nelson remembers his dear friend and boss with For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price, out today (September 16th). The LP’s 12 classic Price tunes include “Make the World Go Away,” “Crazy Arms” and “Heartaches By the Number.” Nelson recorded the project at Nashville’s Ocean Way Studios, the same place Price crafted his final album, Beauty Is… He also enlisted Price’s producer, Fred Foster (who signed Nelson to Monument Records in 1964), for the tribute album, which was arranged by Price’s conductor, Bergen White.
The Time Jumpers, a beloved Western swing band featuring Vince Gill and some of Nashville’s most celebrated musicians, join Nelson on half the album’s tracks. Watch them collaborate on “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)” here.
Nelson headlines this weekend’s Outlaw Festival in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Neil Young and Promise of the Real will also perform, along with Lee Ann Womack, Brothers Osborne, Chris Robinson Brotherhood and Sheryl Crow.