Thirty-two years on and Sony Legacy release Django & Jimmie which finds Nelson and Haggard reunited once again. This is Nelson's sixth album, following Heroes, Let's Face The Music And Dance, To All The Girls, Band Of Brothers and December Day: Willie's Stash, Vol. 1, for Sony Legacy since signing a deal with the label back in 2012.
The title track is a tribute to guitarist Django Reinhardt and country music legend Jimmie Rodgers, the ‘Singing Brakeman.’ There is also a tribute to the Man in Black with Missing Ol’ Johnny Cash and a nod to the cannabis culture with It’s All Going To Pot. Both artists pay tribute to each other with Nelson covering Haggard’s Somewhere Between and Merle covering Nelson’s Family Bible and they turn to the Bob Dylan songbook for a sublime cover of Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright. Other highlights include Alice In Hulaland, Where Dreams Come To Die and Live This Long.
As Nelson said, “It’s good music, I got a good feeling about it.” This album should appeal to anyone who loves ‘real’ country music and likes the music of either artist and not only for the fact that it contains a track about Johnny Cash!
The album explores the relationship between pop, rock, folk and country music through a varied selection of music that defines an American era.
When Dylan decided to record his album Blonde On Blond in Nashville, back in 1966, he opened the door to other artists who headed to Music City and it’s excellent and versatile group of session musicians, the ‘Nashville Cats’, to record during the late-1960s and into the 1970s.
Dylan would go on to record in Nashville again with his albums John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline, the latter which featured Johnny Cash on the track Girl From The North Country. It was back in 1964 at the Newport Folk Festival that Cash and Dylan forged a friendship that lasted until Cash’s death in 2013. During the sessions for Nashville Skyline both artists recorded several tracks which remain unreleased.
Many of these artists also appeared on ‘The Johnny Cash Show’, recorded at the famous Ryman Auditorium, giving them a new audience and wider appeal.
There are so many great tracks and it is impossible to pick any out for special mention but personal favourites include Absolutely Sweet Marie (Bob Dylan), You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (The Byrds), Gentle On My Mind (John Hartford), Driftin’ Way Of Life (Jerry Jeff Walker), the previously unreleased version of If Not For You (Bob Dylan with Lloyd Green) and Silver Wings (Earl Scruggs with Linda Ronstadt).
Time magazine noted, “Nashville has a reputation, and a well-earned one too: the Tennessee city is the home of country music. But, as the Country Music Hall of Fame points out with a new exhibition,,, that deserved reputation doesn’t mean that Nashville’s musical horizons are limited to one genre alone.” The thirty-six tracks on this set just help reinforce that statement.
He talks candidly about his early years, many years before Farm Aid, Honeysuckle Rose and The Highwaymen. He doesn’t shy away from the problems with the IRS, his on-going support for Pot and much more. Family and friends come first for Willie despite being a ladies man and having been married three times. Always out on the road he doesn’t deny that he cheated many times.
Of particular interest to me are the stories of his work with Waylon Jennings and the outlaw movement, his friendship and work with Johnny Cash and as part of the Highwaymen.
Written from his heart this book covers his feelings and thoughts on many subjects but of most interest is the story behind the songs.
As he sang in On The Road Again… “The life I love is making music with my friends, and I can’t wait to get on the road again."
Those lyrics sum up Willie Nelson’s life and his story makes for an enjoyable read, Highly recommended..