"The Essential Willie Nelson" - Nelson, Willie

Compilation Album

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Full Track Listing:

Disc One:
  • Night Life
  • Hello Walls
  • Crazy
  • Funny How Time Slips Away
  • I Never Cared for You
  • The Party’s Over
  • Good Times
  • Me And Paul
  • Shotgun Willie
  • Bloody Mary Morning
  • Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
  • Good Hearted Woman (with Waylon Jennings)
  • If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time
  • Uncloudy Day
  • Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys (with Waylon Jennings)
  • Georgia on My Mind
  • Blue Skies
  • All of Me
  • Heartbreak Hotel (with Leon Russell)
  • Help Me Make It Through the Night
  • Whiskey River (live)
  • Stay a Little Longer (live)
    Disc Two:
  • My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys
  • Faded Love (with Ray Price)
  • On the Road Again
  • Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground
  • Always on My Mind
  • Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning
  • Pancho & Lefty (with Merle Haggard)
  • To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before (with Julio Iglesias)
  • City of New Orleans
  • Seven Spanish Angels (with Ray Charles)
  • Forgiving You Was Easy
  • Highwayman
  • Living in the Promiseland
  • Nothing I Can Do About It Now
  • Graceland
  • Everywhere I Go (with Emmylou Harris)
  • Slow Dancing (U2 featuring Willie Nelson, Mickey Raphael on harmonica)
  • Mendocino County Line (with Lee Ann Womack)
  • One Time Too Many (with Steven Tyler and Aerosmith)

Background Information

This two disc compilation of Willie Nelson songs stretches throughout his career. Initially release in North America in April of 2003, it was later released worldwide in 2005. In 2009, the CD was reissued in North America again, this time titled “Essential Willie Nelson 3.0” and featuring a third disc added to the collection, while the first two discs remained the same. This 3.0 release was released in environmentally friendly cardboard packaging while earlier releases were in plastic jewel cases.

The song that U2 recorded with Willie Nelson and Mickey Raphael is included here. “Slow Dancing,” was a song that Bono had written for Willie Nelson in 1989. It was initially released, in a sparse, acoustic version without any input from Nelson himself, as a b-side in 1993 on the “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)” single. In 1997, U2 finally had the opportunity to record the song with Willie Nelson and harmonica player Micheal “Mickey” Raphael, who has been playing with Nelson since the early 70s. The version of the song included here is identical to the version that U2 released on the b-side of the single for “If God Will Send His Angels”.

Included in the liner notes for the CD are quotes from many artists who have worked with Nelson over the years taken from wishes sent to Nelson on his 70th birthday. The Edge says “Willie epitomizes everything great about America, loose, cool, unpretentious, earthy but ultra sharp, born from a mix of all kinds of influences: racial, cultural and musical but in the end unmistakably himself.” Bono comments “Willie Nelson lives in a town called Luck but you know he’s never had any. He never needed it. He has something much more powerful. Faith. Faith in God, faith in himself, faith in his music’s ability to transcend the mundane by observing it, faith in his story telling but unusually for a brilliant lyricist Willie has more faith in that other language that lies somewhere between the rhythm and silence of music – what’s not being said. Willie Nelson’s songs draw you in to the lyric but it’s the conversation you don’t hear that keep you coming back again and again – his songs are unknowable. Like Willie.”

This release is part of a series of albums by Sony Music, which also includes “The Essential Johnny Cash” which also includes a track with U2.

Liner Notes

Slow Dancing:
Performed by U2 featuring Willie Nelson and Mickey Raphael on harmonica. Music U2. Lyrics Bono & The Edge. Recorded 1997. From the U2 CD Single If God Will Send His Angels 314-572 189-2. Produced by Flood.

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