The first release under the artist’s historic new deal with Legacy, Heroes is essential Willie Nelson, a seamless collection of top-flight pop-country songs (including covers from the 30s and 40s and new songs by Willie, his sons, Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson, and more) performed with the easy-going homespun warmth and honesty that have become his trademarks.
Produced by Buddy Cannon, Heroes was mainly recorded by Steve Chadie at Pedernales Recording Studio in Austin, Texas (with three tracks–“Hero,” “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” and “Come On Back Jesus”–recorded by Butch Carr at Cannon Productions and Sound Emporium Recording Studios in Nashville).
Backing Willie and his guitar, Trigger, on Heroes is The “Roll Me Up” Band featuring Kevin “Swine” Grantt (bass), Bobby Terry (electric guitar, acoustic guitar), Jim “Moose” Brown (piano, Wurlitzer, B-3 organ), Mike Johnson (steel guitar), Tony Creasman (drums), Mickey Raphael (harmonica), Lukas Nelson (electric guitar).
Additional musicians on the record include Paul Shaffer (B-3 organ), Butch Carr (synthesizer), Steve Brewster (drums) and producer Buddy Cannon (bass, acoustic guitar). Melonie Cannon, Buddy Cannon, Lance Miller and Kris Kristofferson contribute background vocals toHeroes.
The album opens with Willie and Merle Haggard joining forces on a powerful new rendition of Wayne (“The Letter,” “Always On My Mind”) Carson’s “A Horse Called Music” (the title song from Willie’s 1989 album) then tears into the rollicking “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” one of the album’s new Willie Nelson songs (this one cowritten with Buddy Cannon, Rich Alves, John Colgin and Mike McQuerry with the recording featuring special guests Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson).
Other brand-new Willie Nelson compositions making their debut on Heroes are “Hero,” featuring guest appearances by Jamey Johnson and Billy Joe Shaver, and “Come On Back Jesus” (co-written with Buddy Cannon and Micah Nelson) featuring Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson.
The collection includes producer Buddy Cannon’s new composition, “That’s All There Is To This Song” and three tunes penned by Lukas Nelson–“No Place To Fly,” “Every Time He Drinks He Thinks of Her,” and “The Sound of Your Memory” (cowritten with Elizabeth Rainey). Lukas performs with his dad on several of the album’s tracks including a droll soulful take on the Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan composition, “Come On Up To The House,” sung with Sheryl Crow.
Willie revisits the roots of classic country with three pre-rock gems: the 1930’s ballad “My Window Faces The South,” Fred Rose’s immortal “Home In San Antone” from 1943, and 1949’s “Cold War With You,” a still timely take on the battle of the sexes with guest artist Ray Price. (Price made Willie’s composition, “Night Life,” a smash in 1960 and Willie served as a member of Ray’s band, the Cherokee Cowboys).
Willie’s interpretation of Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” featured in an acclaimed animated short film produced by Chipotle to demonstrate the company’s commitment to sustainably raised food, is featured on Heroes.
The album’s focus track is Willie’s sublime interpretation of Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe,” performed with Lukas.
Willie Nelson – Heroes
1. “A Horse Called Music”
Merle Haggard & Lukas Nelson
2. “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die”
Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson
3. “That’s All There Is To This Song”
4. “No Place To Fly”
5. “Every Time He Drinks He Thinks Of Her”
6. “Come On Up To The House”
Lukas Nelson & Sheryl Crow
Billy Joe Shaver, Jamey Johnson
8. “My Window Faces The South”
9. “The Sound Of Your Memory”
10. “Cold War With You”
Lukas Nelson & Ray Price
11. “Just Breathe”
12. “My Home In San Antone”
13. “Come On Back Jesus”
Lukas Nelson & Micah Nelson
14. “The Scientist”
Heroes marks the first release in a historic new record deal between Willie Nelson and Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, announced in early February. The deal marks a label homecoming for Nelson, who, from 1975-1993, cut a phenomenal string of top-selling singles and albums for Columbia Records, beginning with 1975’s seminal smash Red Headed Stranger.
“I’m really happy to be back home with Sony Music. We have been partners for many years; all the way back to Pamper Music and Tree Music. We share a great history, and I’m looking forward to many more years together,” said Willie Nelson.
Forthcoming Willie Nelson titles under the Legacy imprint will include newly recorded songs and performances as well as archival releases, personally curated by the artist, drawn from all phases of his career including his recordings for RCA Records and others.
As curator of his catalog, Willie will work with label archivists to select recordings, including previously released and previously unreleased tracks, for release in newly compiled collections and as bonus material on new editions of existing titles. The newly curated Willie Nelson titles will provide fresh perspective and context to the artist’s profoundly influential and successful career.
With a six-decade career and a catalog of more than 200 albums to his credit, the iconic Texas singer-songwriter Willie Nelson has earned a permanent position in pop music’s pantheon with songs that combine the sophistication of Tin Pan Alley with the rough-and-tumble grit and emotional honesty of country music. He brought pop and country together on the radio in the early 1960s with unforgettable songs like “Crazy” (Patsy Cline), “Hello Walls” (Faron Young), “Funny How Time Slips Away” (Billy Walker), “Night Life” (Ray Price) and others and, by the mid-1970s, had become a superstar in his own right as a prime mover of a revolutionary and thriving outlaw country music scene. The Red Headed Stranger, Willie’s first album for Columbia Records in 1975, catapulted the artist to the front ranks of popularity, making his a familiar name in country and city households across America and around-the-world.
A seven-time Grammy Award winner, Willie Nelson has received numerous accolades including American Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards, Country Music Association Awards and others. He is a co-founder of Farm Aid, an annual series of fundraising events which began as an all-star benefit concert in 1985 to raise money for American family farmers. He continues to lobby against horse slaughter and produces his own blend of biodiesel fuel. An old-school road-dog troubadour with new school wheels, Willie plays concerts year-round, tirelessly touring on Honeysuckle Rose III (he rode his first two buses into the ground), taking his music and fans to places that are always worth the ride.
Source: Legacy Recordings
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