Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Most Productive Week For Shotgun Willie

Willie Nelson turns 75 today, and he shows few signs of slowing down. Willie's been an American institution for several decades, but had he retired from music back in 1963, when he was a clean-shaven songwriter, he'd still merit his own flavor of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream.

Why? Well, during one seven-day stretch in Houston -- probably in 1959 or 1960 -- he wrote "Crazy," "Funny How Time Slips Away," and "Night Life." By 1963, each of those tunes had become big hits (for other singers).

Forty-five years later, we now know just how big those songs have become. Simply put, during that one week in Houston, Willie penned three standards. Quite a feat.

I'm not sure what Willie's doing for his 75th birthday, but when he turned 70, he celebrated with an all-star concert that featured a lot of his friends and admirers. There's one clip from that concert that always brings tears to my eyes.

Maybe you can make it through this rendition of Leon Russell's "A Song For You" with dry eyes, but I can't and neither could Willie. About a month after this performance, Willie's good buddy Ray Charles was diagnosed with liver cancer. Ray died about a year later. Watch the video. These guys loved each other.

Happy Birthday, Willie.

No comments: