Artist: Willie Nelson
Album: For the Good Times
Label: Legacy Recordings
Release Date: 09/16/2016
At age 83, when most people have long since retired and put their work behind them, Willie Nelson remains as prodigious as ever. Maybe it’s whatever he’s smoking, but regardless, his imagination and energy seem to continue unabated. For the Good Times finds Willie’s returning to his roots, offering a tribute to his longtime friend Ray Price by covering a catalogue that ranks among the most memorable in country’s canon. Indeed, the set list reads like a veritable hit parade, with songs that not only contributed to Price’s catalogue, but encompass some of the greatest country music ever recorded.
Of course, Nelson himself had something to do with Price’s success. His song “Night Life” helped Price scale the charts in the early ‘60s, and when Nelson joined his touring band as bass player, the bond was secured. The two later recorded a duets album that became one of Nelson’s country classics. However, given Nelson’s penchant for diversifying his template, this return to his roots shows that even after all these years, and after all his crossover success, he’s still fond of the form that was essential to his earliest efforts. Hearing him sing such songs as “Heartaches by the Number,” “Crazy Arms,” “Night Life,” “Faded Love” and “For the Good Times” shows that down deep, Nelson’s still a country crooner on par with anyone in those realms, newcomer and veteran alike.
For this particular effort, Nelson enlists the help of an ad hoc, Grammy winning super group called The Time Jumpers, whose ranks include Vince Gill and pedal steel player Paul Franklin. That of course adds to the authenticity. However, it’s also evident from the outset that For the Good Times is everything its title suggests, a paean to times gone by and an era when country was really cool.
– Lee Zimmerman