Lost In Willie Nelson's Achingly Intimate Spirit
This article is from our friends at Trunkworthy
Willie’s made over 100 albums, but it’s the quiet, contemplative, achingly beautiful Spirit that brings us to tears every time.
The concept of “a special Willie Nelson album” may be hard for many to get a handle on. Few musicians have been as prolific: The American musical icon has to date released 80 solo studio albums and more than two dozen collaborative sets, and has made countless guest appearances on others’ records. He has long been compulsive in the studio; he owns a couple of studios, in fact, and is entitled to use them as he sees fit.
One of three records Willie released in a 12-month period in 1995-96, Spirit is one of his very greatest—a special album in every way. But it managed to elude the attention of all but the most hardcore Nelson enthusiasts.
That’s a pity, for that beautiful, indelible, and unjustly obscure release surely deserved the success of such popular Nelson opuses as Red Headed Stranger,Stardust, and Always on My Mind; it’s as personal and as profoundly expressed as his Phases and Stages, The Troublemaker, and To Lefty From Willie, and as different from those albums as they are from one another. Spare and operating at an emotional high pitch, Spirit is a perfect blend of ardent songwriting and musical virtuosity, distinguished by the resonant interplay of a gifted and durable brother-and-sister act.
The majority of Spirit is an extended conversation between two distinctive instrumental voices. Willie’s piano-playing sister Bobbie Nelson got her start as a musician barnstorming across Texas with traveling evangelists, and her heavily chorded work on the album is straight out of church. (Appropriately, Willie and Bobbie released a duet album of gospel songs, Farther Along, earlier this year; a second collaborative effort, December Day, is due next month.)
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