Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Willie Nelson - Without a Song

Despite the title of today's thirtieth anniversary album, Willie Nelson is clearly never Without a Song. At the end of this post, you will see links to four other albums that Nelson put out during the eighteen month period from February 1982 to October of 1983. This album, a collection of standards from the 1930's and 1940's, reached number 85 in Australia, number 54 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 35 on the Canadian pop chart, number 3 on the Canadian Country chart, and number 2 on the US Billboard Country chart. It was a Platinum seller in the US.

The gentle title track opens side one. As the first single from the album, Nelson's "Without a Song" climbed to number 11 on the US Billboard Country chart and number 3 on the Canadian Country chart. The song was originally written in 1929 and was part of the musical play Great Day. Others who have recorded it include Perry Como, Nelson Eddy, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, George Benson, the Isley Brothers, and the Supremes.

"Once in a While" was written in 1937 and was a hit first for the Tommy Dorsey band. Nelson follows in the tradition of Patti Page, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan in covering this classic love song. Nelson’s sister Bobby Lee is features on the piano here.

"Autumn Leaves" was written in 1945 by a French composer. I like the touch of the sorrowful harmonica solo in the center of this rendition.

"I Can't Begin to Tell You" first appeared in the film The Dolly Sisters in 1945, and later that year Bing Crosby had a hit recording with it. Nelson released it as the B-side to the first and second singles.

Written in 1937, "Harbor Lights" had been recorded by Sammy Kaye, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, the Platters and more. Nelson's version was released as the second single from this album.

Side two begins with "Golden Earrings". The original song appeared in the 1947 film of the same name, sung by Peggy Lee.

"You'll Never Know", written in 1943, is a song based on a poem by Dorothy Fern Norris, an Oklahoma war bride.

From 1946 we have "To Each His Own".

"As Time Goes By" was most famously done in the 1942 motion picture Casablanca though it was first written in 1931 for the Broadway musical Everybody's Welcome. Julio Iglesias joins Nelson on the vocals here.

"A Dreamer's Holiday", written in 1949, was first a hit for Perry Como.

Without a Song is a very mellow album, good for unwinding after a long stressful day. Willie Nelson delivers a safe yet pleasing performance through out. Having been born in the early 1930’s, I am sure many of these were songs he heard through out his childhood. I was only familiar with a handful of them.

For more Willie Nelson album reviews, check below:

- For 1982’s Always On My Mind, click here.

- For 1983’s Take It to the Limit with Waylon Jennings, click here.

- For Poncho and Lefty with Merle Haggard, click here.

- For Tougher Than Leather, click here.

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