Friday, July 11, 2014

Willie Nelson - City of New Orleans

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of City of New Orleans, the 1984 album release from Willie Nelson. This one reached number 69 on the US Billboard Hot 100 (with a twenty-six week chart time), number 62 on the Canadian pop chart, number 24 on the Canadian Country chart and number 1 on the US Billboard Country chart.

Side one starts with the title track, a song written and recorded by Steve Goodman in 1971. Nelson's version went to number 30 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, number 3 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart, and number 1 on both the Canadian and the US Country charts. Unlike the original, this one is a bit more up-tempo and gives the song a lighter feel. I am not sure how that fits in with the song’s bittersweet remembrance of railroad travel but that is the way Nelson went with it.

"Just Out of Reach" is a gentle swaying ballad of love lost, done in Nelson’s familiar style.

Danny O'Keefe had a chart crossing hit in 1972 with his song "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues". Nelson's version, which remains faithful to O’Keefe’s slower tempo version, went to number 30 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, number 3 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart, and number 1 on the Canadian and US Country charts.

"Why Are You Pickin' On Me" is the only track on the album written by Nelson. It features a quick-step rhythm for you to tap your foot along to.

"She's Out of My Life", written by Tom Bahler, first appeared on Michael Jackson's 1979 album Off The Wall (click here for that review). Nelson does a good job with it, but Jackson’s definitive version is so burned in my music memory that it cannot be dethroned.

Side two opens with "Cry", a song written by Churchill Kohlman in 1951 and made famous by Johnnie Ray and the Four Lads. Many artists have covered it over the years, including country singers Lynn Anderson in 1972 and Crystal Gayle in 1986. Nelson’s version has a jazz-country fused accompaniment to it.

Dave Loggins had a hit in 1974 with his song "Please Come to Boston". Nelson slows it down a bit more, a move that does not work so well for me.

"It Turns Me Inside Out", written by Jan Crutchfield, was first recorded on Lee Greenwood’s 1981 debut album Inside Out.

Roger Whittaker was the first artist to record "Wind Beneath My Wings" back in 1982. Sheena Easton did her version that same year on her album Madness, Money & Magic (click here for that review). In 1983, Lou Rawls, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and country singer Gary Morris followed suit. And I would be neglect to mention that Bette Midler had a huge hit in 1989 when she recorded the song for the Beachessoundtrack.

The album closes with "Until It's Time For You To Go", which was written and recorded in 1965 by Canadian singer Buffy Sainte-Marie. Many big name recording artists have covered this tune. Nelson flips the genders around (as did Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Jim Croce and Glen Campbell, to name a few) on this story of a man and woman who are in love but cannot be together because they come from different worlds.

This was my first listen to Willie Nelson’s City of New Orleans album. I liked it okay; he picks a variety of songs from across the decades to cover here and does a good job with most of them.

For more of my album reviews featuring Willie Nelson, click here.


HERC said...

Is it true you celebrated not one but two anniversaries this week?

How lucky are you?

Congratulations on both.

Martin Maenza said...

Herc, two? I know my wedding anniversary (24 years) was Monday. What is the second one you were referring to?

HERC said...

How lucky are you? Was a clue.
Figure it out yet?
It's the 7th anniversary of...

Martin Maenza said...

Oh, right! Today is the 7th anniversary of the start of Martin's View. :) Thanks, buddy!