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The Great Divide

3.9 out of 5 stars 95 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Though Willie Nelson has previously demonstrated that he can sing just about anything with just about anyone, The Great Divide shows there are some bridges even he shouldn't cross. An incongruous array of duet partners join Nelson on this attempt to attract a younger and wider demographic. The project follows the formula that paid such commercial dividends for Carlos Santana, down to the collaboration with matchbox twenty's Rob Thomas on the opening "Maria." Nelson proceeds to engage Kid Rock in a transgenerational gunslingers' duel on "Last Stand in Open Country," reaches a more comfortable accommodation with neo-soulster Brian McKnight on "Don't Fade Away," and meditates on the aging process with three melancholy ballads ("This Face," "Recollecting Phoenix," and "You Remain") that are likely to confound the pop-rock crowd the project seems so intent on converting. The rest of the material ranges from Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" to the psychedelic chestnut "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)"--already revived by Nelson on 2001's Rainbow Connection. Only the Gypsy-tinged title song rings as true as one typically expects from Willie. --Don McLeese
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 15, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Lost Highway
  • ASIN: B00005UNEA
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,709 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I purchased this album without hearing a track off of it, just because it's by country legend Willie Nelson. When I popped it into the system and gave it a couple listens,I decided to let you people out there know what you get. Rob Thomas, wrote 3 songs, 2 of which are Maria and Won't Catch Me Crying. The dude that writes for Elton John, Bernie Taupin co-wrote 3 songs. Willie only wrote one song, the title track, but it is a good one. The collaborations with Sheryl Crow and Brian McKnight offer positive messages. The Kid Rock track features good vocals from him, recalling his performance of "Only God Knows Why". Leeann Womack is also in fine voice on her duet with Willie. I would have like the closing track with Bonnie Raitt more if she and Willie flashed some guitar exchange. Willie offers another version of Just Dropped In, which features more studio tinkering than the version on 2001's Rainbow Connection. Overall, 10 songs out of the 12 are worth a listen. This is better than Rainbow Connection and Milk Cow Blues. I hope he releases the collaboration he has been working on with The Wailers. They should have included the wonderful song Bono of U2 wrote for him, "Slow Dancing" on this release.For more recent Willie, check out the great 1998 session: Teatro, and for a more countryfied release get 2000's Me and the Drummer.
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Format: Audio CD
A number of critics have heralded this album as an attempt for Willie to break into the pop music world. True, Willie has not had many Top 40 hits lately, but back in the late 70's and early 80's he was pop (or rather pop decided that Willie was okay). A number of critics have also said that this attempt is an unwise move on Willie's part. I think Willie's reached an age where he doesn't really give a hoot 'n hell what anyone thinks about his musical choices (as if he ever did). That aside, I think the album is pretty good; it's certainly better than last year's Rainbow Connection--which did have its charm. The sound of the album is very polished and "The Great Divide" does stand out as one song that is close to the classic stripped down Willie style. However, I don't think this is a bad thing. "Just Dropped In" is rendered better on this album than RC's version--some songs just need a big sound. It is a trip to hear Willie sing a Cyndia Lauper tune, but he is God afterall, so it works. I was surprised at the number of Bernie Taupin songs (hence the title of this review), and equally surpirsed how good they were. Maybe Bernie should take a leave from Elton and move to Austin for a spell. I seem to be rambling. In any case, I think this album is his best album since Teatro, but not quite as good. A thoroughly entertaining and lively album. I had originally given the album three stars, but as I overlook what I have written, I'll give him another star. I may not be the best critic to listen to since I am a bit biased towards the man (he and James Joyce fight for possession of my soul every day of my life--Willie wins today since I just got this album; however, Jimmy might win out tomorrow if I reread the "Circe" episode for my thesis as planned). In any case, if you are the type of person who thinks Willie Nelson advised Prince Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita you will enjoy this album.
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Format: Audio CD
Listen people, its time to get some things straight. First of all, be your own judge when making decisions about this record. This is not Stardust. When Willie is ready for that kinda recording again he will make it known. This album is pure with intent and it is straight from his heart as usual. I was first dismayed by the reviews I read here. I thought, "damn", he sold out. But I had not even listened to any songs yet. This is a GREAT album. One that is to be revered for a long time. In the wake of all the tradgedy in the world, this guy has what it takes to offer so much happiness to his fans and newbies. Second of all, I would not have asked him to change anything on this album. It is rich with new ideas and you will be able to see he is a very focused individual. The more an entertainer grows with music, the more they will reach out and expand on what they have already done. I sincerely ask you all to give this a try. I think the highlight song is "You Remain" with Bonnie Riatt. Moreover, listen to the messages in each song because music is so universal. It gives us a piece of the entertainers heart. That is something you can hold onto forever.
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By A Customer on January 29, 2002
Format: Audio CD
But I just was not taken with this album. It sounds, to me, not pop in the radio-pop sense, but like adult contemporary pop: bland and soulless at times. In other words, much of it sounds more like the living room than a juke joint off an open road. It's the drums and the background vocals that bother me. My least favorite has to be the opening track, too Rob Thomas-y. That said, Thomas' Recollection Phoenix is one of the best tracks, one that compensates for some of the others. The Kid Rock duo was relieving, except towards the end when Kid Rock starts to sound like a honky-tonk Rod Stewart. I was disappointed with Time After Time; his off-rhythm singing seems almost calculated and unnatural compared to the usual loose style that we love him for. Best song, of course, is the title track (for which I purchased this album).
An overall ambivalent album. But the title track and Recollection Phoenix are outstanding, and there are more good songs in there. Worth buying if you already like Willie, but for those who are new, don't let this album be an introduction to the man since it's not his best.
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