on March 24, 2003
I'm a native Texan so I grew up hearing Willie Nelson. Nelson is a sacrament to me. I'm really a hard rockin', Motorhead banging rock n' rollin man at heart. Then there's Willie. I'm a relatively young (30) year old fan. I wrote Mr. Nelson a letter telling him how I played lead guitar along with his songs. He sent me a real, autographed photo! How cool is that? O.k. the DVD . . . Being a musician, I've watched and been to a lot of concerts. The music performed on this dvd is flawless, the best I've seen, absolutely perfect harmony, technically and emotionally. Willie plays guitar fluidly, seemingly effortlessly. He sings casually, and with a smile throughout the show. It's great to see a performer smile. I mean come on, you're blessed, smile and enjoy the limelight! Every member of the family (band) is right on, flawlessly following Nelson's lead and trading the lead so smoothly. Some of the guitar is the best I've EVER seen. All songs played with heart, soul and it's a long show. Buy this dvd for yourself and then get one for a friend, it's that good. Even though the hole in "Trigger" is getting pretty big, I think Willie is actually getting better with age. He truly is an American song writing legend. See him shine on this disk, and do yourself a favor and go to one of his shows, he'll make you feel good. God bless you Willie, sister Bobby and the rest, really. Look me up next time yer in Dallas! :o)
on November 13, 2001
I've been to about 100 or so of Willie's shows over the years. And this DVD is exactly like being there. Maybe better, since looking over Bobbie's shoulder is difficult when you're sitting in row J.
This is not a slick production. A number of amateurish zoom ins, a few too many shots of the same group of fans, close-ups of members of the "Family" not doing a solo. This seems part of the charm.
Willie's songlist rarely changes, because he knows most of his fans want and expect to hear their old favorites. (Criticizing Willie for singing "Always On My Mind" again is like saying Sinatra should've hung up "My Way" around '79.) This concert captured a particularly good rendition of "Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground", a song which, despite being played every night, never quite comes out the same way twice. Willie and Trigger were verymuch in sync that night.
Bottom line- if you've been to a Willie Nelson show, this a great reminder of how much fun you had. If you haven't, here's an idea of what you're missing.
on December 1, 2004
If you are reading this you probably already know that Willie is one of the most creative, powerful, and diverse performers of all time. In this review, I'm not going to rate the albums, just offer some insights into the CD's and DVD's that I have purchased - and I'm glad I've purchased them all.
"The Essential Willie Nelson" is essential. Be that as it may, Willie's individual CD's are so strong and the songs are so interrelated, often in a story or a tight thematic format, that they almost make the "essential" Willie Nelson unessential - but it is such a great collection of songs, that you can't get as easily any other way. Definitely worth the buy.
"The Red Headed Stranger" is one of the greatest albums of all time. It is pure genius. If you get the 70th birthday edition, you get a remastered track and extra songs. There are no less than six "A" level songs on this CD, nothing short of amazing. Plus, you get fourteen minutes of great story telling. As a story teller, Willie is only rivaled by Native American artist Robert Mirabal ("Indians Indians", "Taos Tales", "Music From A Painted Cave", "Mirabal", etc.).
"Willie and Family Live", done around 1975, is a great live album. It has lots of energy. A highlight for me was Willie Nelson, Emmy Lou Harris, and Johnny Paycheck singing "Amazing Grace" together. It also contains the fourteen minute story of the Red Headed Stranger, including "Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain". This live performance of Willie's first #1 hit is the best I have heard on any album. There is a little extra "oomph" on every song in the CD. Again, make sure you get the 70th birthday edition, it has extra goodies.
If you like the early super hits that Willie wrote for everyone else, like "Crazy", "Night Life", and "Funny How Time Slips Away", then you need to also get the "Milk Cow Blues" CD. Willie performs these and more Blues standards, usually in a duet format, with outstanding artists such as B.B. King - Rolling Stone Magazine's choice as the 3rd greatest guitarist of all time. Hearing BB and Willie strum and sing together on "Night Life" and "The Thrill is Gone" is indeed a thrill. Willie performs this album with a first class Blues band and it is a first class Blues album.
Willie's latest album, "It Will Always Be" is once again a solid piece of work. Duets with Norah Jones and Lucinda Williams help make it special, but the best part of this album is the haunting duet of Willie and Paula Nelson on the song "It Will Always Be". This is a song that hits you in the gut, and it rivals Bruce Springstein's "Streets of Philadelphia" in terms of its raw emotion. A number of people, including me, cried the first time they heard it: "I'm tied of this and I'm running out of time; feels like dyin', feels like cryin'; and I'm running out of time." Say it ain't so, Willie!! A second good song was written by another member of the Nelson clan. The title song is very beautiful. The tribute to the land Willie loves, "Texas", is too short but very meaningful. If this was Willie's last CD, he went out as "The Midnight Rider", a great song for the leader of the outlaw movement: "They ain't gonna catch me, I ain't go let `em catch the Midnight Rider."
"Spirit" and "Teatro" are brother/sister CDs. Both have a strong thematic core, although they are not stories. "Spirit" is one of those rare CD's when every note seems important. For most, you'll listen to it less than the other CD's, but love it equally as much. For a few, you'll play it by the hours. It is essentially a story of coping with lost love, redefining your relationship with yourself and with God, and finding love again. The music and the whole CD are moderately paced, with a strong, steady spiritual tone to it. It has a light Latin sound, essential to Willie's roots. Pictures of Willie on this album look like he came from an ancient Holy Land.
"Teatro" is the mirror of "Spirit". Again, it is a story of coping with lost love, but the story goes south, ending in murder and psychological ruin. Teatro means "theater" in Spanish and this is good to keep in mind in listening to the CD. It is just a play folks! The CD is very hard-hitting, because Willie's music is very hard-hitting and very close to the heart. The music tends to have a lively beat, with strong Latin overtones. Its haunting nature is reinforced by Emmy Lou Harris, who accompanies Willie on most of the songs. The back picture on the back of the CD case is one of the best pictures of Willie ever taken.
The "My Life" DVD is well worth the buy. The story ends before the 90's, but there is a brief update. I knew about Willie and Farm Aid, but I didn't know about the scope of his philanthropy and the diversity of populations targeted in his giving until this DVD. I was also amazed to learn that he paid his $16 million IRS debt off in one year, selling $17 million worth of songs as info-mercials to radio stations. That's a lot of love, translated into a lot of power.
A number of people criticize the "Live In Amsterdam" DVD and some of the criticisms are merited. But hey, the DVD has a large collection of great songs. Some criticisms are not fair. You perform differently and 70 than you do at 40, it is a biological rule. Willie's shows have always moved quickly from one song to the other, so the pace of the concert is nothing new. The love from the audience is shown at the end when Willie is signing autograph after autograph. The bottom line is this, if you like Willie, if you would like to watch him live occasionally instead of just hearing him through the box, and if you want those images of him at 70, then you should buy this DVD. You'll find it worthwhile.
In the final analysis, the raw power of Willie's work, formed by singing in the cotton fields with Black and Mexican laborers, and his keen insight into what people really want in music, formed not through record company analysis but through live performances on the ground, make Willie Nelson one of the most creative, powerful, and loved performers of all time.
on November 23, 2002
Me and my husband have been Willie fans for over 26 years. This video is excellent. We watch it alot. Oh sure, they are all getting a little older (who isn't), but we think they have never been better. It doesn't have the real high energy of say, the highwaymen video's, but this is Willie and his band, doing what they have always done, playing great songs. Even if you own some Willie video's, you know that everytime he does a song, he doesn't do it the same way. I try not to pass up a chance to own a Willie video. If your a true Willie fan, you will truely appreciate this video.
on January 28, 2002
The video of the Willie Nelson's concert at Amsterdam
This is a whole concert with all the "tubes" (Crazy, Blue eyes crying in the rain, Roll in my sweet babie's arms, Seven spanish angels, Till I gain control again, Me and Paul...), "new standards", (Fast train to Georgia), and remarkable interpretations of Hank Williams (Jambalaya) or Ernest Tubbs. At the end of the concert, Willie Nelson even proposed quite half an hour of additional songs !!!
Willie's unique voice - with all of it's well known effects (at the very end of "Allways one my mind", Willie's voice falls abruptly of an octave, on profound D !...) - is more and more raucous, and is amazingly more and more continuing to sing "not in the beat but over it"... More than never, Willie is true to himself, and "never sings a song twice in the same way" !... Each song has allways a recognizable bottom line, but Willie allows himself to escape many times from the original melody... so that well known songs may really differ considerably from the original, like To all the girls I've loved before, Kristofferson's Take the ribbon from your to hair or Willie's really sublime Angel flying too to the ground (really sublime in this cassette, especially because of an sublime accompaniment in the second part of the song). Be taken by the surprise of these variations is allways a nice pleasure for the connoisseurs ! Instrumental parts of the songs, improvisations with Willie's legendary broken guitarre, are extremely moving, so inspired was Wiullie that evening ! And, last but not least, Willie Nelson has a wonderfull way to reflect each note, each moment of the music on his face, and to share all kinds of signs of frienship with his public...
All in all, Willie has never gone so far and has been better !!!