1973, Music

Shotgun Willie (1973) by Willie Nelson

The evolution of country music has been, needless to say, very different from the evolution of pop rock music. That evolution, which began later, and which is still very much ongoing, is something I am only partially familiar with, and it is an evolution that is often measured in very slight deviations and innovations, compared to, say, the quantum leaps taken by popular music in 1966 and 1967. So every time I listen to a country album that is supposed to be innovative in some way, I’m always at a bit of a loss, both because I lack some of the context to understand the innovation and also because of the granularity of the innovation.

This record is one of those records. Ostensibly a big departure the sound of Nashville at the time, it sounds to my ears just a bit more rock and just a bit more soulful than my (few) other country reference points of the era. At times it sounds quite traditional (especially in comparison to the country rock of the era that I am far more familiar with).

But there are horns on the odd song – shock! horror! – and funky rhythms that are downright contemporary on the odd other song. And Nelon’s lyrics are self-aware enough to give a bit of a hint of modernity.

There’s still quite the clash between the traditional and the modern. And I’m not sure that this would rank among his best sets of songs – I’d have no idea about that. So I don’t know – I think this is good.


All tracks written by Willie Nelson, except where noted.

  1. “Shotgun Willie” 2:40
  2. “Whiskey River” Johnny Bush, Paul Stroud 4:05
  3. “Sad Songs and Waltzes” 3:08
  4. “Local Memory” 2:19
  5. “Slow Down Old World” 2:54
  6. “Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer)” (Bob Wills, Tommy Duncan) 2:36
  7. “Devil in a Sleepin’ Bag” 2:40
  8. “She’s Not for You” 3:15
  9. “Bubbles in My Beer” (Tommy Duncan, Cindy Walker, Bob Wills) 2:34
  10. “You Look Like the Devil” (Leon Russell) 3:26
  11. “So Much to Do” 3:11
  12. “A Song for You” (Leon Russell) 4:20
  • Willie Nelson – vocals, acoustic guitar
  • Steve Burgh – electric guitar, acoustic guitar
  • James Clayton Day – dobro, pedal steel guitar, background vocals
  • Bobbie Nelson – piano
  • Mickey Raphael – harmonica
  • Jeff Gutcheon – electric piano, organ
  • Dan “Bee” Spears – bass
  • Paul English – drums
  • Steve Mosley – drums
  • Wayne Jackson – trumpet
  • Andrew Love – tenor saxophone
  • James Mitchell – baritone saxophone
  • Jack Hale, Sr. – trombone
  • Dave Bromberg – electric guitar
  • John Goldthwaite – electric guitar
  • Dee Moeller – background vocals
  • Larry Gatlin – background vocals
  • Arif Mardin – string arrangement
  • Doug Sahm – electric guitar, background vocals
  • Waylon Jennings – acoustic guitar, background vocals
  • Augie Meyers – acoustic guitar
  • Johnny Gimble – fiddle
  • Jimmy Day – pedal steel guitar
  • Jessi Colter – background vocals
  • Hugh McDonald – bass
  • Willie Bridges – baritone saxophone
  • Red Lane – acoustic guitar
  • Jack Barber – bass
  • George Rains – drums
  • Donny Hathaway – string arrangement

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