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One By Willie

  • S5 E10: Lucinda Williams on “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground”

    3 APR 2024 · This week, one of America’s greatest living poets, singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, celebrates the easy beauty of one of Willie’s most cherished songs, “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.” From there she’ll get into how inspiring it was to first see Willie do his thing when she moved to Austin in 1974; how weird it was, when she moved back to Austin in the 80s, to live in a run-down apartment complex-cum-artist’s colony that Willie owned on South Congress—sharing it with the old boyfriend, Clyde Woodward, she would immortalize in her song, “Lake Charles”—and what an absolute honor it was, twenty years later, to cut a duet with Willie on another of her songs, “Overtime.”
    34 min. 19 sec.
  • S5 E9: Lana Nelson on “Red Headed Stranger”

    27 MAR 2024 · This week, Willie’s first-born, daughter Lana Nelson, talks about one of the songs her dad used to sing to her at bedtime, “Red Headed Stranger,” calling his breakthrough 1975 recording of it one of the first times an album of his sounded the way he did at home. From there she’ll walk us through some wonderful family dodging rent-hungry landlords during the lean years, her dad’s hog farm/commune outside Nashville through the RCA years, and the session with Merle Haggard that produced “Pancho and Lefty.”
    42 min. 9 sec.
  • S5 E8: Wade Bowen on “Me and Paul”

    20 MAR 2024 · This week, one of the brightest stars of the Texas Country/Red Dirt scene, singer-songwriter Wade Bowen, examines “Me and Paul,” Willie’s 1971 chronicle of the road-warrior life he was sharing with his erstwhile partner in crime, drummer Paul English. It’s a perfect song for Wade to get into, partly because, as he rightly points out, Willie was a progenitor of the circuit where he makes his living now, but also because of the setting for our visit: Wade zoomed in from his tour bus, which was broken down somewhere in Iowa on his way to a gig.
    37 min. 27 sec.
  • S5 E7: John Leventhal on “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”

    13 MAR 2024 · This week, six-time Grammy-winning producer, songwriter, and virtuoso guitarist John Leventhal—see Shawn Colvin’s A Few Small Repairs; his wife, Rosanne Cash’s The River and the Thread—discusses the song that first hipped him to the genius of Willie, 1975’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” He describes it with a producer’s ultimate praise, calling it a record that seems to exist outside of any era, before getting into his session work with the Hall of Fame band that backed Willie on 1993’s Across the Borderline, plus the reasons he thinks of Willie as a cross between legendary Nashville guitarist Grady Martin and Pablo Picasso...and his late father-in-law, Johnny Cash, as a cross between Elvis and Abe Lincoln.
    40 min. 45 sec.
  • S5 E6: Susan Tedeschi on “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces”

    6 MAR 2024 · This week, one of Willie’s longtime tour mates, Grammy-winning blues singer and guitarist Susan Tedeschi, talks about a deep cut off his 1998 album with Daniel Lanois, Teatro, “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces.” It’s a song she and her husband, slide-guitar hero Derek Trucks, play almost nightly with their group, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and it gets her thinking aloud on a foundational principle of Willie World: The absolute importance of making music with people you love—with meaty cameo appearances by the Allman Brothers Band, Jessica Simpson, The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and Emmylou Harris...who Susan calls a “Jedi.”
    36 min. 24 sec.
  • S5 E5: Bruce Robison on “Walkin’”

    28 FEB 2024 · Singer-songwriter Bruce Robison is famous for writing highly intelligent, richly detailed country songs—that happen also to be incredibly sad. (See “Angry All the Time,” by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and “Travelin’ Soldier,” by the Chicks.) This week, he focuses on a track that first taught him how emotionally sophisticated country music can be, “Walkin,’” off Willie’s 1974 masterpiece, Phases and Stages...before describing his own Willie tribute song, “What Would Willie Do,” and the weird reception Willie got in Bruce’s hometown, rural Bandera, Texas, when he moved his band and family there after fleeing Nashville in 1971. (Hint: The hippies and rednecks didn’t start getting along until Willie got to Austin a year later.)
    39 min. 26 sec.
  • S5 E4: Lawrence Wright on “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die”

    21 FEB 2024 · This week, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright talks about a Willie hit of recent vintage, 2011’s “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.” That may seem an odd focus song for Larry, a New Yorker staff-writer known for tackling topics like Scientology and the rise of radical Islam, but he’s also a native Texan who’s written whole books on the Texas myth. In that vein, he’s got deep, personal thoughts on how Willie’s most truly subversive move was to wear his hair—in the 70s in Texas!—in long, braided pigtails; the existential quality of watching him and Trigger grow old together; and the weirdly difficult role Larry played in getting a Willie statue erected in downtown Austin.
    34 min. 23 sec.
  • S5 E3: Booker T Jones on "Georgia On My Mind"

    14 FEB 2024 · Booker T. Jones is one of the true geniuses of American music, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer as a keyboardist, composer, and bandleader (see “Green Onions,” “Soul Man,” “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” etc.), but also as a producer, which is the role he played in the creation of Willie’s 1978 masterpiece, Stardust. It was a highly improbable pairing and production, and on this OBW episode, Booker explains all of it—how he met Willie, how they picked the songs, how they ended up recording in Emmylou Harris’s living room—with a focus on the Hoagy Carmichael classic, “Georgia on My Mind.”
    36 min. 46 sec.
  • S5 E2: Whoopi Goldberg on "Stardust"

    7 FEB 2024 · In addition to being one the few artists to earn an EGOT—i.e. win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony—Whoopi Goldberg also happens to be a big-time music nerd and monster Willie fan. On this episode she talks about his 1978 recording of “Stardust,” calling it “a love song to a love song” that, when Willie sings it, makes her feel like she’s floating barefoot in the clouds with her late mom and brother. From there she’ll describe growing up a musical omnivore in NYC (see Waylon and Willie...but also Anthony Newley, Glen Campbell, and the Four Tops), the origins of country music, and the night she shared a stage with Willie, Leon Russell, and Ray Charles.
    36 min. 3 sec.
  • S5 E1: Nick Offerman on "Buddy"

    31 GEN 2024 · This week, Nick Offerman—noted actor, humorist, author, woodworker, canoe paddler, and agrarian philosopher—talks about Willie’s 1968 song, “Buddy.” It’s likely an obscure title even to real-deal Willie nerds, but not to devoted fans of Nick’s old show “Parks and Recreation,” who should recall it as Ron Swanson’s favorite song. Nick’s going to explain why “Buddy” was chosen for a key moment in what he calls the show’s most important episode, and then he’ll describe the magic of his first Willie concert, the vital work of Farm Aid, and why he considers Willie Nelson one of the greatest Americans who ever lived.
    40 min. 40 sec.

In “One by Willie,” Texas Monthly’s John Spong hosts intimate conversations with a range of prominent guests about the Willie Nelson songs that mean the most to them. But this...

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In “One by Willie,” Texas Monthly’s John Spong hosts intimate conversations with a range of prominent guests about the Willie Nelson songs that mean the most to them. But this series isn’t just about the songs. It’s about what music really means to us—the ways it can change us, take care of us, and connect us all. Songs featured in the episodes can be found on Apple Music. Listen here.
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