Album #422 – Stardust
Like all good things. Willie Nelson’s album Stardust happened by accident. Nelson was riding high from the success of Red Headed Stranger and his position in the outlaw country movement. But, Nelson decided to do a version of the standard Moonlight Over Vermont and asked Booker T. Jones, famed organist of Booker T. & The MGs, to arrange it. Jones was Willie’s neighbor at the time and he was impressed with Jones’ arrangement. It was from there that Jones ended up producing the entire album. This album was controversial with the record company because they saw Stardust as a huge risk. Nelson did not write any of the songs on this album. They are all standards and Tin Pan Alley tunes. Stardust ended up becoming the biggest album of his career. The tracks contain lush string arrangements combined with the sound of Willie’s backing band including harmonica. Like most of his albums, Willie’s sister Bobbie plays piano. Jones plays organ and piano while former Byrd and Flying Burrito Brother Chris Hillman plays bass on a few of the tracks. Willie Nelson is doing the same thing Ray Charles did when he released Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. Taking songs from a different genre and making them his own. It’s no wonder why Charles and Nelson ended up becoming close friends. I did enjoy this album and Willie’s unique voice makes these songs his own. Stardust would be the first of many musical experiments Nelson would do over his career. What other country artist could say they played jazz, reggae, blues, and folk mixing them in with their signature sound? Only Willie can. This is something to admire about the man. He is an artist that sticks to his guns and is not controlled by record companies. Maybe that is why he has been on so many record labels over the years? Many country artists today can learn a thing or two from Ol’ Willie and see how he embodies the qualities of a true artist. Highlights include: Georgia On My Mind, Unchained Melody, September Song, On The Sunny Side of the Street, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore and Someone to Watch Over Me. Overall, I give Stardust, 4.5 out of 5.
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