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Willie Nelson Goes Back in Time With T-Bone Burnett

Willie Nelson, T-Bone BurnettWillie Nelson has been called a lot of things, but “holy” isn’t one that immediately comes to mind. Unless you’re T-Bone Burnett, who produced Willie’s forthcoming collection of vintage country songs.

“Willie Nelson is a holy man,” T-Bone says of the 76-year-old country icon. “It’s a strange thing to say, but the best part about him is everything is the best part about him. He’s a beautiful man, incredible singer, beautiful guitar player.”

The most recent tune on the album is the first song Willie ever wrote in the ’50s, ‘Man With the Blues.’ The rest of the selections predate ‘Man,’ stretching back to at least the ’20s. “He and I both chose them,” T-Bone says. “I sent him probably 20 or 30 songs and then we started narrowing it down.”

The CD’s tracks were all recorded live with the musicians sitting in a circle. Willie told The Boot back in September that it will be a bluegrass album, but T-Bone prefers to just call it “country” since the term “bluegrass” wasn’t used yet when these songs were written.

Willie is certainly on a roll, releasing four albums in the past year … and this next year will be just as fruitful. In addition to his work with T-Bone, he’s completed an album with famed producer James Stroud, one with Leon Russell and another with Wynton Marsalis that is a tribute to Ray Charles.

T-Bone is celebrating a recent Golden Globe nomination for his song with Ryan Bingham on the ‘Crazy Heart’ movie soundtrack. The multiple GRAMMY winner’s credits also include producing the ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’ soundtrack and ‘Raising Sand,’ the duets album by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

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