Heroes (Willie Nelson album)

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Heroes
Studio album by Willie Nelson
Released May 15, 2012 (2012-05-15)
Recorded 2011-12
Genre Country
Length 58:31
Label Legacy
Producer Buddy Cannon
Willie Nelson chronology
  • Heroes
  • (2012)
Singles from Heroes
  1. "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die"
    Released: April 20, 2012
  2. "Just Breathe"
    Released: April 21, 2012
  3. "Come On Back Jesus"
    Released: April 21, 2012

Heroes is a studio album by American country music singer Willie Nelson, released by Legacy Recordings on May 15, 2012. Produced by Buddy Cannon, the album contains classic country songs, new songs written by Nelson and his son Lukas, and the classic song from Nelson's repertoire, "A Horse Called Music". Guest appearances include Lukas Nelson, Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Billy Joe Shaver and Sheryl Crow.

A cover version of Coldplay's song "The Scientist", which was originally released as a single in 2011, was included in the album release after a major reception for a Chipotle Mexican Grill advertising aired during Super Bowl XLVI. The single "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" was released on 420 day, and the tracks "Just Breathe" and "Come On Back Jesus" were released as singles during Record Store Day 2012.

Upon its release, it received favorable reviews. Heroes peaked at number four on Billboard's Top Country Albums and reached number 18 on the Billboard 200.

Background and recording[edit]

The working title-track of the album features Nelson, as well as Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Heroes was produced by Buddy Cannon. It was the first to be recorded and released by Nelson under his new contract with Sony Music. The album includes country music classics "My Window Faces the South", "Home In San Antone" and "Cold War With You", which Nelson sang with Ray Price. The album also includes original classics by Nelson and new songs by him and his son Lukas. Special guest appearances include Merle Haggard on "A Horse Called Music"; Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson on the track "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die", Billy Joe Shaver on "Come On Back Jesus" and Sheryl Crow on "Come On Up To The House". Nelson recorded three covers for the album; Pearl Jam's "Just Breathe", Coldplay's "The Scientist", and Tom Waits' "Come On Up To The House".[1]

Originally, the album was named after the track "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die", but was then changed to Heroes after Nelson and his production team decided that the original name could deter conservative sale outlets.[2] Lukas Nelson suggested recording Pearl Jam's "Just Breathe", while his brother Micah suggested "Come On Up To The House".[3]

Most of the tracks on the album were recorded by engineer Steve Chadie at Nelson's Pedernales studio in Austin, Texas. "Hero", "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" and "Come On Back Jesus" were recorded by Butch Carr at Cannon Productions and Sound Emporium Recording Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.[1]

Release and reception[edit]

The cover of Coldplay's song "The Scientist", was originally released as a single in 2011. The song was included on Heroes after it gained public recognition for its use on a Chipotle restaurant television advertisement that was aired during Super Bowl XLVI.[4] "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" was released on April 20, 2012, to celebrate 420 day. The same day, Nelson performed the song live during the unveiling of his statue in Austin, Texas.[5][6] The tracks "Just Breathe" and "Come On Back Jesus", were released as singles along with the non-album cut "Can I Sleep In Your Arms" during Record Store Day on April 21, 2012.[7]

On May 12, 2012, the entire album was premiered on Nelson's channel Willie's Roadhouse on Sirius XM Radio.[8] It was released on May 15.[1] According to the aggregate score website Metacritic, it received "Generally favorable reviews" based on nineteen reviews, with a final score of 70/100.[9]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (70/100)[9]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[10]
Consequence of Sound 3/5 stars[11]
The Daily Telegraph 4/5 stars[12]
Entertainment Weekly B[13]
The Independent 3/5 stars[14]
MSN Music B+[15]
musicOMH 4/5 stars[16]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[17]
Slant Magazine 3.5/5 stars[18]
Toronto Sun 3.5/5 stars[19]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic rated the album with three stars out of five. He called the release "an appealingly misshapen collection of classics, contemporaries, and originals". Erlewine said that the contributions of Lukas Nelson were "a wee bit too much", but that the son of Nelson "contributes [to] a couple of the record's best songs". Erlewine mentioned Nelson's dispersity through the tracks, sating that he "has no innate editor ... but when he does connect, it's a wonder to behold".[10] In a review for Consequence of Sound, Matthew Kauffman Smith criticized Nelson's decision to include many collaborations on the album, saying it was "Willie Nelson himself" that made his previous albums so enjoyable.[11] Chet Flippo writing for Country Music Television said that Nelson "never fails to amaze", citing his capability of succeeding with more material. Flippo closed by writing that Nelson's "ear for a good song is as acute as it has ever been".[4] The Chicago Reader favored the album, saying, "it's a mixed bag that aims for pop crossover, with high-profile cameos ... It sounds like a recipe for a terrible album, but the results are actually pretty good."[20]

Rolling Stone rated the album with three stars out of five. Jody Rosen gave a positive review of the covers and the original songs, and said the track, "That’s All There Is to This Song", " ... makes you long for more Willie, less Willie and Friends".[17] The Daily Telegraph praised the album, rating it with four stars out of five. The review was centered around Nelson's musical legacy and the collaboration of Lukas Nelson. The Telegraph's reviewer Neil McCormic wrote, "(Heores) has the kind of last-will-and-testament quality".[12] Damon Albarn, writing in the Star Tribune, said that the participation of Lukas Nelson "lends the album an element of torch-passing, except Willie doesn't sound ready to fade away".[21] Dave DiMartino of Yahoo! Music wrote a favorable review of the album, and said, "[Heroes is] one further indication that [Nelson] has an extraordinary talent that appeals to generations and people more diverse than any other artist out there".[22]

Darry Sterdan of the Toronto Sun wrote a favorable review, and said about the selection of artists who collaborated on the album, "It sounds like a bummer, but thanks to Willie’s gentle charm and downhome wit, it’s mostly a hoot".[19] Michael McCall of the Associated Press gave a negative review, saying that, "other than a remarkable take on Coldplay's "The Scientist," there's little that separates this album from Nelson's avalanche of releases". McCall said the cover songs were "all-over-the-map", that Snoop Dogg "croons tunelessly on 'Roll Me Up'", and that "[Lukas Nelson's] voice has Willie's reedy tone, but little of its musicality or range, making this collection less heroic than it could have been".[23]

The New York Post praised the album and Nelson's inclusion of steel guitars in a context of classic country.[24] Entertainment Weekly rated the release with a B, saying, "the music on Heroes is less diverse than Nelson's tastes suggest — it's all country lite — but there's a real warmth in his work with his kids".[13] The Independent praised the inclusion of guests. The reviewer wrote, "the best thing here is opener 'A Horse Called Music', where wistful accordion and lachrymose pedal steel accompany Willie's duet with Merle Haggard, another Mount Rushmore voice". The reviewer also wrote, "Less welcome, though, is the way that vast tranches of the album serve as a showcase for Willie's son Lukas".[14] Jeff Terich of American Songwriter said that the album "follows a similar pattern to most of his recent releases, offering up a populist mix of original compositions, covers of cowboy classics and contemporary songs in equal measure". Terich disdained the cover versions but praised Lukas Nelson's songwriting, stating that the songs "Every Time He Drinks He Thinks of Her" and "No Place to Fly" "[showcase] a winning earnestness, and an affecting second voice whose gentle warble could only come from the same bloodline".[25]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "A Horse Called Music" (featuring Merle Haggard and Lukas Nelson) Wayne Carson 4:37
2. "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" (featuring Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson) Willie Nelson, Buddy Cannon, Rich Alves, John Colgin and Mike McQuerry 3:25
3. "That's All There Is to This Song"   Buddy Cannon 3:01
4. "No Place to Fly" (featuring Lukas Nelson) Lukas Nelson 5:06
5. "Every Time He Drinks He Thinks of Her" (featuring Lukas Nelson) Lukas Nelson 2:48
6. "Come on Up to the House" (featuring Lukas Nelson and Sheryl Crow) Tom Waits 5:16
7. "Hero" (featuring Billy Joe Shaver and Jamey Johnson) Willie Nelson 4:38
8. "My Window Faces the South" (featuring Lukas Nelson) Bob Wills 2:32
9. "The Sound of Your Memory" (featuring Lukas Nelson) Lukas Nelson, Elizabeth Rainey 6:10
10. "Cold War with You" (featuring Lukas Nelson and Ray Price) Floyd Tillman 4:04
11. "Just Breathe" (featuring Lukas Nelson) Eddie Vedder 4:02
12. "Home in San Antone" (featuring Lukas Nelson) Fred Rose 4:09
13. "Come on Back Jesus" (featuring Billy Joe Shaver, Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson) Willie Nelson, Buddy Cannon and Micah Nelson 3:24
14. "The Scientist"   Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, Chris Martin 5:05
Total length:
58:37

Credits[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

The album debuted at number four on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart, and number 18 on the Billboard 200.[26] It sold 17,000 copies in the US in its debut week.[27] In the UK, it debuted at No. 73 with 1,669 sold for the week.[28]

Chart (2012) Peak
position
UK Albums (OCC)[29] 73
US Top Country Albums (Billboard)[30] 4
US Billboard 200[31] 18

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Heroes, The New Willie Nelson Album, Coming Tuesday, May 15". Quincy Herald-Whig. PR Newswire. March 15, 2012. Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ Ball, James (March 15, 2012). "Willie Nelson talks Patsy Cline, Snoop Dogg ahead of Reno shows". Reno Gazette-Journal (Ganette Company). Retrieved March 18, 2012. 
  3. ^ Morris, Edward (June 6, 2012). "Willie Nelson Discusses New Album, Old Friends and Thoughts on a Long Career". Country Music Television (Viacom). Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Flippo, Chet (April 12, 2012). "Nashville Skyline: Willie Nelson: Older Than Time, Younger Than Yesterday". Country Music Television, Inc. (Viacom Inc). Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ Bell, Crystal (April 20, 2012). "420 Music: Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg Release 'Roll Me Up' And More Songs To Get High To". The Huffington Post (AOL, Inc.). Retrieved April 23, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Willie Nelson unveils statue of himself on 4/20". Detroit Free Press. Associated Press. April 21, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2012.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  7. ^ "Legacy Recordings Rolls Out All-star Line-up of Historic Collectibles for Record Store Day 2012". marketwatch.com. PR Newswire. April 2, 2012. Retrieved April 2, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Willie's Roadhouse channel to broadcast live in-studio performance by Willie Nelson and his son Lukas Nelson". UBM plc. PR Newswire. May 8, 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Heroes". MetaCritic. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Heroes - Willie Nelson". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Smith, Matthew Kauffman (May 18, 2012). "Album Review: Willie Nelson – Heroes". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved December 24, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b McCormic, Neil (May 11, 2012). "Willie Nelson, Heroes, review". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b Maerz, Melissa (May 9, 2012). "Heroes (2012)". Entertainment Weekly (1207 (May 18, 2012) [printed version]) (Entertainment Weekly Inc.). Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Gill, Andy (May 12, 2012). "Album: Willie Nelson, Heroes (Sony Legacy)". The Independent (London: Independent Print Limited). Retrieved December 17, 2013. 
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 1, 2013). "Carl Perkins/Willie Nelson". MSN Music. Retrieved December 25, 2013. 
  16. ^ Middlemass, Lily (May 14, 2012). "Willie Nelson - Heroes". musicOMH. Retrieved December 25, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Rosen, Jody (May 15, 2012). "Heroes - Album Review". Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  18. ^ Keefe, Jonathan (May 20, 2012). "Willie Nelson: Heroes". Slant Magazine. Retrieved December 25, 2013. 
  19. ^ a b Sterdan, Darryl (May 14, 2012). "Mayer, Nelson top CD reviews". Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  20. ^ Margasak, Peter (April 11, 2012). "The Unstoppable Willie Nelson". The Chicago Reader (CL Chicago, Inc.). Retrieved April 16, 2012. 
  21. ^ Albarn, Damon (May 12, 2012). "CD reviews 5/13: Damon Albarn and Willie Nelson". Star Tribune. Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  22. ^ DiMartino, Dave (May 15, 2012). "Adam Lambert Actually Quite Good Shock!". Yahoo! Music. Yahoo! Canada Co. Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  23. ^ McCall, Michael (May 22, 2012). "Music reviews: Adam Lambert, Willie Nelson, Rita Wilson". North Jersey Media Group. Associated Press. Retrieved December 17, 2013. 
  24. ^ Huhn, Mary; Guzman, Isaac (May 15, 2012). "Smokin’ Willie on a Country Roll". New York Post. Retrieved May 15, 2012. 
  25. ^ Terich, Jeff (May 11, 2012). "Willie Nelson: Heroes". American Songwriter (American Songwriter, LLC). Retrieved December 17, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Heroes, The New Willie Nelson Album, Spends Five Weeks At #1 On Americana Radio Chart". PR Newswire. Retrieved August 6, 2012. 
  27. ^ Matt Bjorke (May 23, 2012). "Chart News for May 23, 2012: Willie Nelson Returns". Roughstock. 
  28. ^ "Country Bites News snippets June 16 - June 22, 2014". Country Routes News Blog. July 1, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Willie Nelson | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. The Official Charts Company.
  30. ^ "Willie Nelson Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Top Country Albums for Willie Nelson. Prometheus Global Media.
  31. ^ "Willie Nelson Album & Song Chart History" Billboard 200 for Willie Nelson. Prometheus Global Media.