Songbird (Willie Nelson album)

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Songbird
Studio album by Willie Nelson
Released October 31, 2006
Genre Alternative country
Length 44:39
Label Lost Highway Records
Producer Ryan Adams
Willie Nelson chronology
You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker
(2006)
Songbird
(2006)
Moment of Forever
(2008)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Live Daily (Favorable)[2]
Music Box 3.5/5 stars[3]
Pop Matters 7/10 stars[4]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[5]

Songbird is an album by Willie Nelson released by Lost Highway Records on October 31, 2006. It was produced by contemporary country rock musician Ryan Adams. Adams, along with his band The Cardinals, performed on the album’s eleven tracks. It peaked at #87 on the Billboard 200 on November 18, 2006[6]

Music[edit]

Only two brand new compositions, Nelson’s “Back to Earth” and Adams’ “Blue Hotel,” appear on Songbird. “Rainy Day Blues,” "We Don’t Run,” and "Sad Songs and Waltzes" are original Nelson tunes, but they were released on earlier records.

Most of the songs from the album are cover tunes with new interpretations. The credit for covering these songs goes to Adams, who "...felt confident with all the selections."[7] In the same interview, Nelson points out that he was tentative about recording songs that had already been recorded as good as these were. He summed up the album by stating, 'It'll always be the Ryan Adams project, as far as I'm concerned.'[8]

Ryan Adams' thoughts on the album[edit]

Regarding his role of producer for the album, Ryan Adams states that he:

learned a lot of life lessons mostly. I mean, [Willie Nelson] works very quickly and it was very spare. We didn’t see him a lot, because the sessions were over a couple of different months. And also when it came up that it was something we were going to do, I was adamant that if The Cardinals were going to back him up, I would have to produce so we wouldn’t have to worry about someone interfering with our sound. So they agreed to let it go down the way it went down in the studio, and I put some limits on what was going to happen in order to keep the integrity of the recording. It reminded me kind of how Jack and Meg White work, the way that their limits make them seem stronger and more able to be resourceful and economical. In thinking about that, I wanted everyone to set up in the room around Willie, with only [drummer] Brad [Pemberton] wearing headphones, and everyone using ratty old amps so that the main thing everyone heard was Willie’s voice and guitar. It was cool because it made everyone listen really hard, and I think it enabled Willie to throw the band a little more, and suck them in. It turned into a real healthy struggle. But other than that we didn’t see a lot of him because I think he was pressed for time, and maybe recording in New York was a little overwhelming for him. It was just a different process. I think he’s used to coming in with the track already done and just singing over it."[9]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Rainy Day Blues" (Willie Nelson) – 5:32
  2. "Songbird" (Christine McVie) – 2:40
  3. "Blue Hotel" (Ryan Adams) – 3:30
  4. "Back to Earth" (Willie Nelson) – 2:59
  5. "Stella Blue" (Robert Hunter, Jerry Garcia) – 6:23
  6. "Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen) – 4:53
  7. "$1000 Wedding" (Gram Parsons) – 3:05
  8. "We Don't Run" (Willie Nelson) – 4:19
  9. "Yours Love" (Harlan Howard) – 3:03
  10. "Sad Songs and Waltzes" (Willie Nelson) – 3:17
  11. "Amazing Grace" (Traditional Arr. by Ryan Adams) – 4:49

Personnel and credits[edit]

All information taken from the Songbird CD release:

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2006) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums 19
U.S. Billboard 200 87

Notes[edit]