Willie Nelson Crazy: The Demo Sessions

Willie Nelson Crazy: The Demo Sessions
Growing up in the late '70s and early '80s, whenever I'd see Willie Nelson on TV, my young mind couldn't help asking, how did this guy get so famous? The question arose mostly because he looked like the kind of character I was warned to stay away from, yet there he was, crooning "Always On My Mind" as women everywhere threw themselves at him. It wasn't until much later that I learned that success was the culmination of two decades of obscurity, punctuated by the occasional hit at the hands of other artists. It was, in fact, these songs - "Crazy," "Hello Walls," and "Undo The Right" - that made him famous, and deservedly so. This hauntingly sparse collection of demos from that early period (1960-66) shows precisely why it took country music 20 years to come around to Nelson's own performing style. In most of these brief rough sketches, he pours more raw emotion into his delivery than few artists of the time could hope to match. It's actually hard to think of anyone else (outside of Roy Orbison perhaps) doing a song as bleak as "Darkness On The Face Of The Earth," or "I've Just Destroyed The World." Of course, nearly all of these songs wound up in new guises on Nelson's subsequent albums, but here we get the equivalent of the "lo-fi" Nelson. The results are consistently startling, if not revelatory, both in how fully-formed his style already was at that point, and the sheer timelessness of the songs themselves. A must-have for any fan of pure country. (Sugar Hill)