CD Review of Moment of Forever by Willie Nelson
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Willie frigging Nelson!
Lost Highway
Willie Nelson:
Moment of Forever

Reviewed by Red Rocker


illie Hugh Nelson will turn 75 years old this spring. Seventy-five. You can say what you want about the great marijuana debate, but it is one man’s contention that whether it has a medicinal value or not, it definitely has a way of preserving the human body. How else can you explain the phenomenon that is Willie Nelson? The guy is not just singing karaoke anymore, folks. He’s not even resigned to just covering other people’s songs, like the great Johnny Cash did in his final years on this earth. No, Willie is still writing, producing, creating, collaborating, and touring his tired old ass off. And if you’ve had the pleasure of seeing him play live the past couple years, you’d know he hasn’t given into the aging process.

Moment of Forever is the most recent in a line of really relevant new recordings that Willie has churned out since joining Lost Highway Records in 2002. This new endeavor hearkens back to the same formula that made 2004’s It Always Will Be so special. By sharing vocals, some of the songwriting duties, and sprinkling in a few well-chosen covers, Willie delivers something that’s fresh and appealing to more than just the classic country mob. Kenny Chesney and his longtime creative partner Buddy Cannon jump in to produce Moment, as well as help write a couple songs. “Over You Again” opens, a poignant tale of heartbreak that Willie wrote with his youngest sons Micah and Lukas. (Trivia break: Who knew Willie had been married five times and fathered ten children?)

Politics have always been a weapon in his artistic holster, and “Louisiana,” an old Randy Newman track from the ‘70s, comes out firing here. “President came down in his big airplane with his little fat man with a note pad in his hand,” Willie protests, “President say, ‘little fat man, oh, isn’t it a shame what the river has done to this poor farmer’s land.’” The song that’s drawing the most attention, with its dark and cinematic video, is Willie’s version of Dave Matthews’ “Gravedigger” from 2003’s Some Devil. It’s a great song, and when Willie pleads, “Could you make it shallow, so that I can feel the rain,” he makes it candidly his own. One of three Willie originals here is the decidedly Spanish flavored “Always Now,” a breezy and brief ode to love, whether wife #5 or “Trigger,” his prized nylon-stringed Martin acoustic guitar.

Moment of Forever isn’t pound for pound a landmark Willie Nelson album, though it has a couple of near-perfect moments. It is, however, a pretty admirable mission for a guy who was almost 30 when the Beatles first came to America. Make no mistake: Willie’s still vital, he’s still energized, and by God, he’s still got the best of what made him a pot-smoking, tax-evading, long-haired American hippie-cowboy icon.

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