Willie Nelson - Stardust
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Stardust (Columbia/Legacy, 1999)

Willie Nelson

Reviewed by Dan Williams

It's rare these days for any artist's odd commercial smash to remain among the most charming releases in their catalogue. Willie's "Stardust" is just that - a huge record in its time that still sounds as fresh and vital as it did upon its 1978 release.

The concept was simple: a collection of standards and personal favorites delivered in his spare, intimate style. It was perhaps the success of 1975's "Red Headed Stranger" that allowed such a radical move, and these are songs commonly associated with Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, The Righteous Brothers, Lottye Lenya and George Gershwin, among others. Just doesn't matter. Willie makes them his own. From Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies" to Hoagy Carmichael's "Stardust," Nelson inhabits these songs as he would a pair of old jeans. It's a soulful and very elegant recording that will stand up to any number of repeated listenings. Back-to-roots cover albums seem de regiuer these days, but few have given it up with so much heart.

"A great song is a great song," Nelson says in the liner notes. He was right then, and he's right now.

CDs by Willie Nelson

That's Life, 2021 First Rose of Spring, 2020 Ride Me Back Home, 2019 My Way, 2018 Last Man Standing, 2018 Willie's Stash Volume 2, 2017 God's Problem Child, 2017 Summertime Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin, 2016 Band of Brothers, 2014 To All the Girls..., 2013 Let's Face the Music and Dance, 2013 Freedom, 2012 Remember Me Vol. 1, 2011 Country Music, 2010 American Classic, 2009 Lost Highway, 2009 Naked Willie, 2009 One Hell of a Ride, 2008 Moment of Forever, 2008 Songbird, 2006 Live From Austin, TX, 2006 Songs of Cindy Walker, 2006 You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker, 2006

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