Jerry Wexler's long-overdue concept album takes Willie Nelson back to his musical roots. Teamed up with Ray Benson and the master musicianship of Asleep at the Wheel, this instant classic celebrates the timeless appeal of a most unique and spirited American music genre. Fall in love with Western Swing... again.
Bismeaux Records is pleased to announce that Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel have teamed up for this album collaboration which was released in February 2009. A concept 30 years in the making, Willie and the Wheel is a collection of classic Western Swing songs hand-picked by the late Jerry Wexler.
"Jerry wanted us to do this album and I'm glad we got to do it for him," says Willie Nelson. "And that he heard it before he passed on."
"Willie and the Wheel is a CD whose time has come," says Ray Benson. "Jerry Wexler originally came up with this concept back when Willie was on the Atlantic label. But before the record could be made, Willie left Atlantic for CBS records and so the idea was shelved."
Better known as "Mr. R&B", Jerry Wexler was a great fan of the original Western Swing bands like Bob Wills, Milton Brown, and Cliff Bruner - all first introduced to him while he was studying journalism in Kansas City. Willie Nelson also had grown up on Western Swing and it has always figured heavily into his approach to music. Finally Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel (hailed as the modern kings of Western Swing) were added, resulting in a sublime album, surefooted in its mastery but still as playful and daring as the originals. Such a fitting collaboration certainly begs the question as to why this has not happened already.
In 2003 Jerry Wexler, who was retired and living in Florida, called his old friend Ray. "'Ray!'" Benson recalls, "'I'm getting rid of my LPs! They collect dust and it bothers me. I have recorded them all and I am sending you all my Western Swing albums!' I told Jerry thank you very much and how much I appreciated him thinking of me. Well, a few weeks later a box arrived with twenty or so LPs from Jerry. They were collections of the music originally on 78 rpm records reissued on 33 1/3 rpm LPs and although I had a few of them they were a welcome addition to my collection. I noticed that a number of the song titles had two initials next to them: 'WN.' I didn't think much about it but when I talked to Jerry to thank him I asked what they were. He explained that 'WN' stood for Willie Nelson."
In 2007, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, and Asleep at the Wheel set out on the wildly successful Last of the Breed tour and PBS television broadcast, showcasing classic Western Swing and Texas Country music. Not long after, Ray Benson got the call from Willie and his manager.
According to Ray, they asked, "'Jerry Wexler thinks now is the time to do the Western Swing CD. You've got the LPs, don't you?' It took me a second to realize what they were talking about and once I put two and two together I answered 'Yes of course!' I went to the shelf and pulled out the LPs. Sure enough there were the penned-in 'WNs' by certain songs and so I went to work."
From a catalogue of nearly 40 selections Jerry and Ray painstakingly narrowed the list down to 12. Always the producer with a vision, Jerry was involved in every way. He insisted that some of the tracks should include horns as well as a return to traditional fiddles and lap steel guitar associated with Western Swing.
As the sessions concluded and Willie finished his vocals the tracks were sent to Jerry.
"To my delight and relief," says Ray, "he loved them."
Not yet satisfied with the collection, Ray determined that an instrumental piece was instrumental. For Ray, one tune kept coming up: South, originally done by Bennie Moten, was also the song that Bob Wills opened his shows with for a number of years.
"I called Jerry up and he was in total agreement. He also informed me that South was a million seller when it came out in 1927. We recorded the song about the same time we were doing a benefit for Habitat for Humanity with David Letterman in Austin so it was natural for our good friend Paul Shaffer to join us for the session. We were also fortunate enough to have the talented Vince Gill lend his electric guitar licks on this track."
"It was a sad day indeed when the news came in that Jerry Wexler had passed away," says Ray. "We're so proud to have had this opportunity to make this record with him."
Lyrics:Bring it on down to my house honey There ain't nobody home but me Bring it on down to my house honey I need your company Tomcat sittin' on a railroad track Hollerin' at the momma and she answered him back Said bring it on down to my house honey There ain't nobody home but me Two old maids layin' in bed One turned over and the other one said Now, bring it on down to my house honey Ain't nobody home but me The old man said can you play a fiddle He said by now I can play a little Bring it on down to my house honey There ain't nobody home but me Tomcat sittin' on a railroad track Hollerin' at the momma cat, she answered back Said, bring it on down to my house honey Ain't nobody home but me Now my gal Sal makes a pretty good pie I ate so much that I thought Is gona die Well, bring it on down to my house honey Ain't nobody home but me
Lyrics:Corrine, Corrina, where you been so long Corrine, Corrina, where you been so long I ain't had no lovin' since you've been gone. Corrine, Corrina Corrine, Corrina Corrine, Corrina I love you so. I love Corrina, tell the world I do I love Corrina, tell the world I do I pray every night she learns to love me too. I left Corrina, way across the sea I left Corrina, way across the sea If you see my baby, send her home to me. Corrine, Corrina, why don't you come on home Corrine, Corrina, why don't you come on home I'm mighty tired, bein' all alone.
Lyrics:Woke up this morning lookin' for my shoes Looked behind the trunk, felt the hesitation blues Lordy, tell me how long will I have to wait? Can I get to you now? Must I hesitate Well, I'm goin' to the river take a rockin' chair If blues overtake me rock away from here Lordy, tell me how long will I have to wait? Can I get to you now? Must I hesitate Well, I'm goin' up the mountain, peep through a hole Saw your little monkey doin' the sweet jelly roll Lordy, tell me how long will I have to wait? Can I get to you now? Must I hesitate Well, I'm goin' to the river, gonna sit right down If the blues overtake me I'll jump in and drown Lordy, tell me how long will I have to wait? Can I get to you now? Must I hesitate
Lyrics:Was all the summer, and all the fall Just tryin' to find my, little Lenore But now she's gone, I don't worry 'Cause I'm sitting on top of the world Was in the spring, one summer day Just when she left me, she's gone to stay But now she's gone, I don't worry I'm sitting on top of the world Then you come here runnin' Holdin' up your hand Can get me a woman Quick as you can get a man But now she's gone, I don't worry I'm sitting on top of the world (Instrumental) It have been days I didn't know your name Why should I worry and prayer in vain? But now she's gone, I don't worry I'm sitting on top of the world Goin' to the station, down in the yard Gon' get me a freight train Worked some, got hard But now she's gone, I don't worry I'm sitting on top of the world The lonesome days, they have gone by Why should you beg me and say goodbye? But now she's gone, I don't worry I'm sitting on top of the world
Lyrics:I know a gal thats awful sweet Im tellin' you she can't be beat Oh you pretty woman With lots of this and plenty of that And a motorcar and a ten-room flat Oh you pretty woman Shes lookin' for a sweetie And I think she picked on me I tried my best to get away but she wouldn't let me be And this gal you must hear more about Im gonna stand right up and shout Oh you pretty woman I only held her hand but once And I was weak for months and months Oh you pretty woman One time she sat up on my lap And I just had to yell ker pow Oh you pretty woman She locked me in her boudoir And started straight for me But I just fought and kicked and screamed 'Til she let me be We won't be married 'til the spring But mother's told me everything Oh you pretty woman Now you should see just how she's built One look at her and boy you'll wilt Oh you pretty woman With lots of these and plenty of those And boy oh boy those sweaty clothes Oh you pretty woman I never kiss her more than once Unless she just demands it And when she holds me close so dear I like it but I can't stand it She took me ridin' in her coup She made my heart go boop boopy doop Oh you pretty woman
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