WILLIE NELSON Willie Nelson & Family (1971)

Willie Nelson & Family (1971)
The Country Gentleman Evolves

Something happened to Willie at the dawn of the 70s. The established country writer and performer was his usual dapper self on the cover of 1970’s Both Sides Now (click HERE for a pop-up look). But, by 1971’s Willie Nelson & Family, he was hanging, commune-style, in the woods, seemingly just waiting for a time when he could both be himself and be a part of the oft-conservative country music establishment… at the same time. It would take a few more years before the “outlaw movement” would induct Willie, but until then, there was this tentative baby step outside the restrictive confines of C&W convention. And it starts with the material. Willie singing Kris Kristofferson’s “wishin’ lord that I was stoned” in “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” sets the tone, while James Taylor’s “Fire And Rain” was part of a relatively new practice of covering modern pop songwriters. Willie still clearly had a foot in old tradition on this LP (country weepers, gospel sources, over-production), but you can see the cracks in the country facade starting to show. Willie Nelson & Family isn’t what you’d call “essential” Nelson, as it’s more of a missing link than anything else. But, it’s Willie, nonetheless. After this baby step, it was just a matter of time. It’s missing at Amazon, too, as hard disc copies are not to be found.

What Can You Do To Me Now (3:26)
Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down (5:46)
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (2:22)
Fire And Rain( 2:56)
Kneel At The Feet Of Jesus (2:44)
I’m A Memory (2:22)
Yours Love (2:59)
I Can Cry Again (2:56)
That’s Why I Love Her So (2:29)
Today I Started Loving You Again (4:00)


  • Willard
    December 20, 2011 - 10:08 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • dandor
    December 20, 2011 - 16:45 | Permalink

    “Something happened to Willie at the dawn of the 70s.”

    Sure did! He started smoking copious amounts of cannabis!!!!! ;)

  • JM
    December 20, 2011 - 20:58 | Permalink

    I think Willie’s RCA work is a bit underrated. A lot of it is rather tasteful and understated, though there are certainly some bad productions. That “Naked Willie” CD that came out a few years ago was pretty cool; it stripped away the strings, etc., from some egregiously overproduced RCA tracks.

  • Art Ducko
    December 21, 2011 - 01:43 | Permalink

    Thanks to Willard for a little lost chapter in Willie’s timeline, but a major turning point in his musical output. A better grade of weed? Could Shakespeare say as much? Still fascinating.

  • Willard
    December 21, 2011 - 07:14 | Permalink

    Hey Ducky.

    JM… Naked Willie sounded like a good idea (the album, that is), and I thought I had it on the shelf, but didn’t. I did have, however, Me And The Drummer, which is a laid back self-released collection from 1998/2000. I’m popping that up today. Thanks.

  • December 25, 2011 - 14:25 | Permalink

    Thanx for the XMAS gift, today, Willy and, Willie….

  • courtney
    December 28, 2011 - 15:15 | Permalink

    That ethos— Willie Nelson and Family—has characterized his work, for better or worse, since this very LP. While some have wished that Willie would submit more often to the strictures of a doctrinaire producer, ya gotta give the old man props for following his muse…

    • Willard
      December 28, 2011 - 16:03 | Permalink

      Especially in the old guard conservative country field. Too many others ended up like Bad Blake.

  • HarryorHal
    April 23, 2013 - 22:22 | Permalink

    I came to Austin in 1974, went to school and lived in the area until 1994 (north Williamson Co.)

    My first Willie memories go deep. there was an LP, long gone, that he did re-makes of his classic, gut bucket Nashville recordings that had a tune called “Dont wake me till it’s over”, I found it on a re-issue of 60’s stuff, way overdone RCA sessions, BUT , not the one i remember from that LP i wore out.
    Any help out there?

    • Willard
      April 23, 2013 - 22:42 | Permalink

      According to the All Music Guide, the song appears on many Willie LPs. Some just may be greatest hits, but since I haven’t heard (or don’t remember) either version, I’m clueless.

      1962 And Then I Wrote
      1972 The Willie Way
      1975 What Can You Do to Me Now
      1979 Sweet Memories
      1987 Island in the Sea
      1992 The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?
      1994 The Early Years
      1994 The Early Years: The Complete Liberty Recordings Plus More
      1998 Nashville Was the Roughest

  • Leave a Reply