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August 2004

H.E.A.R. Honors Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson's career spans more than thirty-five years, over a hundred albums, plus gigs, concerts, and benefit performances all over the globe.

His 2002 album, The Great Divide, has him teamed up with stars such as Kid Rock, Lee Ann Womack, Sheryl Crow, Brian McKnight and Bonnie Raitt. The album is amove on Willie's part to try sounds he's not often associated with, and has earned him both praise and rebuke. It is, overall, a positive album with a positive message.

Willie Nelson and Don Cherry recorded a 2002 CD, The Eyes of Texas. It has 12 classic country-western songs and is available only through the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and benefits its cause. Check it out at wildflower.org.

In 2000, he teamed up with old pals Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristoferson and Billy Joe Shaver to release Honky Tonk Heroes. This album was created over a period of several years as the group worked up the Billy Joe Shaver classic tunes used in the CD.

Also released in 2000, Willie Nelson entered the internet era by releasing an interactive album available exclusively on the internet from Broadcast.com and Yahoo (Luck Records). Willie Nelson and the Offenders released Me and The Drummer. He is backed up by such Austin luminaries as Johnny Gimble on the album. Tales Out of Luck was release as a CD at the same time.

Me and the Drummer includes an interactive extra that, "allows explorers the opportunity to see excerpts of a video about Willie's early life to discovering why his grandmother was upset about his first road gig . . . almost 8 miles from his hometown. An interactive collage interface lets explorers rummage through Willie's stuff while learning about different facets of his life. Just about every item yields a WAV or AVI when clicked. Explorers can listen to Willie talk about Farm-Aid, the July 4th Picnics, his star-studded 60th Birthday party, his personal life, why Willie wanted his car driven INTO a burning house, and why it is sometimes more important to be last than first.

" Teatro, the cover of which is pictured at left, is proof positive that Willie Nelson is as creative and dynamic as he was back in the early 1950s when he got his start.

Even so, he's come a country mile from 1954, when Willie opened his radio show on KCNC in Fort Worth with, "This is your ol' cotton pickin', snuff dippin', tobacco chewin', coffee pot dodgin', dumplin' eatin', frog giggin' hillbilly from Hill Country!"

Willie Nelson's music is clean, uncluttered, deceptively simple and basic. But less is more in Willie's case. He can transform a lyric, backed up by nothing more than a guitar and a little percussion, into a novel of detailed depth.

Every career has its highs and lows, and Willie went through some lows. In search of a new beginning, Willie moved back to Texas in 1972. He found his way to the Austin's old Armadillo World Headquarters and created a bond with long-haired rock'n rollers. In 1978, he released Stardust, a collection of pop standards that spent more than a decade on the country charts.

These days, Willie is regarded as one of country music's biggest stars. And then there are the films like Thief, The Electric Horseman, Red Headed Stranger, Honeysuckle Rose, Barbarosa, Songwriter, Wag the Dog and others.

His fourth of July picnics, which began in 1973, have become the stuff of legend, while his annual Farm Aid shows have helped call attention to the plight of the American farmer since 1985. Willie has written several autobiographical books, not all of them in print, which you can find at Amazon.com. check out CD baby for Willie Nelson songs.

H.E.A.R. is proud to honor Willie Nelson and his great band for their outstanding support of the family farm, the environment and hearing education.

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