Sunday, August 4, 2013

UNUSUAL COLLABORATIONS: Willie Nelson and Sinead O'Connor

Don't Give Up
Purchase! Now!!

Well, it had to be Willie, didn't it? I'm uncertain whether it is his  work ethic or his tax-bill that keeps him going, seemingly effortlessly pumping out album after album after album, whether in his comfort zone of country, or all over the shop, with Toots Hibbert, Wynton Marsalis and Snoop Dogg all coming into his radar of potential partners. I was struggling to wonder what the grizzled old crooner might have in common with, allegedly, many of these collaborators from genres afar from his own. Then I remembered.
This is perhaps slightly more orthodox, yet still an inspired duet, not least as the song's author adds to a trirumvirate you would somehow feel surprised to see shooting the breeze together, in your local Starbucks or similar.

I don't know the story of how this came about, but I like to think good old avuncular Willie took to the beleaguered and distressed Sinead at the Dylan tribute concert. Yeah, yeah, I know Kris Kristofferson has taken most of the acclaim for the public consoling of her, on the "unexpected" reaction she received to her papal dissing, but I can imagine all the older guys feeling a little for her gamine weepiness. (Was Willie even there? I forget.) Anyhow, this, the standout track from the standout Peter Gabriel LP, So,  takes on the same mantle for his LP of, largely, covers, 1993's Across the Borderline. This was my first exposure to Willie Nelson, since when I have been avid in my admiration for his ability to transcend any concept of ageing, and to keep on delivering, by and large, competent goods.The fact I am a huge acolyte of Sinead helps here, another individual unafraid to explore similar dalliances into reggae, folk and "standards", undaunted of the response. (And, BTW, her folk and reggae albums are the best of her work, in my humble.)

An interesting interview with Peter Gabriel in Mojo this month told me something I didn't know,that being that PGs original choice for the Kate Bush part in his version was Dolly Parton. Somehow making Willie Nelson's choice of it as a song worthy of covering somehow all the more appropriate.

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