Willie Nelson, 89, Wins Grammy For Best Country Album

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Willie Nelson (Photo: James Minchin; used with permission)

Willie Nelson has won the Grammy Award for Best Country Album for  A Beautiful Time, his 2022 release for Legacy Recordings. (Nelson also earned the Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance for “Live Forever,” a track from 2022’s Live Forever: A Tribute to Billy Joe Shaver.) The legend did not attend the Feb. 5, 2023, awards ceremony, held at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. The album arrived on April 29, 2022, Nelson’s 89th birthday. Listen to many of the songs below.

Produced by Buddy Cannon, Nelson’s longtime musical collaborator, A Beautiful Time showcases Willie and Trigger (his signature guitar) playing with musicians including Jim ‘Moose’ Brown (B-3 organ, Wurlitzer), Fred Elringham (drums), Barry Bales (upright bass), Bob Terry (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, steel guitar), James Mitchell (electric guitar) and the patented harmonic stylings of Mickey Raphael. Melonie Cannon sings backup on five of the album’s tracks.

Listen to the title track from A Beautiful Time

From the original release about the album, “Among its many musical delights, A Beautiful Time introduces a variety of newly written future pop-country classics including five new Nelson/Cannon compositions and contributions from some of Nashville’s finest contemporary songwriters. The collection also premieres Willie’s heartfelt and insightful covers of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Tower of Song’ and the Beatles’ ‘With a Little Help from My Friends.’”

Listen to “Tower of Song”

At 89, Nelson preaches “Live Every Day” like it was your last one.

The album’s core musical ensemble drives eight of the tracks on the recording: “My Heart Was a Dancer,” “Energy Follows Thought,” “Dreamin’ Again,” “Dusty Bottles,” “Me and My Partner,” “Don’t Touch Me There,” “I’ll Love You Till the Day I Die” and “I Don’t Go to Funerals.”

Watch the lyric video for “Energy Follows Thought”

The album’s studio performances of two Shawn Camp songs—“A Beautiful Time” and “We’re Not Happy (Till You’re Not Happy)”—and Nelson’s interpretation of the Lennon-McCartney classic (“With a Little Help From My Friends”) feature Bobby Terry (acoustic guitar, electric guitar), Catherine Marx (Wurlitzer, piano, B-3 organ), Mike Johnson (steel guitar), Chad Cromwell (drums), Lonnie Wilson (drums, percussion) and Kevin “Swine” Grantt (upright bass).

Listen to “With a Little Help From My Friends”

Listen to “Dusty Bottles”

Related: Our Album Rewind of a classic Willie Nelson / Waylon Jennings collaboration

In 2021, Legacy Recordings released two new Willie Nelson albums–That’s Life and The Willie Nelson Family. He has a two-day festival scheduled this spring to celebrate his 90th birthday, with an all-star cast. In May, we’ll learn if Nelson is selected for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023.

Tickets to see Nelson perform in 2023 are available here.

“I’ll Love You Till The Day I Die” is a new Rodney Crowell/Chris Stapleton composition.

Nelson’s sister Bobbie died March 10, 2022, at age 91, “peacefully and surrounded by family.” Bobbie Nelson, a pianist and singer, was the first member of Willie’s band. The family released a statement noting, “Our hearts are broken and she will be deeply missed. But we are so lucky to have had her in our lives.” She was featured in the 2021 album The Willie Nelson Family.

“My grandfather had said to me when I was learning to play the piano: You know, if you really work at this, you could earn your living playing music one day.” Bobbie Nelson told a biographer. “And I never forgot that.”

By the time the siblings were in their teens, they were playing honky-tonks together in a band with Bobbie’s husband Bud Fletcher and their guitar-playing father Ira Nelson.

Willie posted this extended video in 2021 in honor of Bobbie’s 90th birthday.

Nelson is the recipient of numerous Grammy Awards. Though he had taken home trophies for individual songs before, he had never won the coveted Best Country Album award until his win in 2023. He received the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.

Listen to Nelson’s Grammy-winning “Live Forever”

Best Classic Bands Staff

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