Willie Nelson, My Way

by Constance Tucker

For some it might be strange to see Willie Nelson, an artist and songwriter more closely linked to Country music putting out a standards album.  What many may not know is Nelson was a close personal friend of Frank Sinatra, and the tunes contained on My Way, his sixty-eighth studio album is a befitting tribute to his longtime friend and the songs closely associated to Sinatra.  In the 1980s, the pair performed on the same bill at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas and appeared together in a public service announcement for NASA’s Space Foundation, both were mutual admirers.

“Fly Me to the Moon,” written by Bart Howard has always been a tune that delights. Nelson has an honest and credible way of phrasing any tune he tackles.  His unadorned vocal quality gives the well-covered tune a signature sound. Nelson gets into the emotion of the lyric and certainly outpours that genuineness.

Nelson is joined on “What Is This Thing Called Love?” by Norah Jones in a duet performance.  Both have enjoyed appeal in genres outside their release labeling genre. Jones is a wonderful pairing, each have their own style, and both have that same appeal of organic honesty to their vocal delivery and on this tune, their rapport is evident.

The album ending is befittingly “My Way,” the apotheosis of Sinatra and a statement of Nelson, that though these tunes might be closely associated to Sinatra, don’t expect this to be a Sinatra tribute album in totality.  Meaning, not an album where the artist is trying to sound just like the artist in its encomium, but more so a deep friendship and the honoring of the spirit done Nelson’s way.

An enjoyable album from a beloved artist who is one of the most well-recorded writers, covered songwriters, and basically all-around undeniable icon.  Certainly, worth adding to any collection just for the sheer enjoyability of it.

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