Willie Nelson: Healing Hands of Time (1961)

 |   |  1 min read

Willie Nelson: Healing Hands of Time (1961)

By the time Willie Nelson laid down this demo of what is arguably one of the greatest songs of his pre-fame period, he had already written Family Bible (a top 10 country hit for Claude Gray although Nelson had sold the song outright so got no writing credit or cash) and Hello Walls (number one for nine weeks in '61 for Faron Young).

Crazy, which he had also written, would become a huge hit the following year for Patsy Cline.

But in '61 he was still a broke and jobbing songwriter for Pamper Music in Nashville. He would often sing his own songs in the studio with ring-in musicians who included pedal steel player Jimmy Day (of Ray Price's band), and guitarist Pete Wade.

Even at this early stage Nelson had a distinctive, Sinatra-like approach to phrasing and that lazy, behind the beat approach. Other country singers used it too (notably Lefty Frizzell) but Nelson's twang set him apart.

That did, and the fact he wrote memorable songs such as this slow, sad consideration of love lost but seen from differing perspectives.

By the following year Nelson was signed to Liberty as a recording artist, Crazy and Funny How Time Slips Away (recorded by Jimmy Elledge) had crossed over from the country to pop charts . . . and Willie Nelson was on his way to becoming the star we now know.

But there is something in his Pamper demos, and particularly this song, which is so understated and lacking in expectation that make them always worth revisiting. 

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Groucho Marx: Churchill, Chicago critics (1972)

Groucho Marx: Churchill, Chicago critics (1972)

The great Groucho has been so often copied (Alan Alda, Welcome Back Kotter etc) and parodied down the decades we forget how irreverent he was in his day. By the time of this recording however he... > Read more

Allen Ginsberg: Dope Fiend Blues (1974)

Allen Ginsberg: Dope Fiend Blues (1974)

Jimi Hendrix said he believed he couldn't sing, until he heard the young Bob Dylan and thought, "Well, if he can do that . . ." As a poet drawn to song, Leonard Cohen thought much the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Tagaq: Sinaa (Jericho Beach)

Tagaq: Sinaa (Jericho Beach)

This remarkable Inuit throat singer and avant-vocalist came to my attention in Vancouver when I was reading a lengthy article about John Coltrane in a newspaper (my kinda paper) and she was... > Read more

AUSTRALIAN AUTOMOBILE DESIGN EXHIBIT (2015): G'day Bruce, godda new mowda?

AUSTRALIAN AUTOMOBILE DESIGN EXHIBIT (2015): G'day Bruce, godda new mowda?

Amidst the highly polished and gleamingly seductive automobile flesh in Melbourne's National Gallery of Victoria right now is an oddity which draws a lot of attention. It is a battered,... > Read more