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 use the RSS feed for daily updates, and 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

Ian Dury: Razzle in My Pocket (1977)

Ian Dury: Razzle in My Pocket (1977)

With Will Birch's biography and the film of his life Sex and Drugs and Rock'n'Roll (Andy Serkis as Ian), there was something of a revival and re-appreciation of Ian Dury recently, a bit more than a... > Read more

Caveman: I'm Ready (1991)

Caveman: I'm Ready (1991)

Just as Run DMC found when they hooked themselves up with a metal guitar part from Aerosmith for Walk This Way (here) -- and King Kurlee confirmed when he got Blackmore Jnr in to play the classic... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

DEREK TRUCKS INTERVIEWED (2009): Allman and Clapton, but his own man

DEREK TRUCKS INTERVIEWED (2009): Allman and Clapton, but his own man

For someone yet to hit 30, the Jacksonville, Florida-based singer-guitarist Derek Trucks has achieved a lot. But then, he was almost born to it. His uncle is drummer Butch Trucks of the Allman... > Read more

Oasis: Dig Out Your Soul (Sony BMG)

Oasis: Dig Out Your Soul (Sony BMG)

Well, no one - least of all the man himself - ever said Noel Gallagher was a wizz with a lyric, but this rowdy and sometimes thrillingly psychedelic album hits some new lows when it comes to... > Read more