Willie Nelson: Nite Life (1962)

 |   |  1 min read

Willie Nelson: Nite Life (1962)

For many folks, Willie Nelson's wonderful album of standards Stardust, in the late Seventies, was a revelation . . . and unexpected.

By then he had been so long associatied with the Outlaw movement in modern country -- and been adopted as the dope-smoking Red Headed Stranger by post-hippie adults -- that him singing standards like the title track, Blue Skies and Moonlight in Vermont (usually associated with guys like Sinatra, Torme et al) seemed a weirdly retro, but enjoyable, step.

However longtime Willie fans knew his heart had always been in such material (gee, he wrote the classic Crazy which is now part of the Great American Songbook) and the evidence was available to anyone who trawled his back catalogue . . . which of course went way back to the early Sixties on songs like this. Which sounds like yet another contender for inclusion in the Songbook.

Listen to the way he swings behind the beat, leaves those delicious pauses and also inhabits the character.

In the four years prior to this gem he wrote over 100 songs (among them this exceptional song), and that catalogue awaits discovery.

Nite Life is just one step removed from Blues in the Night (Johnny Mercer/Harold Arlen) and although it didn't damage the charts, you can imagine Sinatra doing a very slow version, or even Tom Waits in the Seventies in a bedraggled bar embracing its sentiment.

Damn, it even has a slight Western Swing feel about it, but it's also a blues song, a 2am ballad . . . and could even be spoken word "with instrumental backing" as they used to say on old 78s.

It's Willie, and it's a classic.

Albeit an unknown one. 

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

Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello: My Brave Face (1988 demo)

Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello: My Brave Face (1988 demo)

Elsewhere recently essayed at length the expended reissue of Paul McCartney's album Flowers in the Dirt from 1989, the album the returned him to critical favour after many lesser albums in the... > Read more

Paper Knife: title unknown (1996?)

Paper Knife: title unknown (1996?)

At some time in the mid Nineties while in Tokyo I ambled through Yoyogi Park where the Fifites rock'n'roll stylists slick back their hair and dance to old Elvis, and girls and boys alike dress like... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE INCIDENT, a film by LARRY PEERCE (Madman DVD)

THE INCIDENT, a film by LARRY PEERCE (Madman DVD)

This exceptionally taut black'n'white drama from 1967 is one the great cult films, not just for its undeniable filmic qualities but the fact it was for so long unavailable on DVD or, to the best of... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . ABNER JAY: Play dem bones and skulls

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . ABNER JAY: Play dem bones and skulls

There is an interesting photo of singer and one-man band Abner Jay in the late Seventies playing at what is described as a folk festival. As he pours his all into whatever song has captured him, by... > Read more