Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Crazy 'bout Willie: Happy 75th Willie Nelson
Outlaw. Gunslinger. Songwriter. Interpreter. Virtuoso. Trailblazer. Golfer. Jogger. Hemp Enthusiast. Romantic. Picnic Thrower. Road Warrior. Highwayman. Tax Cheat. National Treasure. Willie Nelson, who turns 75 today, is all of these things and many more.
For all Willie’s successes, for all his genius as a singer and generosity as a live performer and guitarist, he is probably best known for writing the 1961 Patsy Cline classic “Crazy.”
Despite its Nashville pedigree, “Crazy” is as much a standard as anything written by Irving Berlin, Cole Porter or any of the more urbane pop sophisticates. With its beautiful melody, jazzy chords and well-chosen words, there's plenty of room for a singer to get cozy and make it his or her own. Lyrically, it brings to mind the definition of insanity: doing the same thing again and again, but expecting a different result.
For thinking that my love could hold you
I’m crazy for tryin’
Crazy for cryin’
And I’m crazy
For lovin’ you
Willie wrote the song in early 1961 when he was a struggling songwriter in Music City USA. According to Wikipedia, Willie “originally wrote the song for country singer Billy Walker, but Walker turned it down and Cline picked it as a follow up to her previous big hit "I Fall to Pieces." The song was released in late 1961 and immediately became another huge hit for Cline, eventually becoming one of her signature tunes, and its success helped launch Nelson as a performer as well as a songwriter.” To this day, “Crazy” is the most played song on jukeboxes in the US.
To bring this pivotal moment to life, Rock Turtleneck has restaged and filmed the Cline “Crazy” recording session, starring Jessica Lange as Patsy Cline:
Herewith, Willie’s original demo of “Crazy” from the essential 2003 compilation Crazy: The Demo Sessions, followed by Patsy Cline’s version, followed by a Willie Version from his 1998 VH1 Storytellers show with Johnny Cash, wherein he plays some masterful guitar and reveals the original working title of the song. And in further display of the song’s elasticity, a version from a 70th birthday tribute featuring Willie and cooler-than-thou married couple Diana Krall and Elvis Costello.
Happy 75th Willie!
mp3: Willie Nelson, "Crazy" (demo, 1961) Crazy: The Demo Sessions
mp3: Patsy Cline, "Crazy" Patsy Cline's 12 Greatest Hits
mp3: Willie Nelson & Johnny Cash, "Crazy" VH1 Storytellers
YouTube: Diana Krall, Elvis Costello & Willie Nelson, “Crazy”