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One Hell of a Ride [Box Set]

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Willie Nelson 4/1/2008

Review

Navigating Willie Nelson's immense body of recordings can be daunting even for committed fans. There is so much music and so much of it good that it's hard to keep straight, especially as each of his many eras has been compiled, collected, and reissued countless time, leading to a discography thick with redundancies -- and then there's the stubborn fact that for Willie, making music is like breathing, something that comes naturally, something that happens every day, so he keeps building upon that discography, releasing an album or two each year, which only adds to the confusion for neophytes and longtime fans alike. All of this is a roundabout way to say that there are plenty of Willie Nelson albums out there, that there's a surplus of compilations, but of all these, nothing offers such a complete, useful overview of his entire career as Columbia/Legacy's four-disc 2008 box One Hell of a Ride. This is not the first Willie box that Legacy has released, of course -- in 1995 they put out the triple-disc Revolutions of Time: The Journey 1975-1993 -- but this is the first box to ever attempt a thorough overview of his career, beginning with his earliest singles for Sarg and D, running through the countrypolitan Nashville productions of his Liberty Records and his wonderfully rambling RCA recordings of the '60s, then settling into the star-making sides for Columbia in the '70s and '80s, yet the set doesn't end there, as it runs through his albums for Island and Mercury in the '90s and 2000s. For sheer scope, this beats all, but what makes One Hell of a Ride so useful is that it covers all the ground accurately, picking a blend of hits, concert staples, and relative obscurities to present a career overview that may be illuminating even for serious fans, as this tells a full, complete story with its 100 tracks Like many great stories, the details may be fudged a bit here -- on the second disc the tracks don't quite follow in chronological order -- but that doesn't matter because all this tweaking is done in service of the bigger picture, which is as it should be when a picture is this large. Listening to the whole of One Hell of a Ride, it's hard not to marvel yet again at the enormity of Willie's career. If he had only authored the standards "Nite Life," "Crazy," "Hello Walls," and "Funny How Time Slips Away," his place in history would be assured, but this set illustrates how Nelson strengthened the jazzy sophistication underpinning these tunes by digging deeper into Western swing, just as he slyly brought rock, folk, and pop flourishes into his music. By the time the Outlaw years roll around in the midst of the second disc here, his music was hard to peg -- certainly it was country, but not in the strictest definition, as it encompassed so much more, from the stark Red Headed Stranger to the lush Stardust, and what is remarkable about One Hell of a Ride is that by listening to it from beginning to end, none of these moves feel forced, all the evolutions feel natural, and the excellent fourth disc -- which neatly cherry-picks from a rollercoaster two decades of recordings -- illustrates that his evolution did not end when he achieved superstardom, but rather he kept finding new truths in music, sometimes through new tunes, sometimes by revisiting the past, as the nifty book-ending of the set with a new version of his first recording "When I've Sung My Last Hillbilly Song" makes clear. Willie will continue to build upon the legacy offered within this box, but that will not change the fact that this is the best place to learn and appreciate that legacy, and to learn to love it. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 When I've Sang My Last Hillbilly Song Willie Nelson 1:30
  3. 2 No Place for Me Willie Nelson 1:20
  4. 3 Man with the Blues Willie Nelson 2:7
  5. 4 Nite Life Willie Nelson 2:29
  6. 5 Hello Walls Willie Nelson 2:25
  7. 6 Funny How Time Slips Away Willie Nelson 3:4
  8. 7 Crazy Willie Nelson 2:53
  9. 8 Half a Man Willie Nelson 2:27
  10. 9 Mr. Record Man Willie Nelson 2:12
  11. 10 One in a Row Willie Nelson 2:31
  12. 11 The Party's Over Willie Nelson 2:25
  13. 12 Texas in My Soul Willie Nelson 2:0
  14. 13 Good Times Willie Nelson 2:26
  15. 14 Sweet Memories Willie Nelson 3:13
  16. 15 Little Things Willie Nelson 3:17
  17. 16 Any Old Arms Won't Do Willie Nelson 2:31
  18. 17 Everybody's Talkin' Willie Nelson 3:23
  19. 18 Pins and Needles (In My Heart) Willie Nelson 3:17
  20. 19 Once More with Feeling Willie Nelson 2:37
  21. 20 I Gotta Get Drunk Willie Nelson 2:14
  22. 21 Laying My Burdens Down Willie Nelson 2:36
  23. 22 What Can You Do to Me Now Willie Nelson 3:27
  24. 23 Kneel at the Feet of Jesus Willie Nelson 2:46
  25. 24 I'm a Memory Willie Nelson 2:23
  26. 25 Family Bible Willie Nelson 3:11
  27. 26 Summer of Roses Willie Nelson 2:5
  28. 27 Yesterday's Wine Willie Nelson 3:12
  29. 28 Me and Paul Willie Nelson 3:46
  30. 29 The Words Don't Fit the Picture Willie Nelson 2:47
  31. 1 Good Hearted Woman Waylon Jennings 2:56
  32. 2 You Left a Long, Long Time Ago Willie Nelson 2:39
  33. 3 She's Not for You Willie Nelson 2:30
  34. 4 You Ought to Hear Me Cry Willie Nelson 2:40
  35. 5 It Should Be Easier Now Willie Nelson 2:44
  36. 6 Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys Willie Nelson 2:30
  37. 7 If You Can't Touch Her at All Willie Nelson 3:1
  38. 8 I Can Get off on You Waylon Jennings 2:20
  39. 9 Blackjack County Chain Willie Nelson 2:1
  40. 10 Johnny One Time Willie Nelson 2:43
  41. 11 Bring Me Sunshine Willie Nelson 2:12
  42. 12 I Just Can't Let You Say Goodbye Willie Nelson 2:43
  43. 13 Shotgun Willie Willie Nelson 2:44
  44. 14 Sad Songs and Waltzes Willie Nelson 3:8
  45. 15 The Troublemaker Willie Nelson 1:51
  46. 16 Uncloudy Day Willie Nelson 4:40
  47. 17 Bloody Mary Morning Willie Nelson 2:51
  48. 18 I Still Can't Believe You're Gone Willie Nelson 4:20
  49. 19 Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain Willie Nelson 2:18
  50. 20 I'd Have to Be Crazy Willie Nelson 3:24
  51. 21 If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time Willie Nelson 2:3
  52. 22 Always Late (With Your Kisses) Willie Nelson 2:24
  53. 23 She's Gone, Gone, Gone Willie Nelson 2:29
  54. 24 I Never Go Around Mirrors Willie Nelson 2:35
  55. 25 Stardust Willie Nelson 3:50
  56. 26 Georgia on My Mind Willie Nelson 4:17
  57. 27 A Song for You Willie Nelson 2:42
  58. 1 Whiskey River Willie Nelson 3:32
  59. 2 Till I Gain Control Again Willie Nelson 5:51
  60. 3 Stay a Little Longer Willie Nelson 3:26
  61. 4 Heartbreak Hotel Willie Nelson 3:0
  62. 5 One for My Baby (And One More for the Road) Willie Nelson 2:33
  63. 6 Help Me Make It Through the Night Willie Nelson 3:57
  64. 7 Midnight Rider [From the Electric Horseman] Willie Nelson 2:51
  65. 8 My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys [From the Electric Horseman] Willie Nelson 3:4
  66. 9 Crazy Arms Willie Nelson 2:42
  67. 10 On the Road Again [From Honeysuckle Rose] Willie Nelson 2:33
  68. 11 Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground [From Honeysuckle Rose] Willie Nelson 4:26
  69. 12 Mona Lisa Willie Nelson 2:31
  70. 13 I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter Willie Nelson 2:57
  71. 14 Always on My Mind Willie Nelson 3:28
  72. 15 Old Friends Roger Miller 3:6
  73. 16 Pancho and Lefty Willie Nelson 4:44
  74. 17 Reasons to Quit Willie Nelson 3:31
  75. 18 In the Jailhouse Now Willie Nelson 2:7
  76. 19 Why Do I Have to Choose Willie Nelson 3:10
  77. 20 City of New Orleans Willie Nelson 4:48
  78. 21 To All the Girls I've Loved Before Willie Nelson 3:29
  79. 22 Three Days Willie Nelson 3:10
  80. 23 Touch Me Willie Nelson 2:37
  81. 1 Write Your Own Songs [From Songwriter] Willie Nelson 3:18
  82. 2 Heart of Gold Willie Nelson 3:11
  83. 3 I'm Movin' On Willie Nelson 2:42
  84. 4 Seven Spanish Angels Willie Nelson 3:49
  85. 5 Highwayman Willie Nelson 3:0
  86. 6 Living in the Promiseland Willie Nelson 3:19
  87. 7 What a Wonderful World Willie Nelson 2:15
  88. 8 Country Willie Willie Nelson 3:43
  89. 9 Graceland Willie Nelson 4:44
  90. 10 Valentine Willie Nelson 3:36
  91. 11 What Was It You Wanted Willie Nelson 5:24
  92. 12 Still Is Still Moving to Me Willie Nelson 3:30
  93. 13 Too Sick to Pray Willie Nelson 2:43
  94. 14 Everywhere I Go Willie Nelson 3:53
  95. 15 My Own Peculiar Way Willie Nelson 3:40
  96. 16 Nuages Willie Nelson 3:41
  97. 17 Rainbow Connection Willie Nelson 4:32
  98. 18 Mendocino County Line Willie Nelson 4:34
  99. 19 The Harder They Come Willie Nelson 3:39
  100. 20 Bubbles in My Beer Willie Nelson 2:51
  101. 21 When I've Sung My Last Hillbilly Song Willie Nelson 3:27

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