New Willie Nelson Album to Include Last Recordings w/ Paul English

It was announced this week that Willie Nelson will release his second album in 2021 called The Willie Nelson Family on November 19th via Sony’s Legacy Records imprint. Being Willie’s 16th album for the label since signing in 2012, it’s been a steady dose of Willie Nelson releases at about a two-per-year clip to the point where perhaps the announcement of a new Willie Nelson might start to blend into the background, aside from the fact that at 88, we’re just happy to have Willie Nelson around and still contributing.

But this upcoming album does feel like a bit of a special case, especially for his Legacy Recordings era. Sure, he’s running through some old standards, including Willie’s own “Family Bible,” “I Saw The Light” by Hank Williams,” and “Keep It On the Sunnyside.” But this will be the first record on Legacy not produced by Buddy Cannon, aside from the Ray Price tribute in 2016. Instead, this selection of songs was recorded at Willie’s own Pedernales Studios in Austin, Texas right near his ranch, and produced by Willie Nelson himself with engineer and mixer Steve Chadie.

Along with being a truly family affair—with sister Bobbi, sons Lukas and Micah, daughters Lana and Amy all contributing, along with the Mickey Raphael on harmonica—it also includes the final recordings Willie Nelson made with his long time drummer and right hand man, Paul English. The hero of Willie’s hit song “Me & Paul,” English died on February 11, 2020 at the age of 87, but not before recording new versions of “Heaven and Hell,” “Kneel at the Feet of Jesus,” “Laying My Burdens Down” and “Family Bible” with the rest of the Family Band.

Born in 1933, the parents of Paul English were devout Christians, but despite his upbringing, English ended up becoming the leader of the “Peroxide Gang” in Ft. Worth, TX, and later a pimp. Fort Worth was the first place Willie Nelson really started playing music professionally, and in the late 50’s and early 60’s, it was a rough scene. One club Willie played at was Gray’s Bar that had to rig up chicken wire in front of the stage to protect the band.

Sometimes Willie Nelson would not get paid. This is when Willie met Paul. He became Willie’s strong man, and eventually Willie’s drummer. Many believe that if it wasn’t for Paul, Willie would have not been nearly as successful. And Paul says, “Had it not been for Willie, I would be dead or in the penitentiary.”

Willie Nelson gives a lot of credit to his success to the fact that he’s been able to keep the same people around him for so long. The very first part of that family was Paul English. Initially, Willie Nelson preferred Paul’s brother Billy English to play drums in the band, believing he was a better drummer. But Paul’s skills as a manager and businessman made him a mainstay in Willie’s band all the way until he passed away.

Though not exclusively a religious record, The Willie Nelson Family will have a very Gospel feel to it, with Willie recording many of his most religious songs. The album also includes George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” with Lukas Nelson singing lead, and Willie Nelson singing Kris Kristofferson’s “Why Me.”

Lukas Nelson has his own career fronting the band Promise of the Real, Amy Nelson has been a solo artist and SiriusXM DJ for years, Paula Nelson is one half of the enterprising and hilarious duo Folk Uke, and Micah Nelson plays in the band Particle Kid. They all appear on this record in one capacity or another, making it truly a family affair.

The Willie Nelson Family is now available for pre-order.

TRACK LIST:

1. Heaven and Hell (Willie Nelson)
2. Kneel at the Feet of Jesus (Willie Nelson)
3. Laying My Burdens Down (Willie Nelson)
4. Family Bible (Claude Gray, Paul Buskirk & Walt Breeland)
5. In the Garden (traditional)
6. All Things Must Pass (George Harrison)
7. I Saw the Light (Hank Williams, Sr.)
8. In God’s Eyes (Willie Nelson)
9. Keep It On the Sunnyside (A.P. Carter)
10. I Thought About You, Lord (Willie Nelson)
11. Too Sick To Pray (Willie Nelson)
12. Why Me (Kris Kristofferson)

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