Willie Nelson

The Essential Willie Nelson [RCA]

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The 20 songs on this set were recorded between 1965 and 1971, long before Willie Nelson's commercial breakthrough with "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain." All of the songs were produced by Chet Atkins or his able assistant, Felton Jarvis. As explained in the album notes, the producers were trying to marry Nelson's folksy blues style with commercial country-style arrangements, a union which produced no major country hits. Still, these were some of Nelson's best-known songs which had been popularized by other artists. Spare Nelson standards such as "Healing Hands of Time," "Hello Walls," "Funny How Time Slips Away," "Night Life," and "The Party's Over" are all here.

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