When he isn’t pimping for the presidential campaign of Dennis Kucinich (now humming along to the tune of 0% public support!), 70-year-old Willie Nelson is making remarkably youthful music on a pace that would daunt a performer half his age.
Willie’s latest outing is an exceptional duet with another grizzled Texan, 77-year-old Ray Price, the Cherokee Cowboy, and together they have made Run That By Me One More Time (their second outing together, 23 years after their first, San Antonio Rose) a Western swinging, honky tonking delight in 4/4 shuffle and 3/4 waltz time.
Willie’s reedy, supple tenor treads lightly but echoes deeply on lost and losing love, and Price’s booming baritone, now a bit frayed around the edges, is the perfect counterpoint. Bobby Floores’ fiddle and David Zettner on pedal steel contribute to the timeless but never dated sawdust and teardrops sensibility.
Their voices play tag, blend at key moments, and illuminate traditional classics like Fred Rose’s “Deep Water,” “Home In San Antone,” “It wouldn’t Be the Same Without You,” and Floyd Tillman’s “This Cold War With You,” but it is the singer’s originals that shine the brightest.
The pair’s “I’ve Just Destroyed the World I’m Living In” boasts a graceful melody, poignant self-examination, and some charming guitar work from Nelson, whose nylon-stringed, jazzy acoustic leads are as identifiable as his voice. Nelson’s “Something to Think About” is similarly ruminative, but Price’s “Soft Rain” is best of all: a palpable sweet, sad drizzle of regret and fiddle with Price reaching down to the very soul of Country and Western, a spot Nashville pop hasn’t touched in a generation.