Black Music Matters Festival

Willie Nelson

Honeysuckle Rose – 2003 (Columbia)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

In fact, the only reason worth sitting through this flick about cheating, drinking and partying was the soundtrack. This re-release of Willie Nelson's soundtrack to his painful debut as a leading man makes up for most of the movie's flaws, except for maybe the scene where Willie and Slim Pickens decide to drive a bus back from Mexico while absolutely stinkin' drunk on tequila. Now that's country. All right, maybe that's stupid. But we're dealing with Hollywood here.

Still, the soundtrack holds up quite well. Dyan Cannon's vocal contribution is much easier to skip past now that the album is on CD, yet Emmylou Harris sounds even better with her two cuts.

Perhaps lost in all the re-release hoopla is the fact Willie carried two drummers - Paul English and Rex Ludwig - and two bassists - Bee Spears and Chris Etheridge. Not surprisingly, many of these live songs absolutely kick ass. Longtime sideman Jody Payne's version of "Workin' Man's Blues" is absolutely intense, while "Whiskey River" and "Bloody Mary Morning," which bookend the instrumental version of "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line," showcase Willie at his in-concert best. Bad movie, great soundtrack. Not the first time, and it certainly won't be the last.