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15 albums: teatro


in case you forgot, i'm still counting my 15 favorite albums of all time. willie nelson's teatro is one of the two i have left.
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that's right - i said willie nelson. but before some of you write this off as an album you wouldn't be interested in hearing; an album by an old country hick who sings in a pot-inflected voice about getting on the road again and not letting your babies grow up to be cowboys, just hold on a second. this album might surprise you. released in 1998, it features the expert producing of daniel lanois, who has also produced albums for bob dylan and u2, to name a few. with lanois at the helm, the album feels like the americana version of achtung, baby. and it not only features the amazingly laid-back latin-inspired guitar licks of willie, it also features backup vocals on nearly every track by the incomparable emmylou harris. the match is perfect, and the result is incredible. this is not your daddy's country music. and it certainly isn't your second cousin from alabama's country music. this is smart and sassy, genre-bending and, quite simply, great. the songs themselves are pretty classic willie, dealing for the most part with common themes of lost love and so on, but they feel like they've been baptized here, accompanied by the pulse of world-inspired percussion, a jazz piano, and willie's effortless-sounding guitar work. not only this, but the album feels like a complete package, each song fitting perfectly with the others, leaving you after 50 minutes with the feeling that you've just experienced something cohesive, something insprired, something important. if you are a big fan of willie nelson, you've no doubt heard this album, but if not, if you are a nominal fan, i urge you to pick it up. and if you are a willie-hater, or a country-hater, i challenge you to give it a try. you might be very surprised.
watch a great video of one of the songs from the album here.

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