One Track Mind: Willie Nelson, “The Wall” from Band of Brothers (2014)

Willie Nelson, as this song and video make clear, has seen it all in his 81 years. There have been stratospheric highs and just as dizzying lows. More awards than he can count, and plenty of heartache, too. He’s come out on the other side with more than mantel full of momentos, however.

Willie Nelson sounds at peace.

At peace with his place, at peace with himself. At peace with where he’s been but, even more importantly, where he’s headed. That’s no small thing, for musicians of his vintage, who too often spend their last act fruitlessly trying to recapture youth, trying to chase the zeitgeist. Trying too much.

He’s not been immune. “The Wall,” the advance cut from Nelson’s June 17, 2014 release Band of Brothers, arrives like a breath of fresh air during a period more busy than necessarily groundbreaking. Frankly, there has been a little too much time spent lately on duets, frankly silly items or else genre exercises. Still, it was worth the wait.

Willie Nelson, we’re happy to report, is still Willie Nelson. “The Wall” could have been part of any high point in his storied career — as the follow up to “Hello Walls,” as a deep cut on Wanted! The Outlaws, inside the oaken atmospherics of Teatro or as a more personal remembrance by a character from “Ponchy and Lefty.”

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso