Willie Nelson Covers Coldplay’s “The Scientist”

Willie Nelson Has Just Covered Coldplay's "The Scientist" As Part Of An Awareness Campaign For Chiplote

Ask people in South America to name some emblematic country artists, and one they’re sure to mention is Willie Nelson. His long, unstoppable career and his cross-genre collaborations (sometimes with best-selling Latin artists like Julio Iglesias) have made him one of the better-known country musicians in Spanish-speaking countries. And as far as Uruguay is concerned, the composer of “Red Headed Stranger” must be one of the most popular country performers ever along with Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers and Alabama.

I think the video embedded below does nothing but underline the versatility which has made Nelson so popular worldwide. It’s a cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist”, recorded as part of an awareness campaign for Chiplote.

The video (which depicts a farmer who regrets turning his organic farm into a factory farm) has clearly been created to highlight the importance of sustainable food, and also to emphasize the focus on natural, organic products in Chiplote’s restaurants. It’s interesting to point out how this clip (which has been named “Back to the Start”) is similar in approach to Coldplay’s original video, in which everything is told in reverse order.

Willie’s version of “The Scientist” is being sold in iTunes, with $0.60 of each download going straight to the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation.

The Johnny Cash Project Is Nominated For A Grammy

A Pciture Of Johnny Cash With His Wife, June Carter.

A Picture Of Johnny Cash With His Wife And Savior, June Carter.

OK, I know that asking you to make an effort after all that you must have imbibed and ingested yesternight and try to remember what I wrote about The Johnny Cash Project two months ago is too much. Just click here and read what I posted back there and then about it.

And believe me, there is a very good reason to do that. The Johnny Cash Project is up for a Grammy, no less.

The crowd-sourced clip for “Ain’t No Grave” which is found on the site has been nominated for best short form video.

The nomination is a triumph in itself. The video is taking on monster hits like Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and “Love The Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna. Both clips have more than 200 million views in YouTube each (Lady Gaga’s clip actually moved past the 300 million milestone not so long ago).

Congratulations to filmmaker Chris Milk (the one who dreamed up the whole project) and also to all the people who have already contributed to it, obviously.

Hmm… I think it’s about time I got down to reviewing the country legend on MusicKO, wouldn’t you say? Let me see what I can do before the year comes to a close…

The Johnny Cash Project Is Building The Ultimate Tribute To The Man In Black

Johnny Cash Performing Live

Johnny Cash Performing Live

The Johnny Cash Project is a collective art initiative. People from all over the globe are invited to submit their own drawings of Johnny Cash, and these will eventually form a crowd-sourced video celebrating the release of  the posthumous “Ain’t No Grave”.

In the words of the people who have created The Johnny Cash Project:

“Through this website, we invite you to share your vision of Johnny Cash, as he lives on in your mind’s eye. Working with a single image as a template, and using a custom drawing tool, you’ll create a unique and personal portrait of Johnny. Your work will then be combined with art from participants around the world, and integrated into a collective whole: a music video for “Ain’t No Grave”, rising from a sea of one-of-a-kind portraits.”

All in all, quite a splendid chance to show people from all over the world what Cash meant (and still means) to you, and let them see him through your very eyes. And if you are not a great illustrator, then you needn’t worry. You will actually be provided with an image that will act as your point of reference to draw Johnny.

Love Songs (Dan Fogelberg) – Compilation Album

This Compilation Of Love Songs Was First Released In 1995. The Four Hits From “The Innocent Age” Were Thankfully Included.

This Compilation Of Love Songs Was First Released In 1995. The Four Hits From “The Innocent Age” Were Thankfully Included.

I bought this compilation as a sort of consolation prize. Some time ago I made the horrific blunder of passing on the “36 All-time Favorites” album and when I realized what I had done it was too late. They had already sold it, and the chances of seeing it again in Uruguay are non-existent. So, when I came across this anthology I had to go for it.

As a compilation, this is not really bad. It gives you a clear indication of the man’s brilliance. It does not, however, give you an indication of his scope. You wouldn’t know he was capable of crafting albums like “Twin Sons of Different Mothers” or “High Country Snows” by merely listening to this.

Still, it is impossible to dislike a CD that has all the four singles from “The Innocent Age” (“Leader Of The Band”, “Run For The Roses”, “Same Old Lang Syne” and “Hard To Say”). Continue reading

It Won’t Be The Last (Billy Ray Cyrus) – Album Review

Billy Ray Cyrus' Second Disc Was Quite Successful But It Couldn't Match The Sales Of The Debut

Billy Ray Cyrus' Second Disc Was Quite Successful, Yet It Could not Match The Sideral Sales Of The Debut

“It Won’t Be The Last” was Billy Ray Cyrus’s second full-length album. It was released in the summer of 1993, shortly after his mega-successful debut had hit the shelves. I regard it as a major step forward. But it is not that the album is miles away from the previous one, it is just that it has gone the (relatively short) distance that would lead to a more balanced listen. The first time around it felt like the ballads and the rockers did not mesh. That problem was to be resolved by “It Won’t Be The Last”. The key word here is “focused”. There is a clear middle ground between ballads and rock numbers (such as the successful single “Words By Heart”), and the flow of the album feels more natural this time around.

The record has 11 tracks, and the first six are a true pleasure. The single “In The Heart Of Woman” was a foolproof way to set the disc in motion, and having it followed by one of the many Don Von Tress songs on offer (“Talk Some”) was the best way to keep the momentum going. Von Tress was to be the primary tunesmith for the album. That was only to be expected – he had penned “Achy Breaky Heart” and “Talk Some” is the best rocker he contributes to this record, in my opinion. The other rock number (“Ain’t Your Dog No More”) feels too overtly like an Achy Break Heart surrogate, and a forced one at that. Continue reading

Some Gave All (Billy Ray Cyrus) – Album Review

Billy Ray Cyrus' Debut Is Titled After The Words Of A Vietnam Veteran Named Randy Kane

Billy Ray Cyrus' Debut Is Titled After The Words Of A Vietnam Veteran Named Sandy Kane

Billy Ray Cyrus’s debut was first issued in 1992, and more than 15 years later it still retains a couple of significant records such as being the top-ranking album by a country male performer, and (most notably) the best selling debut album from a male artist – more than 20,000,000 copies have been sold worldwide. Of course, it is the album that has “Achy Breaky Heart” – for my take on the song and the impact it had on Billy’s career I direct you to the general introduction I posted yesterday. Three more singles were drawn from “Some Gave All”, and they all did pretty well on the charts – “Could’ve Been Me” hit number 2, actually. The other two singles were “She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore” and “Wher’m I Gonna Live” (they charted at #6 and #23 respectively).

Before being signed up, the consensus was that Billy was too much of a rocker for Nashville and too much of a country performer for LA. Leaving aside the monster hit of the record, that is something which comes across when you listen to the album. The songs are either full-on country (the vast majority of compositions) or unbridled rock numbers. Personally, I feel these rock cuts are fantastic, and they are the ones that stick in my mind after listening to the CD. I am surprised that “Never Thought That I’d Fall In Love With You” was not issued as a single – Mercury probably though that issuing three harder-rocking compositions could be counterproductive. The fact is that the song has a great guitar part throughout, and a drum track that shifts from accompanying to leading in a snap, then reverts itself again. I like the song as much as the achy breaky one, and the fact it was never overplayed is just a big plus. Continue reading

Billy Ray Cyrus – General Introduction

Billy Ray Cyrus Performing During The "Achy Breaky Heart" Days

Billy Ray Cyrus Performing During The "Achy Breaky Heart" Days

Success is not as simple or charming as it seems. Not necessarily a phenomenal bout of early success will mean that it is going to be a smooth ride from that point onwards. And I am sure few know that as well as Billy Ray Cyrus.

To the general public, he is always going to be associated with his monster hit from 1992, “Achy Breaky Heart”. As it is (very accurately) said elsewhere, it was to be the song that would make him and break him. The song must have been one of the most played tunes of the 90s. In South America, it was still being played like the first day well into 1995. And in the States, it caused a true mania that included an “Achy Breaky Dance” – the first time such a thing had happened with a country song. Continue reading

In The Mood: The Love Songs (Alabama) – Compilation Album

ALabama's "In The Mood: The Love Songs" Was Released In 2003. It Featured 2 New Songs.

Alabama's "In The Mood: The Love Songs" Was Released In 2003. It Featured 2 New Tracks.

Alabama has gone down in history as the most successful group in the history of country music. That is, in a scene that has traditionally been dominated by single performers they did give collectives a definitive chance to push the boundaries of the genre, and the way it has always been perceived.

I was overjoyed to find this compilation when I traveled to Argentina to attend an Elton John gig during The Rocket Tour, if only because not a single disc by them is available where I live. You might think that is strange, but what would you say if I told you that there are no albums by Garth Brooks either here? The ones I have are all imports. That reminds me I live in the opposite end of the world, but it makes me place a high value on these albums that I import, while it also makes me do my homework and figure out which ones could be sound purchases. Coming back to this compilation, when I bought it I knew I was only getting a part of the story that (while compelling) is not necessarily the defining one. Any compilation that hasn’t got “Mountain Music”, “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)” and “Dixieland Delight” (their calling card in South America) is incomplete by definition. It’s like watching Star Wars and omitting the part when Darth Vader reveals he is Luke’s father. In a sense it doesn’t matter because everybody and his wife know that by now. With this compilation, it is the same – everybody knows these compositions I have mentioned by heart. Every single person who is into country music is more than familiarized with them. Continue reading

Heartaches & Highways – The Very Best Of Emmylou Harris

Emmylou Harris' "Heartaches & Highways" Compilation Was Released In 2005

Emmylou Harris' "Heartaches & Highways" Compilation Was Released In 2005

A compilation like this one is particularly useful when it comes to artists whose catalogs are colossal in depth. You see, “Heartaches & Highways” (2005) is an anthology which was assembled by Emmylou herself. It is interesting to listen to the story the way she wants to tell it. If you are an old fan, you get to see which songs she deems as the ones that shaped her career. And if you are a newcomer, you have the chance of sampling the songs she might like to be remembered by, effectively getting acquainted with her music like that.

Although not strictly a “best of” album, the CD definitely leans on hits, as her first song to hit the charts with force (“If I Could Only Win Your Love”) is included amid a series of tunes that she has either turned into standards or rejuvenated completely, such as “Two More Bottles Of Wine”, “Lost His Love In Our Last Date” and the sweet “To Know Him Is To Love Him” from the celebrated “Trio” album:

A nice choice (and one that clearly strays from a “very best” motif) is “Pancho & Lefty”. Emmylou’s version precedes the successful take by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. While the ones who struck gold where the two outlaws, Emmylou at least pointed the way to the treasure in a very elegant way indeed.

An absolute highlight is her duet with Roy Orbison on “That Lovin’ You Feelin’”. The mix is crisper than the one I had listened to on her “Duets” album, too. The difference is not pronounced, but the guitars have more space and the song on the whole sounds even more refined. Continue reading

At The Ryman (Emmylou Harris) – Album Review

The Album Earned Emmylou A Grammy

The Album Earned Emmylou A Grammy

This celebrated live album had Emmylou backed by one of the best ensembles of her whole career (The Nash Ramblers), and it earned her a Grammy. The concert was so significant that the Ryman auditorium (which was set to be demolished) was actually preserved and remodeled.

The set Emmylou played that night paid equal debt to both classic and contemporary American tunesmiths. Songs by Stephen Foster (“Hard Times”) were played side to side with songs by John Fogerty (“Lodi”) and Bruce Springsteen (“Mansion On The Hill”).

The performance itself is not only very well-recorded, but Emmylou is charming from start to finish, interacting with the public at every turn, cracking jokes and narrating stories of her life on the road – the one before “Lodi” is one of the funniest I have ever listened to. Continue reading