Before 1998 I could not stand to even hear five seconds of Willie Nelson. I would rather listen to Celine Dion (ok, maybe not) than deal with a song by Willie Nelson. I could appreciate his talent for song writing - "Crazy" is an amazing song, when performed by Patsy Cline (not Celine Dion or Willie). Before 1998 I really was not a fan of country music at all... but Willie was the worst of the pack. I liked Johnny Cash... but I saw him more of a story teller (like Nick Cave) rather than a straight-up country singer.
In the summer of 1998 I had a meeting at Island Records where my company was hired on to work the new Willie Nelson album "Teatro." I was so BUMMED to say the least. My two co-workers who attended the meeting as well were over the top excited to work a Willie album (I was baffled). So I faked my excitement at the meeting, took my copy, and bitched the would ride back to the office. I just knew we were being set up to fail by this guy at Island we had nick-named Surf'n'Turf (not really sure why)... but he was not a fan of ours and hated hiring out company.
I started listening to the CD on my Discman on the F Train rides to work every morning because I needed to try to come up with something good to say about it. With one listen I was hooked. Hooked. This album was very close to brilliant. It did not hurt that Emmylou Harris lends her sweet and soulful voice... and Daniel Lanois brings the band's simplistic sound so nicely together. And very quickly "Teatro" became my most listened to record of 1998... and it also opened up my mind to Dwight Yoakam since I was no longer aboard the "I hate all country music" bandwagon. Plus the campaign we were hired on was very very successful.
Yesterday I pulled out my copy of "Teatro" for the first time in a few years and was reminded of what amazing album Willie Nelson released in 1998. You should give it a listen.
BTW, my top 10 that year was:
1. Black Heart Procession "1" (headhunter-cargo)
2. Godspeed You Black Emperor! "F#A#(Infinity)" (kranky)
3. Mojave 3 "Out Of Tune" (4ad)
4. Quasi "Featuring Birds" (up)
5. Willie Nelson "Teatro" (island)
6. DJs Z-Trip & Radar "Soundsessions Vol. 2" (future primitive)
7. Jets to Brazil "Orange Rhyming Dictionary" (jade tree)
8. Joan of Arc "How Memory Works" (jade tree)
9. Pedro The Lion "It's Hard To Find A Friend" (made in mexico)
10. Dwight Yoakam "A Long Way Home" (reprise)