Willie Nelson’s Teatro

By James Calemine

Produced by Daniel Lanois, Willie Nelson’s album Teatro was released in 1998. Teatro sounds like no other Nelson album. These 14 songs retain the signature lush Lanois sonic landscape. Lanois produced Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Chris Whitley, Emmylou Harris and U2 to name a few.

Emmylou Harris sings on 11 of the 14 songs. Other musicians on Teatro include Lanois, Tony Mangurian, Bobbie Nelson, Brian Griffiths, Mickey Raphael, Malcolm Burn, Willie Green, Cyril Neville, Brad Mehldau and Victor Indrizzo.

The moody “Ou Es-Tu Mon Amour?” opens Teatro with just Nelson playing his guitar and his sister on Wurlitzer. A southwestern jazzy vibe soaks the song “I Never Cared For You”, which turns out to be one of the album’s finest renditions. The love song “Everywhere I Go” is hard to forget, and Lanois’ production only strengthens this version. Another Nelson original, “Darkness On The Face of the Earth”, comes to light with Emmylou Harris singing like an angel beside the songwriter.

“My Own Peculiar Way” stands as another classic tune. It was Emmylou Harris that said if America had one voice it would be that of Willie Nelson. “Home Motel” exists as a heart-rending road song. The version of the Lanois song, “The Maker”, emits a side-winding soul that Willie Green made famous at Hi-Records in Memphis. Nelson’s voice on “I Just Can’t Let You Say Goodbye” resonates in his lyrics: “I had not planned on seeing you/I was afraid of what I’d do/But pride is strong and here I am/I just can’t let you say goodbye.”

The Willie Nelson/Ray Price composition “I’ve Just Destroyed The World” stands as an honest heartbreak ballad. The centerpiece gem of Teatro counts as “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces”–what a song! “Three Days” showcases the amazing harmonies of Nelson and Emmylou propelled by Brad Mehldau’s rolling piano.

“I’ve Loved You All Over The World” represents one of Nelson’s greatest songs about friendship…even when the friends aren’t together. The final cut on Teatro is an amazing jazz instrumental called “Annie” that could almost pass as psychedelic Hawaiian music. Best heard during sunset…

Read the Willie Nelson story in Insured Beyond The Grave Vol. 2.


The Local Stranger

Insured Beyond The Grave Vol. 1