Release Date: Feb 3, 2009
Record label: Bismeaux
It was just a matter of time before Willie Nelson cut a record with fellow Texan legends Asleep at the Wheel: Willie may duet with anybody who wanders onto his bus, but he and the Wheel have a shared background in Western swing, a background they explore thoroughly on 2009's Willie and the Wheel. If it seems like Willie and the Wheel should have cut an album together a little earlier than 2009, well, they almost did. During Nelson's seminal stint at Atlantic in the early '70s, producer/label head Jerry Wexler urged Willie to record a duet album with the Wheel, but Nelson left the label before it could happen.
Legends run the risk of becoming gimmicks. When Aretha Franklin is trotted out at Obama’s inauguration, befitted in her enormous hat to sing the National Anthem, the effect is less musical than it is contextual. It’s not about Aretha singing the anthem, it’s about “Aretha” singing the “anthem”. A voice that’s iconic and unique and immediately recognizable can actually become a weakness.