Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Always Being Lazy

 I really like Willie Nelson. Who doesn't? He seems like a cool dude. It's cool that though his voice is not the strongest or the most classically beautiful, he totally makes it work. Like if Tim Gunn eat baked beans cold right out the can. Willie even uses these perceived limitations to his advantage; his sometimes reedy-ass croak becomes quite evocative in conveying feelings of lonesomeness/heartbreak/long lines at the churro place/whatervs. So he def kicks it sometimes and gets rowdy, like on "Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer)", but what we probably dig most about him, and country music in general, are the high-lonesome jams, the crying-in-your-beer (or, in my case, strawberry banana orange juice) stuff. Whether over a lone guitar or stacked, Mancini-ish orchestration, dude's lamenting the heartache of loss and shit, and best believe you're buying what that plaintive bastard is selling.

  "Always on My Mind": big Willie style, right? With the backing vocals and grand piano and string meeting with the pedal steel, the waterworks are flowing like Napoleon III never existed. The voice aches, the regret is near-palpable, HE'S IN. Ducks are flyin' fuckin' RIGHT. Where in "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" the subtlety of the music matches the restraint of his vocal line, bitterly kicking your heart in the tearducts, the pop overload of "Always" ain't restrained by jackity nothing. Straight for the kill. If you've ever felt shitty about something, and not even necessarily the mistreatment of your old lady; you can feel bad that you didn't take good enough care of that rhododendron three summers ago, Willie will make you weep. You'll feel like freaking Schindler, anguishing over the realization, in hindsight, that you could have done so much more. Except, uh, minus the Nazis. 

 So you feel bad and Willie feels bad and everyone's pissed at themselves but crying at the same time to be forgiven. Take me back! You're scoring the montage of our good times of picnics and probably slow-motion, sun-dappled flights on rope swings turning to broken flatware and two week trips to "go down to the store to get cigarettes". I swear, they were out of Luckys everywhere but in Missouri! But that's where the flaw of this song lies. I loved it and it always made me misty but, like, Willie kinda acted like a shit. Dude ain't too suave to get out of it, neither. He almost is, with the little choke in his voice going into the chorus again at around 3:00 or the Canadian way he says "sorry", but , man, you gotta own up to it! 

 It's insulting that after all the mistreatment he's heaped out on his lady in favor of carousing with Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings that all a sudden a godlike guitar solo is going to get his ass out of the fire. And it might work for him because he's Willie Nelson, but what about the rest of us idiots? He's making us look bad! I have, as have we all, done my fair share of effin' up but because I didn't record "Sad Songs and Waltzes" I don't get the same treatment. WEAK. It's totally Kirk van Houten trying to win back Luanne with "Can I Borrow a Feeling", except that this particular glove of love is used in jeans commercials or whatevers. 

 And yeah, the typically easy cadence of his voice may underlie a deeper sense of regret blar bar blar but maybe he's just lazy and too busy doing lines off of Julio Iglesias's tracksuit to get it together and sound actually sincere. I just came to this opinion about the song yesterday so maybe I'm way off base but still. I'm not saying you've got to be some emo pussy about it and abase yourself forever, but let's put some wrist into it, fellas! Sometimes you've got to suffer a few grease burns to make roasted potatoes, right? Shit's still gonna make me cry a little bit, don't get it twisted, I'll just recognize the folly of it all a bit more keenly. And probably update this thing with more frequency than I have.