Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release Willie Nelson’s latest album, For The Good Times: A Tribute To Ray Price, on Friday, September 16. On his new album, Willie has teamed up with a pair of longtime friends–producer Fred Foster and conductor/arranger Bergen White–who, like Nelson, are American country music veterans with deep connections to the legendary Ray Price. Foster and White worked together to complete Ray Price’s final album,Beauty Is…, at Nashville’s Ocean Way Studios, where Willie Nelson has returned to create the magic of For The Good Times: A Tribute To Ray Price.
For The Good Times: A Tribute To Ray Price celebrates the wide-reaching impact and influence of Ray Priceon American pop and country music, from Price’s hallmark lush orchestral arrangements (presaging “countrypolitan”) to the patented “Ray Price Shuffle,” the groundbreaking 4/4 walking bass line which transformed honky-tonk and country-western swing music in 1950s on hits like “Crazy Arms.”
Providing musical backup for Willie on six of the album’s tracks–“Invitation To The Blues,” “Heartaches By The Numbers,” “Crazy Arms,” “City Lights,” “I’ll Be There” and “Don’t You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me”–Willie is joined by The Time Jumpers, the Grammy-nominated Western Swing dream team comprised of Vince Gill(electric and acoustic guitar, harmony vocals), Andy Reiss (electric guitar), Larry Franklin (fiddle), Joe Spivey(fiddle), Kenny Sears (fiddle), Brad Albin (bass), Billy Thomas (drums), Jeff Taylor (piano and accordion), Paul Franklin (pedal steel) and Willie’s Family Band harmonica player Mickey Raphael.
For the orchestral tracks on For The Good Times: A Tribute To Ray Price, the Nashville String Machine, a full ensemble featuring violins, violas, cellos, string basses, sax, flute and oboe, accompanies Willie.
A seminal figure in post-WWII American country music, singer/songwriter/guitarist Ray Price began his career singing on the local Abilene, Texas radio program “Hillbilly Circus” in 1948 before joining the “Big D Jamboree” in Dallas a year later. When CBS picked up the show, Price began garnering his first national exposure. Moving to Nashville in the early 1950s, Price became friends with country music avatar Hank Williams, going on to manage the Drifting Cowboys after Hank’s death in 1953. That same year, Ray Price formed his own band, the Cherokee Cowboys, a country music ensemble that would employ Willie Nelson as bassist in 1961.
Friends from their first meeting until Ray Price’s passing in 2013, Willie and Ray shared a profound musical bond, exemplified in Price’s hit recordings of Willie-penned songs like the career-defining “Night Life” and “It Always Will Be.”
A visionary and iconoclastic artist, Ray Price defined and shifted the course of American country music over the course of his career. In the 1950s and 1960s, he kept grassroots country sounds alive through the infusion of rock ‘n’ roll and pop music elements, going so far as to utilize drums at a time when the Grand Ole Opry had banned them from its stage. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, Price became one of the godfathers of “countrypolitan,” combining lush orchestral arrangements with smooth-as-silk crooning. Ray Price’s music connected honky-tonk to big band to rock ‘n’ roll to country swing to pop. America’s musical landscape would look and sound very different without the contributions of Ray Price.
The profound musical relationship between Willie Nelson and Ray Price goes back to 1960, when Nelson, an aspiring singer-songwriter, moved to Nashville to further his career. Willie’s composition, “Night Life,” becameRay Price’s theme music, the song he’d use to open his shows. As Willie’s star rose in the country music firmament, he continued to collaborate with Price, releasing the albums San Antonio Rose (1980), Run That by Me One More Time (2003) and Last of the Breed (2007), a trio album with Merle Haggard. Ray Price made an appearance, singing “Cold War with You,” on Willie’s 2012 Legacy album Heroes.
For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price debuts Willie’s new interpretations of 12 songs Price made famous, including “Heartaches by the Number,” “Crazy Arms,” “Night Life,” “Faded Love” and “For the Good Times.”
Willie Nelson – For The Good Times: A Tribute To Ray Price
1. Heartaches By The Number (featuring The Time Jumpers)
2. I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me) (featuring The Time Jumpers)
3. Faded Love
4. It Always Will Be
5. City Lights (featuring The Time Jumpers)
6. Don’t You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me (featuring The Time Jumpers)
7. Make The World Go Away
8. I’m Still Not Over You
9. Night Life
10. Crazy Arms (featuring The Time Jumpers)
11. Invitation To The Blues (featuring The Time Jumpers)
12. For The Good Times
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