Personnel includes: Willie Nelson (vocals, guitar); Paul Buskirk, Pete Wade, Ray Edenton, Billy Strange, Glen Campbell, Harold Bradley, Leon Rhodes, Cal Smith, Jerry Reed, Velma Smith, Grady Martin, Chet Atkins, Chip Young, David Zentner (guitar); Herb Remington, Jimmy Day, Weldon Myrick, Buddy Charleton, Buddy Emmons (steel guitar); Clyde Brewer, Wade Ray, Buddy Spicher (fiddle); Dick Shannon (tenor saxophone, vibraphone); Hargus "Pig" Robbins, Leon Russell, Bill Pursell (piano); Bob Moore, Red Callender, Jack Drake, James Wilkerson, Roy "Junior" Huskey (bass); Willie Ackerman, Muddy Berry, Buddy Harman, Jack Greene, Johnny Bush, Jerry Carrigan (drums); Anita Kerr Singers, Anna Johnson, Judy Johnson, Margaret Wills, Mary Johnson (background vocals).
Producers: Pappy Daily, Joe Allison, Tommy Allsup, Chet Atkins, Felton Jarvis.
Compilation producer: James Austin.
Includes liner notes by Rich Kienzle.
Long before Willie Nelson spearheaded the "outlaw country" movement, he made a go at mainstream country success, which, in the late 1950s and 1960s, meant "the Nashville sound." Nelson wrote songs with jazz and blues progressions, then recorded them with such non-traditional country instrumentation as piano, organ, saxophone, vibes, and lush background choruses. His best efforts from this period are collected on NITE LIFE, an album that spans the years between 1959 and 1971 and includes both hits and overlooked rarities.
The hits include "Nite Life," "Hello Walls" (a big hit for Faron Young), "Funny How Time Slips Away," and perhaps the greatest song ever sold outright for $50, "Crazy." Throughout, Willie's love for and deep empathy with great American composers from Hoagy Carmichael to Hank Williams is abundantly evident. The trademark idiosyncratic guitar leads are missing, but Willie's syncopated vocal style is already fully formed. The final track, "Me and Paul," in which Willie lays bare his comfort with outsider status, points clearly toward his mega-star future.