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Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash

Two masters together at last

Superstars of American music, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash make country music for everyone, even people who don’t like country. You would never catch me listening to awful modern country, but these two artists are some of my all time favorites.

Members of the “outlaw” movement, Willie and Johnny wrote songs that transcend styles and genres. Who can say they don’t like such classics as “Folsom Prison Blues” or “On the Road Again?”

For many years Nelson and Cash were part of the Highwaymen, a country music super group that also included Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson, great musicians in their own right. However, there always seemed to be too many voices in the highwaymen. The duets done by individual members were always much better, like Waylon and Willie on “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Cowboys.”

If you want a stripped down, intimate set by these two masters, then check out VH1 Storytellers with Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Their strong, distinctive voices come through as almost delicate, accompanied by the meat-and-potatoes chords of Johnny Cash and the skillful, jazz-like lead lines of Willie Nelson.

The album, released in 1998, begins with “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky,” and continues through a showcase of some of the best original songs penned by the two masters. Some of my favorites include “Family Bible” and “Drive On.”

Being a VH1 Storytellers production, the set includes stories between each song, but what really stands out are the timeless songs and the immense quality of the singing and musicianship. If you have any interest in either of these artists, then you will absolutely love this CD.