One By Willie

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628 reviews
This podcast has
31 episodes
Date created
Last published
Average duration
29 min.
Release period
18 days


In “One by Willie,” Texas Monthly’s John Spong hosts intimate conversations with a range of prominent guests about the Willie Nelson songs that mean the most to them. But this series isn’t just about the songs. It’s about what music really means to us—the ways it can change us, take care of us, and connect us all. Songs featured in the episodes can be found on Apple Music. Listen here.

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S3 E10: Buddy Cannon on "Something You Get Through"
This week, Willie’s longtime producer and songwriting partner Buddy Cannon talks about one of the most iconic Willie songs of recent vintage, 2017’s “Something You Get Through.” The song was a cornerstone of Willie’s so-called Mortality Trilogy—a series of albums that found him in Aging Wise Man mode and passing along some hard-learned life lessons. Buddy will describe the poignant moment on Willie’s bus that provided the song’s inspiration and the unique, distinctly 21st Century method they use to write and record together...and then get into his own evolution from hardcore Willie fan in the sixties to invaluable collaborator and friend through the 2000’s.
S3 E9: Ethan Hawke on "Too Sick To Pray"
This week, four-time Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke—who in addition to being an acclaimed actor, writer, and director happens also to be a hardcore Willie nerd—discusses “Too Sick to Pray,” a meditative hymn from Willie’s beautiful, pin-drop quiet 1996 album, Spirit. Ethan says the song and album were touchstones for him when he first became a father in the late 90s, before going on to describe the way Willie’s music connected him with his own dad as a kid, peppering his memories with digressions on Bob Dylan, Henri Matisse, Johnny Cash, Dead Poets Society...and earlobes. Oh and he also explains why he thinks a Willie Nelson biopic has to be set in the here and now.
S3 E8: Norah Jones on "Permanently Lonely"
This week, singer-songwriter Norah Jones—a nine-time Grammy-winner and go-to Willie duet partner—talks about “Permanently Lonely.” It’s one of those songs Willie has recorded repeatedly, but she focuses on his early-sixties demo, sitting at her piano to illustrate the jazzy intricacies of the song’s melody, and marveling at what she calls the beautifully harsh poetry in its lyrics. She’ll also describe the way she leaned on Willie’s music when she left Texas for New York City, the first time she ever sang with him, and the truly wonderful way she came to appear on our podcast. And a hint on that last thought: Like most great Willie stories, it’s all about family.
S3 E7: David Hood on "(How Will I Know) I'm Falling In Love Again"
This week, legendary Muscle Shoals bass player David Hood talks about recording Willie’s classic 1974 album Phases and Stages with his fellow Swampers, focusing on his favorite track on the record, “(How Will I Know) I’m Falling in Love Again.” Phases was, of course, named Willie’s finest album ever by Texas Monthly, and it prompts memories from Hood on the fabled R&B producer who brought the project to Muscle Shoals, Jerry Wexler; the mere two days they took to cut it; and the weird moment when Willie first walked into the studio.
S3 E6: Nathaniel Rateliff on "A Song For You"
This week, Americana singer-songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff talks about the cut that closes Willie’s 1973 album Shotgun Willie, “A Song for You.” It was arguably Willie’s first iconic cover song, written by one of his closest friends and most important collaborators, Tulsa legend Leon Russell, and it prompts Nathaniel to think aloud about the biker funeral where he first heard it; the crazy, early-70s days when Leon and Willie first hooked up...and the great lesson Nathaniel learned from Willie on creating a space—and a life—that brings friends together to make music.
S3 E5: Mickey Raphael on "The Words Don't Fit The Picture"
This week, Willie’s longtime harmonica player, Mickey Raphael, talks about a song Willie cut not long before leaving Nashville for good in 1972, the aptly titled “The Words Don’t Fit the Picture.” Mickey was just a sideman on the Dallas folkie scene when he first heard it, and it’s the song that made him want to play with Willie. He talks about that experience, plus what his fifty-plus years with Willie have been like, from joining the band to shows they played until dawn, mysterious stowaways who spent days on the bus, he and Willie’s onstage telepathy...and how their half-century of friendship changed his life.
S3 E4: Jimmy Webb on "Highwayman"
This week, one of America’s greatest living composers, Jimmy Webb, the writer of such classics as “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston,” “Macarthur Park,” and “Wichita Lineman,” talks about another of his iconic songs, “Highwayman.” Willie, of course, recorded it with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson in 1985, and it went on to win that year’s Grammy for best country song, as well as give country’s first supergroup their name. From there, Jimmy touches on reincarnation, the way Glen Campbell got the song to Willie, et al.—with a weird assist from the Knack and “My Sharona”—and a great idea for Willie’s next album.
S3 E3: Vince Gill on "Healing Hands Of Time"
This week, Vince Gill—a 21-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, guitarist, and honkytonk historian—talks about “Healing Hands of Time.” It’s a song Willie’s cut several times, but Vince focuses on the version from 1976’s The Sound in Your Mind, before getting into the power of an irresistible first line in a lyric, the seminal role in country music history played by Willie and his old friend Ray Price, and why writing a song that helps people through a hard time—like “Healing Hands” and Vince’s own “Go Rest High on that Mountain”—matters so much more than having a #1 hit.
S3 E2: Paula Nelson on "Devil In A Sleepin' Bag" (special Willie's Bday episode)
This week, we ring in Willie’s 89th birthday with his daughter Paula Nelson, who talks about “Devil in a Sleeping Bag,” off of his 1973 album Shotgun Willie. It’s a song Willie wrote about his longtime drummer and best friend, Paul English—who happens to be Paula’s namesake—and it gets her thinking about Paul’s dual role as Willie’s well-armed money-collector, a gunfight her dad was in, and hanging with Michael Jackson at the “We Are the World” recording session—before closing with some sweet memories of her dad’s older sister, pianist Bobbie Nelson.
S3 E1: Kacey Musgraves on "Are You Sure"
Singer-songwriter-superstar Kacey Musgraves goes deep into Willie’s back catalog to discuss “Are You Sure.” It was one of the first demos he cut when he moved to Nashville—though it’s probably best-known by the duet Kacey and Willie recorded for her Grammy-nominated 2015 album Pageant Material—and it prompts her to talk about what she calls “real-ass country songs,” the lucky joint Willie gave her, and singing “Rainbow Connection” with him at the 2019 CMA awards. Oh and she also does the best Owen Wilson impression you will hear all year.
Introducing Season 3
Season 3 launches on April 20th with Kacey Musgraves, Vince Gill, Nathaniel Rateliff, Jimmy Webb, and many others.
New From Texas Monthly: America’s Girls
The original Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders squad burst onto the field back in 1972—the same year Title IX passed, the same year Deep Throat came out, and a year before Roe v. Wade. Sarah Hepola digs into the untold stories behind the global pop culture phenomenon, from the stripper who allegedly inspired the squad’s creation, to a scandalous Playboy cover shoot that was partly a battle over fair wages, to the ongoing debate about sexuality and women’s bodies in a post-#MeToo world. The result is a vibrant mix of history, cultural criticism, and storytelling, featuring interviews with New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino, award-winning novelist Ben Fountain, Oscar-nominated director Dana Adam Shapiro, local television sports legend Dale Hansen, folk-writing hero Joe Nick Patoski, and a whole bunch of cheerleaders whose names you don’t know yet—but should.

Podcast Reviews

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4.5 out of 5
628 reviews
Marfaplain 2022/06/20
Cannot Get Enough
A real treasure. If you grew up in Texas and listened to Willie and thought you knew everything, you’re wrong. Go to school here and be prepared to b...
MsDawntreader 2022/06/12
Actually, words fail me here. These episodes, each of them, give perspective, insight, nuance, and speak to the heart, much as does Willie’s music its...
hamilton k 2022/06/04
An absolutely perfect podcast.
cmack 2022/06/02
Amazing Show
This is the show if you happen to love Willie, Texas, history, or just music in general. Great insight into the music industry, and awesome stories ab...
Webbjeri 2022/05/25
So great
A real highlight of the week. Thoughtful, lovely and amazing, just like Willie.
???????love it 2022/05/11
True and Authentic as They Come
This is the best kind of show for a true long time fan. Intelligent, sensitive and full of true love for Willie Nelson.
MicrophoneMixer 2022/04/30
Thoughtful and thought provoking, a master story teller brings unique insights into Nelson’s work
What a fantastic show! “One by Willie” brings together great songs, fascinating stories and the best artists in country and Americana. It sounds grea...
PMJ-TX 2022/04/27
Home Run
John knows his stuff when it comes to Austin. His love of the good times and bad especially od Willie and Family is unparalleled. Give him a listen o...
Les Lynn 2022/04/21
Host Is Superb
The host does a superb job in blending deep research on Willie Nelson's music and a light, amiable, witty touch with his guests. I can't imagine this ...
DaphneB99 2021/12/31
Fantastic Podcast about a musical hero
No better subject than Willie Nelson


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