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To Willie

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To Willie album cover
Reasons to Quit
Too Sick to Pray
It's Not Supposed to Be That Way
Pick Up the Tempo
I Gotta Get Drunk
Can I Sleep in Your Arms
Heartaches of a Fool
Permanently Lonely
The Last Thing I Needed (First Thing This Morning)
The Party's Over
Album Information

Total Tracks: 11   Total Length: 38:36

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Wondering Sound

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Sam Adams


Sam Adams writes for the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Onion A.V. Club, Time Out New York, Time Out Chicago, Cowbell and the Philadelphia Ci...more »

Phosphorescent, To Willie
Label: Dead Oceans / SC Distribution

Covers albums are a dicey proposition, but Matthew Houck's album-length tribute to Willie Nelson is an affectionate and accomplished testimonial. Rather than skim the cream off the top, Houck has searched far and wide through Nelson's back catalogue, from the relatively polite singer-songwriter records of the 1960s to the languorous elder-statesmanship of the late 20th century.

That's not to say Houck, along with a rotating cast of like-minded musicians, doesn't bring his own aesthetic to the… read more »

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Willy can be proud


that an artist can pay such an awesome treatment to his material. Excellent collection of tracks.

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A solid tribute to Willie


I was fortunate to see Phosphorescent live and Mathew Houck gives a proper tribute to some of Willie's greatest songs. Key tracks..."Reasons to Quit" & "Heartaches of a Fool".

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Willie Really Has Sung for Years . . .


He sing-speaks now, so somebody should sing his songs.

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Willie Nelson Haunting Redux


Plaintive Willie songs given a Phosphorescent remake. They're deep, they're dark, they're lonely and haunting and beautiful. As the NY Times says "the songs are still recognizably Mr. Nelson’s, but slow and woozy, with meandering guitars and scratchy, diffident vocals. “To Willie” is more than a curatorial feat; Phosphorescent reaches down to the pain."

eMusic Features


A Field Report from the New Country

By Lenny Kaye, Contributor

Whither country music - or will it wither? Most of the c&w on strut at the recent CMA awards had more to do with 80's power-rock and 00's teen-pop than the morning farm report. In recent years, an alt-country movement in such Willy-billy suburbs as Brooklyn's Williamsburg has waved a country flag, along with a taste for trucker's caps and Pabst Blue Ribbon. This isn't a sudden outcropping on the range; ever since Gram Parsons… more »

They Say All Music Guide

Saying Phosphorescent’s tribute album to Willie Nelson is redolent of history is an understatement — besides the subject of the album itself, the title acts as a specific reference to Nelson’s own 1975 tribute to Lefty Frizzell, To Lefty from Willie. There’s a danger of well-meaning overkill and clinging associations at work as a result, which the album has to struggle through. Still, it’s also an interesting sign of just how much certain goal posts in the world of indie rock have changed over time — the fascination with older, more “real” country has been present since the days of X and the Blasters, to name two bands out of many, and Nelson’s own well-established outsider/outlaw image is a perfect one to hang one’s hat on. Mathew Houck aka Phosphorescent and a crew of backing musicians aim to do just that on To Willie and if by default it can’t fully capture the killer resonance of Nelson’s immediately recognizable vocals and twang, Houck’s singing is far more hushed in comparison, though to his credit he doesn’t specifically aim to sound like Nelson in terms of out-and-out mimicry — the whole is still a game enough effort, if nothing else showing Houck’s excellent taste in song choices. (A collection of the Nelson performances of each track would make one heck of a mix disc.) Kicking off with a double-tip of the hat — “Reasons to Quit,” written by Merle Haggard rather than by Nelson but a standard for both men — To Willie generally maintains a steady, softly woozy late-night singalong feeling throughout its length, with some performances giving Houck and his band a real chance to shine instrumentally. “Walkin’” features the most musicians on a track — seven total, with some lovely pedal steel work by Ricky Ray Jackson — while Hank Cochran’s “Can I Sleep in Your Arms” is a full one-man-band effort. Another winner is “It’s Not Supposed to Be That Way,” with Houck and Angel Deradoorian sharing vocals over music that uses a spartan yet lovely guitar/bass arrangement. – Ned Raggett

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