Everything We Know About Willie Nelson’s New Album, ‘Last Man Standing’
Country legend Willie Nelson continues to be a prolific songwriter and recording artist well into his later years, and here's proof: The singer announced in February that he has a new album scheduled for release in April.
Last Man Standing, like much of Nelson's recent work, deals with themes of mortality, aging and watching good friends die. The record's tracks remind listeners that Nelson is far from a one-trick pony; the music ranges from meditative to irreverent, often in the same song or even the same verse: "It's okay to say hello to me / But don't get too near if you don't want to fall / And don't think ill of me if my breath melts the wall / 'Cause bad breath is better than no breath at all," Nelson sings on Last Man Standing's third track, "Bad Breath."
One-liners and deep rumination co-exist peacefully in Last Man Standing's 11 songs, all of which were co-written with producer Buddy Cannon. Read on to learn more Nelson's upcoming album.
Last Man Standing takes its title from its first track, a tongue-in-cheek response to rumors surrounding the singer's health. Like 2017's God's Problem Child, the upcoming album faces weighty issues of mortality and loneliness with a humorous slant.
The Release Date
Last Man Standing is slotted for release on April 27, just two days before Nelson's 85th birthday. Birthday albums have recently become something of a theme for the country legend, who released God's Problem Child on April 28, 2017.
The Record Label
Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release Nelson's new album. Last Man Standing will be Nelson's eighth studio release with the label.
The Album Cover
The cover art for Last Man Standing portrays Nelson playing Trigger, his well-loved acoustic guitar. The black-and-white cover features Nelson's name above that image, and the album's title below it.
Buddy Cannon, who produced Last Man Standing, also happens to have co-written all 11 of its songs with Nelson. Cannon and Nelson have a long history of writing together in an unconventional way: They share text messages back and forth with snippets of lyrics that the other then builds upon and adds to. The first song they wrote together in this manner was "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die," which was released in 2012.
"Last Man Standing" kicks off the album with an uptempo, honky-tonk feel that belies its hefty subject matter. With lines such as "It's getting hard to watch my pals check out / It cuts like a wore-out knife / One thing I've learned about running the road / Is forever don't apply to life," it could easily be a sad song, but if you've been paying attention to song titles like "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" and "Still Not Dead," you know that Nelson doesn't wallow. It wouldn't even be fair to call the lyrics black humor, because while some of the jokes are dark -- "gray" humor, maybe -- the bottom line always returns to the joy Nelson finds in being alive.
At a recent listening party with Buddy Cannon at the Nashville studio where the album was recorded, members of the press viewed music videos for two additional songs, "Ready to Roar" and "Something You Get Through" -- sepia-toned depictions of Nelson and his band in the studio of the same vein as the clip for "Last Man Standing."
"Ready to Roar" brings "Route 66" vibes into play, and its message is tried and true: "Worked all week, my back is sore / It's Friday night, and I'm ready to roar." In contrast, "Something You Get Through" is one of the rare ballads on the album that squeaks by without even one little joke to lighten the mood. Cannon recalls that the song originated in a conversation Nelson once had with a woman who had just lost her husband.
"I don't know how I'm going to get other this," the woman said. "It's not something you get over," Nelson replied, "It's something you get through."
Willie Nelson, Last Man Standing Track Listing:
1. "Last Man Standing"
2. "Don't Tell Noah"
3. "Bad Breath"
4. "Me and You"
5. "Something You Get Through"
6. "Ready to Roar"
7. "Heaven is Closed"
8. "I Ain't Got Nothin'"
9. "She Made My Day"
10. "I'll Try to Do Better Next Time"
11. "Very Far to Crawl"
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