Ken Talks About “Willie Nelson”

Willie Nelson is a song on the new album Shades of Life that you can order today!

Tell you about Willie Nelson? My song “Willie Nelson” isn’t really about Willie Nelson. It’s about two separate adventures from the east coast, to Portland Oregon. Michelle (my future wife) and I didn’t know each other then, but we moved out West at around the same time in the early 2000’s and both of our trips had a connection to Willie. Since this song has a special meaning around Michelle and I, I asked her to help me on vocal duties on this tune!

The night before I left on my adventure, I went to see Willie Nelson and the Dead with my brother. Of course, he played Whiskey River for the encore. Willie really got our journey off on the right foot, until we landed on the wrong one. You’ll have to listen to the song for the rest of the story.

On Michelle’s adventure, she kept seeing the same biker-dude on her route. She said that he had a kind face and reminded her of Willie Nelson. I always thought it was so cool that both of our stories were different, and at different times, but were both connected to Willie.

The idea to put different stories together came from the liner notes on a Paul Simon box-set that my roommate had when I was a freshman in college. Paul Simon wrote the first part of his song “The Late Great Johnny Ace” about John Lennon around two chords that he liked the sound of. Then later, he wrote the bridge about JFK, “the other late great Johnny Ace.” The idea always stuck with me, that a song doesn’t have to be about just one single thing, it can be wherever the music an poetry takes you.

In my song, there are some other homages to Willie. There’s a Willie-inspired guitar solo, and at the end there’s a big classic 70s-country-style key-change before the final verse.

After the key change, the final verse lists a bunch of Willie Nelson song titles. The idea for this came from a They Might Be Giants song about Alice Cooper, where they string together a bunch of his song titles to make a cool poetry. “Welcome to my nightmare dead babies r**ed and freezing….” and it goes on. I really enjoyed giving Willie’s song titles the same treatment!

Here’s the link to select a pre-order package:
kenchapple.com/SOL

Thanks,

Ken