They say, and Hailey Whitters sings, that Nashville is a ten year town. The reference is usually made to describe the long apprenticeship undertaken by young artists as they set out to become country stars. It can also prove to be true of some country careers too. There is a thirst in all commercial music to discover and break the next big thing and nurturing something beyond a ten-year-career often proves to be beyond Music Row.
In fairness, country music is a genre which is more accommodating of older artists than many other branches of popular entertainment. There’s many a breakthrough artist I’ve encountered who are getting wider recognition for the first time when they are somewhere north of thirty years old. That, I would suggest, is refreshing. The difficult trick, for any artist, is building a career which will last. How does any singer or group ensure that their audience will stick around as long as they have? I may be biased here, but I think it’s got a lot to do with the songs.
This week we’re going to mark the beginning of one of the most successful country careers ever. That this artist is still alive, making music that matters when so many of his contemporaries have passed on is a tribute to his voice, his energy and his repertoire. And what a repertoire there has been for Willie Nelson. He’s been a soldier, a disc jockey, a song writer, singer, actor and a country outlaw and, in the sixty five years since he first released a record, he has proved to be one of the world’s most popular entertainers, whose appeal and fame goes well beyond the boundaries of country music. It took Willie five years to have a hit single and on this week’s AC we’re going to remind you of the moment the world first fell in love with Willie. We’ll also play you something from the new album he’s about to release at the grand old age of eighty nine. I suspect this is a sentence I will repeat, with a slight edit to the numbers, over the next few years.
Elsewhere we have some Grammy news and a significant anniversary for the man who first gave us the Blue Suede Shoes, the great Carl Perkins. A regular traveller with the Johnny Cash live entourage we’ll play you some early Carl as well as a great Johnny and Carl duet.
It’s also a week we’ll play you plenty of new, young acts too. Listen out for AC debutantes The Whitmore Sisters, Kaitlin Butts and John Craigie. It all starts at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland this Tuesday evening or on BBC Sounds at a time and a place of your own choosing.