Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Willie Nelson and Sister Bobbie

  • December Day [Legacy, 2014] A

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

December Day [Legacy, 2014]
After the jaunty "Alexander's Ragtime Band," I was disappointed to note the tune density diminishing markedly here. Luckily, on my third and I thought final run-through, I noticed Willie emitting the bandless but far from unmusical or amelodic words "I don't know where I am today/I don't know where I was yesterday/This song has so many notes to play/I just hope that I hit them today." Thus begins the Senile Dementia Suite, which proceeds through Nelson's 2014 "Amnesia" and 1972 "Who'll Buy My Memories," pauses to dig up Al Jolson's "Anniversary Song," and then tops itself off with the inescapably tuneful 2014 "Laws of Nature": "I get my water from the rain/If it don't rain I'll die/Stormy weather saves my life/Sometimes I laugh and wonder why." There are seven songs after that, mostly remakes of self-written chestnuts he's no doubt remade before. Hell, there's another "Is the Better Part Over" on his 2013 album, although you can see how the concept fits better here, as does what is just barely or maybe not a different version of Django Reinhardt's signature "Nuages," which you'll understand when you learn that this is Willie's guitar album way more than it's Bobbie's piano album, which it also is, and yes, the rest of his band pitches in subtly when needed. My mother-in-law played Willie's Stardust on repeat in her last years. I won't be like that--I have more music in my kit. But as a senescence album this definitely tops L. Cohen's. A