Things to Remember--The Pamper Demos (Limited Red Vinyl Edition)
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For the series of sessions that laid the foundation for Willie Nelson’s career and thus changed the course of modern country music, these recordings have been treated pretty cavalierly over the years. But first, a little history…Willie Nelson was a struggling songwriter, hungry for work and maybe even just plain hungry, when he moved to Nashville in late 1960 with his wife and kids and met Hank Cochran, who was a writer for Pamper Music. Pamper, which was owned by country star Ray Price, fiddle player Hal Smith, and a baker (!) from Pico Rivera, California named Claude Caviness, was the hottest publishing company in town, thanks to writers like Cochran and Harlan Howard and songs like “Heartaches by the Number” and “I Fall to Pieces.” At first, Willie wasn’t going to sign with Pamper because Hal Smith wouldn’t give Willie the draw he needed, but Cochran told Smith to front Willie fifty bucks a week from his own draw. So Willie, determined to reward Cochran’s trust, got to work. “I was writing to prove I could write, ” he said. “To get the money and feel like I was earning it.” He would end most work days with a new song, and then he and Cochran would call a session with A-team musicians who didn’t have major label studio work that day. The result: a body of work that just may well represent the most fertile creative period ever to issue from a country songwriter. The songs Willie recorded for Pamper during the early ‘60s remain among his most famous, and include tunes he still performs to this day: “Crazy, ” “Funny (How Time Slips Away), ’ “Night Life, ” “Pretty Paper, ” “Half a Man, ” “Hello Walls, ” “Healing Hands of Time, ” and more. And these, the Pamper demos, are the first recordings of those legendary songs. In other words, this is what artists and label guys back in the day heard when Hal Smith or Hank Cochran handed over a little acetate, and said, “Hey, listen here to what our guy Willie Nelson just come up with.” It simply doesn’t get much more historic than that! But, for some reason, these demos have hitherto turned up in bits and pieces, mostly on budget packages with little documentation or care. Now, finally, these incredibly important recordings are getting the respect they deserve. Things to Remember—The Pamper Demos brings together these 28 performances for the first time (several of which have hitherto eluded compilation), all remastered by Mike Milchner at SonicVision to sound much better than they ever have, and annotated by Grammy-winning writer Colin Escott, with photos courtesy of Bear Family label founder Richard Weize. Available from Real Gone Music as a CD or a gatefold , red vinyl double-LP limited to 1000 copies, this collection is indispensable for any Willie Nelson fan or any lover of great country music…it’s the first blossoming of one of our greatest songwriters, presented the way work of this stature should be, with great sound and packaging.
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