Willie Nelson Milk Cow Blues (Island)
Reviewed by Christopher Gray, Fri., Sept. 29, 2000
Milk Cow Blues (Island)Meet the culture crusade's next target: Willie Nelson. After all, that titular Bob Wills standard sure ain't about a four-legged cow. Francine Reed churns up a fair froth in retorting "you're gonna need my help someday," so that one skates by on equal time. Then, on "Outskirts of Town," Nelson sings, "If we ever have any children, I want 'em all to look like me." Nobody ever said the blues was pretty, least of all Shotgun Willie. The old man just wants his milk and butter, and if he wants to sing a Billie Holiday song (with Jonny Lang!), it ain't nobody's business if he does. Who wouldn't prefer his duetting with B.B. King on "Night Life" to Eric Clapton? The way the Antone's blues band hits its collective mark every time, Nelson could sing the Sesame Street theme song and have kids searching for the nearest E-Z Bake Oven. The blues is sad music, and he's all too familiar with the heartbreak that makes it the blues. Therefore, it's no great surprise the best song, "Lonely Street," sounds scads more personal than the rockin' "Crazy" duet with Susan Tedeschi. That, "The Thrill Is Gone," and "Funny How Time Slips Away" are all hoots, but when the red-headed stranger takes you "where broken dreams and memories meet," you learn more about life than anyone seeking the land's highest office -- even Willie's man Ralph Nader -- will ever tell you.