Willie Nelson Shares Timeless Wisdom On ‘The Border’

Willie Nelson performs with his trusty guitar Trigger

At 91 years old, Willie Nelson has plenty of wisdom to extol using his sweet singing voice on his latest album, “The Border.”

Released Friday, May 31 on Legacy Recordings just a month after he celebrated his birthday on April 29, Nelson sounds as rebellious as ever on this collection of cover and original songs spanning 35 minutes and 16 seconds.

It marks the songwriter’s 152nd album and 75th solo release, milestones unsurprising with Nelson’s musical legacy.

Willie Nelson - The Border

The album opens with the title track, a cover of Rodney Crowell and Allen Shamblin. It describes the life of a border patrol agent as he works on the border: “And it’s working on me.”

With Nelson’s deep roots firmly planted in Texas country music, the album features additional covers by Larry Cordle and Erin Enderlin’s “I Wrote This Song For You,” Rodney Crowell and Will Jennings’ “Many a Long and Lonesome Highway,” “Made in Texas” by Shawn Camp and Monty Holmes and Mike Reid’s “Nobody Knows Me Like You.”

Nelson also co-wrote four new songs with Buddy Cannon compositions– “Once Upon a Yesterday,” “What If I’m Out of My Mind,” “Kiss Me When You’re Through” and “How Much Does It Cost,” as well as “Hank’s Guitar,” which was writen with Buddy Cannon and Bobby Tomberlin.

On “Once Upon a Yesterday,” he reminises about about performing with Kitty Wells, Roy Clark and Hank Williams and paints a beautiful picture – “We sang the songs, that fit our dreams, and then the dreams came true. Songs of pain and songs of love, all for me and you.”

He also sings about the timelessness of his nature – “Once upon a yesterday, tomorrow came and went away and I wrote another song today, Once upon a yesterday.”

The album features an outstanding cast supporting Nelson’s voice and acoustic guitar Trigger, which includes Mickey Raphael on harmonica, guitarists Bobby Terry and James Mitchell, keyboardist Jim “Moose” Brown, drummer Fred Eltringham, bassist Barry Bales with Cannon, and Melonie Cannon singing backup.

Nelson sounds like a lovesick youngster on “I Wrote This Song For You,” which is a love letter played on the radio by a touring songwriter. On the bridge, Nelson slips in some of that wisdom that comes from four marriages throughout his career:

“You never ask me once, to give up on my dream.
I know it’s a sacrafice to love someone like me.
I really don’t know how, you do it but you do.
That’s why I sat down, and I wrote this song for you.”

There are many sentimenal moments across the 10 tracks, including “Hank’s Guitar,” in which the subject dreams of being Hank Williams’ guitar traveling and performing across the world and being given to the Country Music Hall Of Fame.

Nelson sings proudly of his home state on the upbeat “Made In Texas, and shows his wry humor with the line, “You can always tell a man from Texas, but you can’t tell him much.”

On Reid’s “Nobody Knows Me Like You,” Nelson sings with regret and acceptance in the sweet yet sad ballad and he casually drops one of my favorite sayings on “How Much Does It Cost” – “There are three sides to every story; your side, my side and the truth.”

On “The Border” Nelson shows that he still has plenty of road left to travel. See Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Country Music Festival with Bob Dylan, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss and Celisse June 30 at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey, July 6 at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, New York and July 7 at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Don’t miss Willie’s 4th of July Picnic featuring Bob Dylan, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Maren Morris, Mavis Staples, and Celisse July 4 at the Freedom Mortgage Pavilion in Camden, New Jersey.

Get “The Border” from Wilie Nelson, Amazon, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, Deezer and qobuz.

Favorite Tracks

The Border
Once Upon A Yesterday
I Wrote This Song For You
Hank’s Guitar
Made In Texas
How Much Does It Cost