Songbird is an album by Willie Nelson released by Lost Highway Records on October 31, 2006. It was produced by contemporary country rock musician Ryan Adams. Adams, along with his band The Cardinals, performed on the album’s eleven tracks. It peaked at #87 on the Billboard 200 on November 18, 2006.
Only two brand new compositions, Nelson’s “Back to Earth” and Adams’ “Blue Hotel,” appear onSongbird. “Rainy Day Blues,” "We Don’t Run,” and "Sad Songs and Waltzes" are original Nelson tunes, but they were released on earlier records.
Most of the songs from the album are cover tunes with new interpretations. The credit for covering these songs goes to Adams, who "...felt confident with all the selections." In the same interview, Nelson points out that he was tentative about recording songs that had already been recorded as good as these were. He summed up the album by stating, 'It'll always be the Ryan Adams project, as far as I'm concerned.'
|1||Rainy Day Blues (written by Willie Nelson)||5:32|
|2||Songbird (written by Christine McVie)||2:40|
|3||Blue Hotel (written by Ryan Adams)||3:30|
|4||Back To Earth (written by Willie Nelson)||2:59|
|5||Stella Blue (written by Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter)||6:23|
|6||Hallelujah (by Leonard Cohen) (written by Leonard Cohen)||4:53|
|7||$1000 Wedding (written by Gram Parsons)||3:05|
|8||We Don't Run (written by Willie Nelson)||4:19|
|9||Yours Love (written by Harlan Howard)||3:03|
|10||Sad Songs And Waltzes (written by Willie Nelson)||3:17|
|11||Amazing Grace (written by Trad.)||4:49|
|Title||Times played||Debut||Last played|
|Rainy Day Blues||Never played live|
|Songbird||Never played live|
|Back To Earth||Never played live|
|Hallelujah (by Leonard Cohen)||Never played live|
|$1000 Wedding||Never played live|
|We Don't Run||Never played live|
|Yours Love||Never played live|
|Sad Songs And Waltzes||Never played live|
|Amazing Grace||Never played live|
- Bass Guitar – Catherine Popper
- Drums – Brad Pemberton
- Engineer – Eddie Jackson, Gus Oberg, Jamie Candiloro, Jim Keller, Peter Doris, Tom Gloady
- Harmonica – Mickey Raphael
- Mastered By – Fred Kevorkian
- Mixed By – Jamie Candiloro
- Organ [Hammond B-3] – Glenn Patscha
- Piano, Guitar – Neal Casal
- Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar – Ryan Adams
- Steel Guitar [Pedal] – Jon Graboff
Willie Nelson on the album in American Songwriter:
It was Luke Lewis from Lost Highway Records that suggested we get together and do something, and I respect Luke a lot. I wasn’t that familiar with Ryan, to be honest with you. I saw him a time or two, but I figured that he was coming from one [musical] place, I was coming from another, and we could kind of meet in the middle and work it out-and it really seemed like we did. His sound was, as everybody knows, a little different from what mine is, but we managed to come together well.
Well, we’re both kind of out there [laughs], so we kind of met on a different altitude somewhere. I love him to death. I think he’s a great artist. Naturally, he’s a little weird; we all gotta be a little weird to be in this kind of business anyway, but his weirdness is associated with a lot of ingenious things that he’s doing.
All the way back to the ‘50s, when I was living in Houston…and the first time I recorded “Night Life.” I’ve always liked the song. I sing it occasionally, and the audience likes it. It’s a good blues song, and we like to include a couple of blues songs at least on our show. I do “Milk Cow Blues;” that’s another old standard that I just love to do, and “Rainy Day Blues” kind of falls in there.
“Songbird,” the disc’s first single, is one of its most beautiful moments.
Thank you. I really love the arrangement on it. Fleetwood Mac had a great record on that. I didn’t know how my version of it would sound, but Ryan’s band, The Cardinals, are really good. These guys could play anything. We were doing [Harlan Howard’s] “Yours Love,” and I don’t think the steel player had heard it before, so I said, “Well, just play, ‘Waltz Across Texas’…it’ll work fine [laughs].” So when you hear that song, if you hear “Waltz Across Texas,” that’s how I got there.
Regarding his role of producer for the album, Ryan Adams states that he: