Legacy Recordings will release "Heroes," an album of new songs and re-imagined classics on May 15.
The first title under the artist's deal with Legacy, "Heroes" is a collection of country songs (including covers from the '30s and '40s and new songs by Willie, his sons, Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson, and more).
Produced by Buddy Cannon, the backing band includes Kevin Grantt (bass), Bobby Terry (electric guitar, acoustic guitar), Jim Brown (piano, Wurlitzer, B-3 organ), Mike Johnson (steel guitar), Tony Creasman (drums), Mickey Raphael (harmonica) and Lukas Nelson (electric guitar).
Additional musicians on the record are Paul Shaffer (B3 organ), Butch Carr (synthesizer), Steve Brewster (drums) and producer Buddy Cannon (bass, acoustic guitar). Melonie Cannon, Buddy Cannon, Lance Miller and Kris Kristofferson contribute background vocals.
The album opens with Willie and Merle Haggard joining forces on a new rendition of Wayne Carson's "A Horse Called Music" (the title song from Willie's 1989 album) then tears into the rollicking "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die," one of the album's new Willie Nelson songs with special guests Snoop Dogg, Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson.
Other new Willie Nelson compositions making their debut on "Heroes" are "Hero," featuring Johnson and Billy Joe Shaver, and "Come On Back Jesus" (co-written with Buddy Cannon and Micah Nelson) featuring Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson.
The collection includes producer Buddy Cannon's new composition, "That's All There Is To This Song" and three tunes penned by Lukas Nelson--"No Place To Fly," "Every Time He Drinks He Thinks of Her," and "The Sound of Your Memory."
Lukas performs with his dad on several of the album's tracks including the Tom Waits/Kathleen Brennan composition, "Come On Up To The House," sung with Sheryl Crow.
Willie revisits the roots of classic country with three pre-rock gems: the 1930s ballad "My Window Faces The South," 1940s tunes "Home In San Antone" and "Cold War With You," with guest artist Ray Price.
An interpretation of Coldplay's "The Scientist," featured in an acclaimed animated short film produced by Chipotle to demonstrate the company's commitment to sustainably raised food, is also featured on "Heroes."
The album's focus track is Willie's sublime interpretation of Pearl Jam's "Just Breathe," performed with Lukas.
"Heroes" marks the first release in a historic new record deal between Willie Nelson and Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, announced in early February. The deal marks a label homecoming for Nelson, who, from 1975-1993, cut a phenomenal string of top-selling singles and albums for Columbia Records, beginning with 1975's seminal smash "Red Headed Stranger."
"I'm really happy to be back home with Sony Music. We have been partners for many years; all the way back to Pamper Music and Tree Music. We share a great history, and I'm looking forward to many more years together," said Willie Nelson.
Forthcoming Willie Nelson titles under the Legacy imprint will include newly recorded songs and performances as well as archival releases, personally curated by the artist, drawn from all phases of his career including his recordings for RCA Records and others.
As curator of his catalog, Willie will work with label archivists to select recordings, including previously released and previously unreleased tracks, for release in newly compiled collections and as bonus material on new editions of existing titles. The newly curated Willie Nelson titles will provide fresh perspective and context to the artist's influential and successful six-decade career.