Shotgun Willie is my favorite Willie Nelson album.
Granted, I haven’t listened to all 60+ of his studio recordings, not even close, but he probably hasn’t either 😉
His early recordings, like most of the Nashville Sound of the day, were overly formulaic with heavy strings and geared toward pleasing the establishment. The formula also meant they were producer dominated, and tightly controlled by the major publishing houses.
Shotgun Willie marked Nelson’s turn toward a more raw DIY ethos…
Outlaw Country is part Rhinestone Cowboy, part Hells Angels; part Marlboro, part marijuana; part Grand Ole Opry, part Yasgur’s farm.
Outlaw Country was where Nashville met Haight-Ashbury… Austin, Texas. “Hippie” music was flourishing in the city and the freedom he found there a rejuvenated Nelson. No longer anchored by the Nashville ball and chain, his music became more honest and down-to-earth. Shotgun Willie is where Willie starts sounding like Willie! At once laid back and complex… not quite country, not quite rock, not quite jazz, but a good blending of all three.
Five out of the 12 songs were written by other songwriters, Whiskey River, Stay All Night and Bubbles In My Beer among them. The standout for me is the last song on the record: Leon Russel’s A Song For You.