Country legend Willie Nelson took time off of recording his next full-length project to begin and complete work on a new EP, a five-song collection called Rhythm & Willie conceived, written, and recorded in the span of 26 minutes.
“We’d been tracking for a couple hours, so I suggested we take a half hour break to achieve a more harmonious state. By the time everyone filtered back into the studio, Willie had this whole other thing going,” said producer T Bone Burnett. “I guess he talked the sound engineer into helping him write and lay down a few R&B type songs. They don’t fit with the Western theme we were working on, so the label is putting them out as their own project. Between these albums and the new reggae one he finished up last month, there’s a lot of new Willie Nelson music for people to look forward to.”
After decades on the road and in the studio with Nelson, harmonica player Mickey Raphael is no longer surprised by his boss and friend’s work habits. “This is just the way Willie operates. It reminds me of the time he went out for a smoke and came back with the entire Spirit album, which a lot of people thought was brilliant. Apparently he recorded that whole thing while searching the cupboards on the bus for a pasta strainer.”
The singer is joined on the EP by Jim Lauderdale, who managed to make himself available during Nelson’s unannounced recording session despite continuing work on Patchouli Creek, his sixth release of 2010.