January 16, 2009 by esarsea
In 1978 Willie Nelson released one of my all-time favorite records, Stardust. A lot of other people liked it too. Consider the following:
- Billboard #1 Top Country Albums – 1978
- Billboard #30 Top Pop Albums – 1978
- Billboard #1 Country Single for Blue Skies – 1978
- Billboard #3 Country Single for All Of Me – 1978
- Grammy (Best Male Country Vocal Performance) – 1978
- #257 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” – 2003
- Over 10 years dominating the Country charts
- 117 weeks on the Top Pop Album charts
- Over 5x Platinum sales
Stardust was produced by Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. and the MG’s fame), who also produced Bill Wither’s 1971 gold record, Ain’t No Sunshine. Booker T. Jones has an impressive list of performance credits as well, having appeared on records by Albert King, Otis Redding, Mitch Ryder, Stephen Stills, Bob Dylan, Richie Havens, Santana, The O’Jays, Boz Scaggs, Neil Young, Wilson Pickett, Natalie Cole, John Lee Hooker, Rita Coolidge, Delaney & Bonnie, Soul Asylum and many, many others.
It’s interesting to note that while Stardust dominated the country charts and won a Grammy in the country category, it’s not a country record per se. Stardust is a collection of pop standards performed by a county artist, but they’re not really performed in a country fashion either. At first blush Stardust sounds almost like an “Easy Listening” record – but one soon learns that this record commands the listener’s attention. Passive listening, characteristic of the Easy Listening genre, is not an option. At least not for me. I am consistently drawn into it’s haunting, lonely, understated, and articulate presentation. It’s a timeless recording that effortlessly transcends genres and generations.
I am not a fan of country music, and truth to be told, I am not a big Willie Nelson guy either. It’s not that I dislike him or his music. I’m just not excited by it. This record however is different.
In 2008 Columbia/Legacy released a “30th Anniversary Edition” of Stardust, featuring 6 additional tracks that were not on the original recording. Having not heard this version, I am hesitant to recommend it. The original record is a perfect serving size. Like a rich dessert, a little Stardust goes a long ways.
If you never picked up a copy Stardust, I whole-heartedly recommend it!