AUSTIN, Texas — When singer, songwriter and SiriusXM radio host Paula Nelson mentioned to her friend Bruce Robison that she wanted to record some of her dad’s songs, he invited her — and her dad, Willie — to the Bunker, his all-analog recording studio in Lockhart, Texas, where he wound up producing a pair of father-daughter duets. Robison’s label, The Next Waltz, will release the first one, “Slow Down Old World,” on Feb. 24. The second, “Pretend I Never Happened,” will be released on March 17.
“These are two of my favorite songs written by my dad,” says the younger Nelson, whose show airs, naturally, on SiriusXM’s Willie’s Roadhouse channel. “And recording them with Bruce was the best decision I have ever made. I’ve never been more comfortable in a studio session; he’s so kind and patient and brilliant. I believe that shines through these recordings. Both the songs and the musicians are magical.”
Robison started with the same house band he’d gathered for an 89th-birthday tribute to Willie, held at the country star’s Luck Ranch in May. “Then we decided to do a big string section on ‘Slow Down Old World,’ and the project took on a bigger life,” he says. “Then we added (harmonica player) Mickey Raphael. Every time we dreamed up something, we were able to make it happen. That’s the magic of great songs.”
The waltz-time “Slow Down Old World” first appeared on Shotgun Willie, released in 1973. Nelson released “Pretend I Never Happened” on 1974’s Phases and Stages, but Waylon Jennings released it first — as a single in 1972, then on his 1973 album, Lonesome, On’ry and Mean. “I’ve always wanted to record them,” Paula explains. “This was hands down my all-time favorite musical experience, on every level.”
Adds Robison, “Willie is our greatest living artist and he's about to turn 90. Every living human being should be celebrating him.” About The Next Waltz: Launched in 2016 by singer, songwriter and producer Bruce Robison, The Next Waltz is a label, a recording studio, a musical community, a management company and a mindset — one shared by those who appreciate artistic integrity and value ambitious and authentic music. At the Bunker, his all-analog studio in Lockhart, Texas, Robison gathers revered veterans and talented newcomers to tell stories, make music “with no digital shenanigans” and weave the occasional dream or scheme; so far, The Next Waltz has released over 20 singles and four compilations (featuring Turnpike Troubadours, Carrie Rodriguez, Carson McHone, Jerry Jeff Walker, Charley Crockett, Shakey Graves, David Ramirez, Vandoliers, Brennen Leigh and many others) and albums by Robison, Kelly Willis, the Panhandlers and Tony Kamel.