And Then I Wrote

Willie Nelson

Liberty, 1962

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Every artist has to start somewhere… and for Willie Nelson, that beginning was And Then I Wrote in 1962.

Having made a name for himself as a songwriter creating hits for other performers, Nelson finally got the chance to perform his own music with this release. So, don’t be surprised if, when you listen to some of these songs, you begin hearing other artists performing the numbers – because chances are good someone else did.

It would be hard-pressed to call this a great album, but one has to consider that country music, while a viable genre for some time, was still very much in its own developmental stage. In this regard, with the exception of using slightly more complex chord progressions, Nelson’s writing style didn’t exactly break new ground. And, while his voice has pretty much the same timbre that we’ve come to expect over the course of 60 years, Nelson was never necessarily the strongest singer out there – something this disc proves.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It has to be said that it seems strange to not hear artists like Faron Young or Patsy Cline performing “Hello Walls” or “Crazy,” respectfully, as their renditions have become the de facto standard for these songs that Nelson wrote – and that, in and of itself, is nothing to be ashamed of. It can’t, however, be said that Nelson necessarily adds anything with his renditions of these timeless tracks; they’re not unpleasant, but rather uninsipring.

In fact, “uninsipring” is a word that kept coming to mind throughout the 12 tracks on And Then I Wrote. I can’t say that songs like “Touch Me,” “Funny How Time Slips Away,” “One Step Beyond” and “The Part Where I Cry” are bad; if anything, they are products of their time. But, when listening to these songs, it’s honestly difficult to picture Nelson as the superstar in the world of country music he was to become; this is merely a songwriter in his late twenties getting a chance to sing his own tracks. It doesn’t exude the greatness that Nelson would earn in the decades to come.

The thing is, I want to like this disc. One wants to be able to listen to it, and hear the germination of greatness within the half hour’s worth of music. It’s just not there… but it’s also not a bad album in and of itself.

If someone wanted to hear where Nelson got his start, there could be some interest in And Then I Wrote. But, while it’s a pleasant enough way to whittle away 30 minutes, it’s not the greatest album in the country music genre. It’s not the greatest album in Nelson’s vast discography. That all said, if you’re into the history of country music and its artists, it’s worth a spin.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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