Willie Nelson Part Five
It’s Willie Nelson Part Five, and let’s get into it, so you can hear my new album from iTunes.
IRS and later career (1990–present)
In 1990, the IRS seized most of Nelson’s assets, claiming that he owed $32 million. In addition to the unpaid taxes, Nelson’s situation was worsened by the weak investments he had made during the early 1980s. In 1978, after he fired Reshen, Nelson was introduced by Dallas lawyer Terry Bray to the accounting firm Price Waterhouse. To repay the debt Reshen had created with the IRS, Nelson was recommended to invest in tax shelters that ultimately flopped. While the IRS disallowed his deductions for 1980, 1981 and 1982 (at a time that Nelson’s income multiplied), due to penalties and interests, the debt increased by the end of the decade.
His lawyer, Jay Goldberg, negotiated the sum to be lowered to $16 million. Later, Nelson’s attorney renegotiated a settlement with the IRS in which he paid $6 million, although Nelson did not comply with the agreement. Nelson released The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories? as a double album, with all profits destined for the IRS. Many of his assets were auctioned and purchased by friends, who donated or rented his possessions to him for a nominal fee. He sued Price Waterhouse, contending that they put his money in illegal tax shelters. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount and Nelson cleared his debts by 1993.
During the 1990s and 2000s, Nelson toured continuously, recording several albums including 1998’s critically acclaimed Teatro, and performed and recorded with other acts including Phish, Johnny Cash, and Toby Keith. His duet with Keith, “Beer for My Horses”, was released as a single and topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts for six consecutive weeks in 2003, while the accompanying video won an award for “Best Video” at the 2004 Academy of Country Music Awards. A USA Network television special celebrated Nelson’s 70th birthday, and Nelson released The Essential Willie Nelson as part of the celebration. Nelson also appeared on Ringo Starr’s 2003 album, Ringo Rama, as a guest vocal on “Write One for Me”.
Nelson was featured on the album True Love by Toots and the Maytals, which won the Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Reggae Album, and showcased many notable musicians including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Trey Anastasio, Gwen Stefani/No Doubt, Ben Harper, Bonnie Raitt, Manu Chao, the Roots, Ryan Adams, Keith Richards, Toots Hibbert, Paul Douglas, Jackie Jackson, Ken Boothe, and The Skatalites. In the following year of 2005, Nelson released a reggae album entitled Countryman which featured Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals on the song “I’m a Worried Man”.
Nelson headlined the 2005 Tsunami Relief Austin to Asia concert to benefit the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, which raised an estimated $75 thousand for UNICEF. Also in 2005, a live performance of the Johnny Cash song “Busted” with Ray Charles was released on Charles’ duets album Genius & Friends. Nelson’s 2007 performance with jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis at the Lincoln Center, was released as the live album Two Men with the Blues in 2008; reaching number one in Billboard’s Top Jazz Albums and number twenty on the Billboard 200. The same year, Nelson recorded his first album with Buddy Cannon as the producer, Moment of Forever. Cannon acquainted Nelson earlier, during the production of his collaboration with Kenny Chesney on the duet “That Lucky Old Sun”, for Chesney’s album of the same name. In 2009 Nelson and Marsalis joined with Norah Jones in a tribute concert to Ray Charles, which resulted in the Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles album, released in 2011.
In 2010, Nelson released Country Music, a compilation of standards produced by T-Bone Burnett. The album peaked number four in Billboard’s Top Country Albums, and twenty on the Billboard 200. It was nominated for Best Americana Album at the 2011 Grammy Awards. In 2011 Nelson participated in the concert Kokua For Japan, a fund raising event for the victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan which raised $1.6 million.
In February 2012, Legacy Recordings signed a deal with Nelson that included the release of new material, as well as past releases that would be selected and complemented with outtakes and other material selected by him. With the new deal, Buddy Cannon returned to produce the recordings of Nelson. After selecting the material and the sound of the tunes with the singer, Cannon’s work method consisted in the recording of the tracks with studio musicians, with the takes later completed on a separate session by Nelson with his guitar. Cannon’s association to Nelson also extended to songwriting, with singer and producer composing the lyrics by exchanging text messages.
Nelson’s first release for the Legacy Recordings was Heroes, that included guest appearances by his sons Lukas and Micah of the band Insects vs Robots, Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Billy Joe Shaver and Sheryl Crow. The album reached number four on Billboard’s Top Country Albums. His 2013 release To All the Girls…, a collection of duets with all female partners, featured among others Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Rosanne Cash, Sheryl Crow, Mavis Staples, Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert. The album entered Billboard’s Top Country Albums at number two, marking his highest position on the chart since the release of his 1989 A Horse Called Music, and extending his record to a total of forty-six top ten albums on the country charts. Nelson scored as well his second top ten album on the Billboard 200, with the release entering at number nine.
His following release was Band of Brothers, in 2014, the first Nelson album to feature the most newly self-penned songs since 1996’s Spirit. Upon its release, it topped Billboard’s Top Country albums chart, the first time since 1986’s The Promiseland, the last Nelson album to top it. The release reached number five on the Billboard 200, Nelson’s highest position on the chart since 1982’s Always on My Mind. In December 2014, a duet with Rhonda Vincent, “Only Me”, topped Bluegrass Unlimited’s National Airplay chart. In June 2015, his collaboration with Haggard Django and Jimmie topped Billboard’s Top Country albums chart and reached number seven on the Billboard 200.
In 2017 Nelson released God’s Problem Child. The release, consisting mostly of Nelson originals co-written with Cannon, entered the Top country albums at number one, while it reached number ten on the Billboard 200.