Willie Nelson and Buddy Cannon Collaborate on Nelson’s Latest Release

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Having a profound effect on Willie Nelson’s music and career in the last decade, 69-year-old songwriter and producer Buddy Cannon has worked with Nelson since 2008 when they collaborated to develop the “Moment of Forever” album. Since then, Cannon has completed close to a dozen records with Nelson, including the latest release, “God’s Problem Child.”

Willie Nelson and Buddy Cannon: What Friendship Can Produce in Country Music

Photo: Facebook/Buddy Cannon

Topping the country music charts during its April release, Nelson and Cannon co-wrote seven of the 13 tracks on the album, and although Nelson’s legend in country music is based largely on leaving Nashville for Austin to champion the ‘outlaw’ country music phenomenon, he’s continued to maintain relationships in the Music City including that of Cannon. Nelson and Cannon first met in the 70s when Cannon was working for Mel Tillis’s publishing company. The pair never really got well acquainted until Kenny Chesney asked Nelson to do a duet on “That Lucky Old Sun.” Nelson was so fond of the end result that he asked Cannon to do an album with him immediately.

Willie Nelson and Buddy Cannon: What Friendship Can Produce in Country Music

Photo: Facebook/Buddy Cannon

Describing their collaboration as the start of a productive working relationship, Cannon gave an interview to the Austin American-Statesman, noting his partnership with Nelson was truly cemented with the 2014 “Band of Brothers” project. Together, the pair co-wrote nine songs and was Nelson’s first album since 1996 to highlight primarily original material. According to Nelson, it’s a writing relationship that works well, saying, “We’ll have periods where we’ll write more. I’ll come up with an idea, or he will, and we’ll send it back and forth. And then he’ll cut a track on it with a scratch vocal of him with a guitar. We have kind of a formula worked out that seems to be working.”

Willie Nelson and Buddy Cannon: What Friendship Can Produce in Country Music

Photo: Facebook/Willie Nelson

Their collaborations have taken them through 2015’s “Django and Jimmie,” as well as a tribute to George and Ira Gershwin which was produced by Cannon and won Nelson a Grammy. This brought them to “God’s Problem Child,” which saw their partnership develop into not only co-writing alliance but also the opportunity to mine additional talent through Cannon like in the song “Butterfly,” co-written by Sonny Throckmorton and Mark Sherrill. Even Cannon’s own mother, 93-year-old Lyndel Rhodes got in on the act penning “Little House on the Hill.”

With respect to Ms. Rhodes’ reaction, Cannon told the Statesman, “She doesn’t quite realize what it means to have a Willie Nelson cut, you know. I’ve tried to tell her that if every songwriter in Nashville only got one song recorded and it was a Willie Nelson cut, they would feel like every dream they ever had came true.” This, as well as 12 other country hits, can be found on “God’s Problem Child,” featuring Cannon’s talents together with the master himself. Many of the new songs were expected to be performed during Nelson’s popular 4th of July Picnic which took place right here in the Texas Hill Country. Grab yourself a copy of the latest Nelson and Cannon collaboration, and see for yourself what a great friendship can produce.


Austin American-Statesman

Willie Nelson Website

Texas Hill Country