recess radio program

11/04/05
Willie Nelson's Rainbow Connection
    by John Cech

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That's the incomparable Willie Nelson, on the opening track for his new CD of music for children and families, The Rainbow Connection, with one of the most memorable instrumental solos in recent children's music history. It's Mr. Nelson's first foray into recording for children, and, fittingly, he was urged to do it by his daughter Amy, who adds her voice and lyrics to a number of songs on the recording. There are traditional folksongs like "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover" and "Ol' Blue" which Mr. Nelson tells us in his liner notes, "was a song first played to me by my Grandmother when I was about 4 years old. I would sit on the organ bench along side her and every time she played it I would cry. I made her play it everyday." Father and daughter harmonize on one of the best versions of "Playmate" that you'll ever hear.

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Later, the recording takes a fork in the road, with the tune "Playing Dominoes and Shooting Dice" which Mr. Nelson explains with aplomb, "is moving us away from the children's CD, taking us into the adult world of drinking, gambling, and carousing by consenting adults. The moral of the song is just that if you do dumb things you can die. Not a bad thing for even the young people to know." And when you think about it, when you think about how all sorts of songs with all sorts of morals, used to be played around a stove or a fireplace with generations of people, listening or figeting or dozing or joining in, you see that this CD, which Mr. Nelson calls "the journey of a lifetime," is not a bad way at all to spend an evening with your loved ones -- kids and parents and friends and grandparents. Here's daughter Amy with Willie on Trigger to take us out.

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Copyright 2005 John Cech

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"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."