Willie Nelson’s Gave Us a History Lesson on American Music

The Chelsea, January 8

Willie Nelson | Photo by Josh Withers/Shutterstock

Willie Nelson | Photo by Josh Withers/Shutterstock

There are shows, and then there are master classes in in the history of American music. Willie Nelson gave Las Vegas the latter. The somewhere between 82- and 86-year-old (depending on who you ask, although Wikipedia has him on the low end of that) Nelson leisurely played his way through some of the most memorable songs of the last century. Starting with “Whiskey River,” Nelson led the audience on a journey that included most of his greatest hits, some Hank Williams tunes, and a gospel medley. His iconic voice found new melodic pathways, but he never missed a note.

At times, he employed spoken word to attend to the verse, and his solo guitar playing incorporated blues and jazz flourishes. His daughter joined him for the second half of the set, and he ended singing about America being open to all people in the song “Promised Land.” ★★★★★