Fire one up and pop a top: This is vintage Willie. Nelson is not only one of the best songwriters Nashville has ever seen, but with his behind-the-beat phrasing and jazzy guitar licks, he is also a br

Fire one up and pop a top: This is vintage Willie. Nelson is not only one of the best songwriters Nashville has ever seen, but with his behind-the-beat phrasing and jazzy guitar licks, he is also a brilliant interpreter of others' material. Nothing could demonstrate his greatness better than this collection of classics spanning 40 years. From the Patsy Cline hit "Crazy" (heard here as a 1961 demo) and the oddly affecting "Good Times" to more recent fare like "Mendocino County Line" and the heartbreaking "She's Gone," this is powerful stuff. "Yesterday's Wine" is quite simply one of the greatest country songs ever written. One could also argue that case for such gold nuggets as the wistful "It's Not Supposed to Be That Way," the world-weary "Ain't It Funny How Time Slips Away" or the subtle genius of "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain." A live "Good Hearted Woman" (with Waylon Jennings) would liven any party, and "Always on My Mind" has helped many a man get out of trouble. Other classics include "Pancho and Lefty" and "On the Road Again."—RW