Home Read Classic Album Review: Willie Nelson | The Great Divide

Classic Album Review: Willie Nelson | The Great Divide

The icon's overproduced album pairs him a la Santana with a half-dozen hitmakers.

This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Poor Willie Nelson. These days, it seems, being a great American songwriter, founding father of country and living legend isn’t good enough: You gotta be commercial too.

So, in what seems like a blatant bid to pitch Willie to the VH1 masses, his overproduced new album The Great Divide pairs him up a la Santana with a half-dozen hitmakers like Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt and (why, Lord, why?) Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas. Unsurprisingly, the results are, well, divided between the half-decent (Last Stand in Open Country, featuring Kid Rock, is a crunchy southern rock power ballad; Be There For You, the Crow tune, is atmospheric, slightly futuristic Tex-Mex) and the indecent (did I mention Rob Thomas?). Equally unsurprising: The best tracks hands-down are the ones Nelson does himself — grand weepers Recollection Phoenix, You Won’t Catch Me Cryin’ and The Great Divide, and a spaghetti-western version of Kenny RogersJust Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In). In other words, the tracks when Willie just gets to be Willie. That’s good enough for me.