Tracy Nelson

Mother Earth Presents Tracy Nelson Country

  • Reprise Archives

This long-lost country weekend convinces you that Nelson always thought like Patsy even if she was singing rhythm and blues and earning comparisons to San Francisco cohort, Janis Joplin. Her full-throated treatment of these standards pits a hearty Midwesterner's resolve against a sea of troubles. For Nelson, the certainties of songs like “I Can't Go on Loving You” are sometimes more vexing than the doubts. In historical terms, this title sits alongside Bob Dylan's Nashville Skyline and the Flying Burrito Brothers's Guilded Palace of Sin as the counterculture's invasion of redneck country from the inside. It took a lot of cynical sincerity to sing “Stand By Your Man” as anything but sarcasm in 1969. It rings forth like what it was — a happy accident. After completing Mother Earth's second album, Make a Joyful Noise, producer/steel-guitarist “Sneak” Pete Drake convinced Nelson to stay on for some session work in Nashville. Drake supervised, along with Presley's original guitarist Scotty Moore. Some of these songs she sang with Mother Earth (“I Fall to Pieces” and “I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry”), but the originals (“Sad Situation” and “Stay As Sweet As You Are”) would make bigger stars proud. And three bonus reissue tracks include Hank Williams's “You Win Again” torn to pieces.

— Tim Riley