by Willie Nelson, with love
When Tracy first moved to Nashville in the '70's, I was living there in Ridgetop. She had "borrowed" a couple of the musicians I was working with at the time. I kind of knew she was around but I hadn't run into her but I certainly loved her work with Mother Earth. It would only a matter of time before we'd get together.
We were both on Atlantic Records that has just started a Nashville operation at the time. Apparently Tracy and Bob Johnson, our producer in common, had decided to cut "There's Nothing Cold As Ashes After the Fire Is Gone" that was one of Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn's big duet hits. Tracy had done the track as a solo but then it was decided to try it as a duet.
She and Bob went out to my place and we talked about doing the song together and I thought it might be fun to give it a try. We cut it after that and Linda Ronstadt sang harmony on the track, too. The b-side was one of mine, "Whiskey River," re-cut as a duet. The record tuned out to be a pretty big success for us and we even got a Grammy nomination for it.
After the record broke, Tracy joined us for a number of festival dates that included Waylon and David Allen Coe. Needless to say, good times were had by all. I didn't give it much thought at the time but, because we're both named 'Nelson," people thought we were related. Some thought we were married, some thought we were brother and sister and a lot of DJs said we were a father and daughter act like The Kendalls. When we were on Ralph Emery's WSM show together we had fun with it and told him that we were both the illegitimate children of Ozzie and Harriet.
Over the years, Tracy and I have seen each other many times and I was so happy she was able to help out and perform at a few of our Farm Aid shows. This album is in the great jailhouse album tradition of Johnny Cash and B.B. King. There's something about prison audiences that brings out the best in performers and Tracy came though for the inmates here with flying colors. She really sang her heart out for them on this set, highlighting that tremendous voice that has only gotten better over the years.
Tracy's a real original and, over the years, has become something of a vocal icon.
I'm proud to know her, to have worked with her and to think of her as my sister/wife and/or daughter.
Austin, TX - May, 2003