By Todd Leopold, CNN
(CNN) — Does the singer come first? Or the songwriter?
Let’s start with the songs: “Crazy.” “Hello Walls.” “Funny How Time Slips Away.” “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.” “On the Road Again.”
Just the catalogue alone would qualify him for any number of musical halls of fame — and, indeed, Willie Nelson is in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Kennedy Center Honors. He has a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Country Music Association, the first it ever presented. They decided to name it for him.
Then there’s the voice, that baritone as smooth as fine whiskey, capable of jaunty sing-alongs, angry despair, pensive melancholy. Amazingly, his delivery was once considered too unusual for Nashville, with a start-stop phrasing that skipped around the beat. Now it’s as welcome as his other voice, the well-worn Martin…
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