August 19, 2001
Chastain Park Amphitheater-Atlanta, GA


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Willie Nelson is an icon. One day his likeness should be added to a musical version of Mt. Rushmore. This Sunday night performance didn’t differ much from any of his other shows over the last thirty years. A Texas flagged dropped to the opening strains of the first of three takes on “Whiskey River” as the red-headed stranger to no one led his “family” from beneath the brim of his bad guy black hat. During the course of the two and a half-hour forty-five song set, he covered everyone from Hank Williams to Kermit The Frog as well as hitting on all of his own classics. All done with Willie’s impossible to duplicate loose-yet-intricate style, he repossessed the tunes from the writers and added his jazzy Tex-Mex flavor to them. A trilogy of classic gospel tunes including “Uncloudy Day” and “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” took the faithful congregation into a glorious Sunday summer evening sing a long. After a more forward thinking “Still Is Still Moving To Me,” he reverted back to “Milk Cow Blues” and strapped on an electric guitar to dazzle the assembled with his Django Reinhardt influenced licks.

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“Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” was a favorite that elicited an extended standing ovation, but the truly sublime moment had to be a jubilant “I Saw The Light” that re-birthed the thousands of witnesses if only for the moment. The show wasn’t all classics, however. Willie pulled out a devastatingly sparse, dark new tune called “The Great Divide” that left jaws dropped by his haunting delivery. He promised the new song would be available in a few months. A little while later, he did a beautiful version of “The Rainbow Connection” that reminded the younger ones in attendance of the song’s performance by its original artist…Kermit The Frog! Who else could elevate what could be a bad backfiring joke to such a sublime moment of transcendence. After a rare performance of “The Party’s Over,” he took the band back to “Whiskey River” one final time. During the final vamping, he ran from side to side of the stage signing autographs, shaking hands and drinking shots offered up to him. Willie always connects. Seeing one Willie concert should be a part of obtaining American citizenship.

 (Chris McKay/concertshots.com)


Willie Nelson Set List (8-19-01):

1. Whiskey River

2. Stay A Little Longer

3. Good Hearted Woman

4. Funny How Time Slips Away

5. Crazy

6. Night Life

7. Down Yonder

8. Working Man Blues (sung by Jody Payne)

9. Help Me Make It Through The Night

10. Me And Bobby McGee

11. Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain

12. Blue Skies

13. Georgia On My Mind

14. All Of Me

15. Stardust

16. Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys

17. Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground

18. On The Road Again

19. Always On My Mind

20. Will The Circle Be Unbroken

21. Amazing Grace

22. Uncloudy Day

23. Seven Spanish Angels

24. City Of New Orleans

25. To All The Girls I've Loved Before

26. Luckenbach, Texas (The Basics Of Love)

27. Whiskey River (reprise)

28. Still Is Still Moving To Me

29. Milk Cow Blues

30. Pancho And Lefty

31. Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms

32. The Great Divide

33. My Bucket's Got A Hole In It

34. Jambalaya

35. Hey Good Looking

36. Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone

37. I Gotta Get Drunk

38. 'Til I Gain Control Again

39. Just Because

40. I Saw The Light

41. Move It On Over

42. Ol' Mountain Dew

43. Rainbow Connection

44. The Party's Over

45. Whiskey River (reprise 2)/Vamp