Willie Nelson's Record Label Didn't Want Him to Record Stardust
"These old songs, nobody wants to hear 'em anymore," record execs told Nelson.
Can you imagine Willie Nelson's ever-growing body of work without Stardust? The 1978 chart-topping album of pop covers won a Grammy Award for Nelson's take on "Georgia on My Mind" and is a record we return to time and time again for comfort, joy, and fun. Especially now during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it's like queso and cornbread for our Southern souls.
Well, as it turns out, his record label at the time, Columbia Records, wasn't exactly chomping at the bits for this album — which runs the gamut from "Moonlight in Vermont" to "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" — to come to fruition. From their perspective, having an outlaw country artist tackle classic ballads from some of America's finest composers didn't exactly seem like a home run. In fact, it seemed like a long shot for a success, and perhaps even more likely do more harm for his reputation as a respected singer than anything else.
"This is not a good idea," Nelson recalls record label execs saying, per a Radio.com interview, as reported by Wide Open Country. "It costs too much money first of all, and these old songs, nobody wants to hear 'em anymore," they told Nelson. "Again, they were wrong," Nelson reflected of the record label's misjudgment. Thankfully, Nelson didn't let his record label dissuade him and he enlisted the help of his Malibu, California, neighbor and musician friend Booker T. Jones, of Booker T. & the M.G.'s band, as producer. They recorded the entire album in only 10 days.
How about that perseverance? Next time one of our great ideas is met with resistance, we think we'll pull a Willie and march forward. After all, if we don't, we might rob the world of our own version of Stardust.