Personnel: Willie Nelson (vocals, acoustic guitar); Emmylou Harris (vocals); Tony Mangurian (guitar, drums, percussion); Daniel Lanois (electric guitar, mandolin, omnichord, bass); Brian Griffiths (guitar, slide guitar, mandolin);
Bobbie Nelson (strings, piano, Wurlitzer piano, organ); Micky Raphael (harmonica, bass harmonica); Brad Mehldau (piano, Hammond Organ, vibraphone); Malcolm Burn (organ); Tony Hall (bass); Victor Indrizzo (drums, percussion); Willie Green (drums); Cyril Neville (congas).
All tracks have been digitally mastered using HDCD technology.
TEATRO was nominated for the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video.
After working his atmospheric magic on Bob Dylan (TIME OUT OF MIND) and Emmylou Harris (WRECKING BALL), producer Daniel Lanois takes on another American original: Willie Nelson. The result is an album that's at once timeless and up-to-the minute. Lanois brings Willie's instantly recognizable voice front and center, but underscores his acoustic guitar picking with complex percussion and drums, as well as organ and harmonica. The Lanois-written "The Maker" is the most fleshed-out instrumentally, and sounds like an outtake from Harris' WRECKING BALL. Harris herself appears on 11 of the 14 songs, handling the difficult task of singing harmony with Willie's distinctive around-the-beat style phrasing.
Half the songs were written by Willie in the sixties, when his career was on the rise but his personal life was in ruins. The material is almost uniformly despairing, with titles like "I've Just Destroyed The World" and "Darkness on the Face of the Earth." The newer songs, like "Everywhere I Go," have a Spanish lilt, perhaps reflecting the fact that the album was recorded in a converted California theater that once specialized in Mexican movies. While TEATRO may be case of teaching an old dog new tricks, Willie's certainly an apt pupil.
Rolling Stone (5/13/99, p.66) - Included in Rolling Stone's "Essential Recordings of the 90's."
Rolling Stone (9/17/98, p.96) - 3 Stars (out of 5) - "...most of TEATRO isjust Willie quietly breaking your heart with his easygoing intensity....in classic Big Willie style, he sounds as though he's reaching out for salvation with one hand and pressing the snooze button with the other."
Entertainment Weekly (9/4/98, p.83) - "...For the first time in years, Willie sings and plays as if something depended on it. His Texas-rooted sound has always had a south-of-the-border tinge, which Lanois accentuates with TEATRO's bubbling percussion. Half the tunes are Nelson chestnuts, but so radically redone that they're virtually new songs..." - Rating: B+
Uncut (p.145) - "Lanois' brilliant production reinvents songs...so completely it's like hearing them for the first time."