Someone once told me they thought Willie Nelson’s voice sounded like an instrument.
That didn’t seem like a major breakthrough, as a voice is often considered an instrument. But upon closer listen to Nelson — and fellow country crooner Merle Haggard — I am beginning to see what my friend meant by the comment.
If you listen to these voices, there is a quality about them that brings to mind a guitar or some other instrument being played. This is entirely different from how Peter Frampton made his guitar “talk.”
It’s hard to describe with words. I recommend picking up a copy of Nelson or Haggard’s work — on vinyl, of course — and focus on their voices. I have recently acquired some of their albums and will talk about specific songs in future reviews.
They certainly have unique voices — and they know how to play them. Unfortunately Haggard died in April at age 79.
(Some other good voices and an unsolicited endorsement: If you are looking for a different take on the holiday classics, pick up a copy of a Straight No Chaser Christmas album. The a cappella group features great voices and a funny twist on some of the best holiday songs.)