Asleep at the Wheel 50th anniversary album to feature George Strait, Willie Nelson, more
Last year, the 50th anniversary of Austin Western swing institution Asleep at the Wheel took place under the shadow of a pandemic that derailed planned festivities and left lead singer Ray Benson under the weather with a mild case of COVID-19.
A year later, the celebration continues with a new 19-song collection “Half A Hundred Years” that is stacked with country music greats. George Strait, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett and Lee Ann Womack all appear on the album, which is due out on Oct. 1.
The title track — which features Benson singing “Start the jam, roll one up, and ice another beer. I’ll tip my hat and raise a toast to half a hundred years” — was released Friday.
“I was trying to get across the sacrifices you have to make in 50 years on the road and the other positive side of it. The great experiences, the places I’ve been, and all the amazing people I’ve had the opportunity to meet and play music with,” Benson said about the song.
The album includes a cover of the Bob Wills' “Take Me Back To Tulsa,” a song first recorded by the band in 1972. This time around, Willie Nelson and George Strait join in the tribute to the Western swing pioneer.
“To me it doesn’t get more Texan than George, Willie, and Asleep at the Wheel doin’ a Bob Wills classic,” Benson said.
The album also features appearances by original Asleep at the Wheel members Chris O’Connell, Leroy Preston and Lucky Oceans, as well as KUTX DJ Elizabeth McQueen, who played with the band for almost a decade.
The band is currently on tour, but they'll be back in town to play their traditional role opening the Austin City Limits Music Festival on Oct. 1.
Here's the tracklist for the album:
Half A Hundred Years
It’s The Same Old South feat. Chris O’Connell
I Do What I Must feat. Leroy Preston
There You Go Again feat. Lyle Lovett
My Little Baby feat. Chris O’Connell
Paycheck To Paycheck feat. Leroy Preston
Word To The Wise feat. Bill Kirchen
That’s How I Remember It feat. Chris O’Connell
The Photo feat. Leroy Preston
I Love You Most Of All (When You’re Not Here) feat. Lucky Oceans
The Wheel Boogie
Take Me Back To Tulsa feat. George Strait and Willie Nelson
The Letter That Johnny Walker Read feat. Lee Ann Womack
Bump Bounce Boogie Feat. Chris O'Connell, Elizabeth McQueen, & Katie Shore
Miles And Miles Of Texas
Get Your Kicks On Route 66 Feat. Leroy Preston, Johnny Nicholas, & Ray Benson
Marie Feat. Willie Nelson
Spanish Two Step Feat. Johnny Gimble And Jesse Ashlock
The Road Will Hold Me Tonight Feat. Emmylou Harris And Willie Nelson