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February 26

“Funny How Time Slips Away”: The Writer and the Singer

“Funny How Time Slips Away” is a song that Willie Nelson wrote. The first to make a cover of it was country singer Billy Walker. Walker’s version landed on the 23rd spot of the Hot C&W Sides chart. To compare, its tune is very similar to “When Two Worlds Collide” (a song Roger penned).

The Writer: Willie Nelson

Myrle Marie Nelson gave birth to Willie Nelson during the Great Depression. As he was growing up, his grandparents took care of him. At the age of seven, Nelson wrote his first song. Three years after, he became a member of a band—his first band. During high school, he toured locally with the Bohemian Polka—the band’s lead singer and guitar player. After finishing high school in 1950, he joined the Air Force. Unluckily, he did not serve long due to back problems. After his discharge, Willie attended Baylor University for two years. However, he dropped out because he was doing very well in his music career. For this period, he worked as a disc jockey in Texas radio stations. Apart from that, he was also a singer in honky-tonks.

In 1956, Willie Nelson moved to Vancouver, Washington. Here he wrote “Family Bible” and recorded the song “Lumberjack”. After two years, he moved to Houston, Texas after signing a contract with D Records. He became a regular at the Esquire Ballroom weekly, and he continued his broadcasting job. During this course, he wrote songs that became country standards. These are: “Funny How Time Slips Away”, “Hello Walls”, “Pretty Paper”, and “Crazy”.

The Singer: Billy Walker

William Marvin Walker “Billy Walker” tried rock n’ roll for a short time. However, before moving to Nashville, Tennessee in 1959, Billy Walker played the Texas bar circuit. A year later, he joined the Grand Ole Opry. Among all the artists who recorded a Willie Nelson song, he was one of the firsts. His version of “Funny How Time Slips Away” only reached spot number 23 on Billboard’s country singles chart in 1961. Despite that fact, the track helped establish Walker’s national reputation. In 1962, Billy got lucky. He topped the chart with “Charlie’s Shoes”—the only chart-topper of his career in music. What made him famous was his smooth tenor that suited to other Western-inspired hits including “Matamoros” and “Cross the Brazos at Waco” well.


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