Honeysuckle Rose


Warner Brothers Records, 1980

REVIEW BY: Tammy Childs


Willie Nelson as an actor -- okay, it's a stretch. But at least he got to do the soundtrack and that makes everything right with the world again. Starring Willie Nelson, Dyan Cannon and Amy Irving, the film Honeysuckle Rose, believe it or not, was my first real exposure to the voice of Nelson. Watching the movie I was forced to listen to his music; before that I had chosen to avoid it. Much to my surprise, at the end of it all, I decided that I actually liked Willie Nelson. His unique sound is truly his own; it just wouldn't fit anyone else.

Nelson mixes up the soundtrack by giving room to numbers by Johnny Gimble, Jody Payne, Hank Cochran, Emmylou Harris, and even Dyan Cannon, who surprised me with her singing.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Honeysuckle Rose tells the story of singer Buck Bonham. Not unlike Nelson, Bonham is a country singing star with a wild drinking side. "Pick Up The Tempo" aptly describes the theme of the movie. The movie progresses from close-family ties to breaking family ties as traveling on the road plays havoc on Bonham's personal life. This is where Amy Irving's character, Lily Ramsey, comes into the picture. With the face of an angel and the heart of a temptress, she lures him away with songs like, "You Show Me Yours (And I'll Show You Mine)." This is a hot, steamy song: "There ain't nothin' sweeter than naked emotion / You show me yours, hon, and I'll show you mine." Irving actually performs on this piece and with Nelson to carry her, the song is a perfect blend of her innocence and his roughneck edginess.

Pairing Nelson up with Dyan Cannon (who plays his wife, Liv Bonham), "Loving You Was Easier" is a silky duet. Cannon's soft vocals, although limited, are a pleasant backdrop for Nelson. "Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground" is a solo for Willie. I liked it the best of the album and the movie. How Nelson can be so pitifully ugly and still be sexy is a mystery to me. Another performer to join Willie is Emmylou Harris on "Angel Eyes." Perfect for the soundtrack, they belt out this sweet, endearing song in tandem.

Another of my favorites is again a Cannon/Nelson combo, "Uncloudy Day." This song is full of life and a touch of bluegrass. The guitar work is rambunctious and pure country.

This is the story of a man in love with his music, and a woman in love with her man. He loves her, she leaves him, and they shakily reunite. Willie Nelson was perfect for the part; it expended no real effort. His saving grace was the fact that when the acting got weak, he could always rely on a song. Being his true talent, the music on the soundtrack came as easy as a blink of the eye. Music, tequila and women, what more could a simple country man want?

Rating: B-

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© 2005 Tammy Childs and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.