Paul English on the Making of ‘Stardust’ (1981)


SKFNOTE: In 1981, Willie Nelson‘s drummer and friend, Paul English, interviewed with me by phone. Here’s what Mr. English had to say about the making of Nelson’s classic Stardust album.

Paul English: We done Stardust in three days. We’ve never taken over three days to do an album.

Scott K Fish: Never?

PE: Never. We don’t know what we’re gonna do when we go in there.

Alright, when we done Stardust, Willie had eighty songs. And we got the music and everything, but…. We got the lead sheets ’cause [Willie] didn’t want to do them wrong. This is the type of a song you’re supposed to revere. That’s what we thought. Well, that’s our thinking still.

And we weren’t trying to jazz them up or anything like that. No. They were good when they came out. So, [Willie] just wanted to make sure he got the melody straight on.

And then Booker T. [Jones], who was living in California, we got ahold of Booker T., and Booker T. played with us — and that was a real inspiration for us, you know.

See, Willie never tells us how to play. So we get to create ourself. If I’m playing fancy, he might say, “It’s too busy.” But, like [Willie] told me one time, if I wasn’t a better drummer than he was he wouldn’t have hired me.

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