Little Feat - "Willin'" (1972)
Producer Ted Templeman worked with the Doobie Brothers, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and Aerosmith, but is most known for helping to discover and produce Van Halen.
This is a great folk song. It's a travel song, a blue collar worker song, and a drug song all rolled up together. It's no wonder that it is a country and roots rock favorite. Originally covered by Linda Ronstadt, it has been covered by the Black Crows, Dwight Yoakam and Bob Dylan. This version is kind of a cover in and of itself. This is off of Salin' Shoes, the second Little Feat album, and it appeared on the eponymous debut album in a really stripped down version first. Almost all of the versions are tremendously faithful, there's not a lot of change you want to do to a trucker song that so perfectly encapsulates the feeling of being on the inside of a rig. Singer, guitar player, and songwriter Lowell George really lets his voice lead you into the story. He's world weary, beat down, misses his woman, subsisting on nothing by uppers and downers, and yet if there's a load that needs to get somewhere, he's still your man.
It's a short song, under three minutes, and yet it includes a beautiful duet between a slide guitar and a piano. He sings the chorus twice, backed by the other three members of the band, and only two verses. It's a song that could easily have been stretched out by any other artist, a five or six minute version with more verses about different parts of the country, different women, and more solos, but instead he ties it up in such a neat bow.