Willin’

Written in 1970, "Willin'" was a mainstay of Little Feat, the band Lowell George had helped to found in 1970 and was a leading member of until his death on June 29, 1979. The song, John Tobler contends in the liner notes of As Time Goes By. The Very Best of Little Feat (1993), "quickly became a favorite among America’s truckdrivers, many of whom continue to regard it as the anthem of their profession . . . although absurdly it never has been a hit."

In George's lifetime, "Willin'" was recorded in three different versions (though more and more have surfaced). On the band’s debut album, Little Feat (1971), George made do with his own raspy voice and guitar, and the sparse accompaniment of Ry Cooder’s terse steel guitar. On Sailin’ Shoes (1972), the song was done by the whole band, the chorus harmonized by four voices, and  the piano solo was added by Bill Payne — "eh bill o' pain," as pronounced by George six years later, on the spectacularly successful live double album, Waiting for Columbus (1978). There, "Willin’" became hymnic, and was followed without interruption by "Don’t Bogart That Joint," another classic tune George had a hand in (he was briefly a member of Fraternity of Man, too).

He had also done a brief stint with Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention (allegedly he was given leave by the master because he was too good and wild). Little Feat, founded in 1970, continued through troubled times; producing their first album in 1971, which was lauded by critics but neglected by buyers, they went on, doing an album a year, each more celebrated than the other, but failing to find the attention of buyers. The band was on the verge of breaking up several times while critics hailed Sailin’ Shoes and Dixie Chicken. Feats Don’t Fail Me Now was the first album that also sold, though not spectacularly. The band grew and diversified the style (the new members — Sam Clayton, Ken Gradney, and Paul Barrére — brought in an element of New Orleans, the Cajun and jazzy blending with George's downhome LA blues and the escapes to Mexico.The Last Record Album was voted best record of the year, and Melody Maker proclaimed, "Little Feat is the best U.S. band of the decade." The tour of 1976/77 snowballed, filling the largest concert halls and receiving lavishing praise. It became a legend — captivated on a live double album that is a monument in the history of rock music, Waiting for Columbus.

-- Lowell George

Willin'
Little Feat (1971)

I been warped by the rain, driven by the snow
I'm drunk and dirty don't ya know, and I'm still, oh I'm still
Out on the road late at night, I seen my pretty Alice in every head light
Alice, Dallas Alice
 
I've been from Tuscon to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonapah
Driven every kind of rig that's ever been made
Now I driven the back roads so I wouldn't get weighed
And if you give me: weed, whites, and wine
and you show me a sign
I'll be willin', to be movin'
 
Now I smuggled some smokes and folks from Mexico
baked by the sun, every time I go to Mexico, and I'm still
And I've been kicked be the wind, robbed by the sleet
Had my head stoved in and I'm still on my feet and I'm willin', oh I'm willin'
 
And I been from Tuscon to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonapah
Driven every kind of rig that's ever been made
Driven the back roads so I wouldn't get weighed
And if you give me: weed, whites, and wine
and then you show me a sign
I'll be willin', to be movin'

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(the Waiting for Columbus version)
for lyrics, cords and annotations
click below
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(the Sailin' Shoes version)

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