It's obvious after one spin of To Willie that Phosphorescent (aka Matthew Houck) has lived these Willie Nelson songs. His voice gets right to that place you need to be if you're down-and-out and your soul's wearing thin. The band is right there‚ too‚ swinging with the perfect stumble and weariness. To put it simply‚ they captured magic on this record. "Reasons to Quit" (listen below) is the first track‚ and it's a crusher‚ setting the tone to put it all on the line. The Willie inspiration hovers over the rest of the record, but the most enjoyable part is how the band inserts their own voice and feel to these songs. When the last track ends, you've forgotten that you've been listening to a bunch of Willie Nelson songs. This is not only a great homage; it's a great record.
"Reasons to Quit" - Phosphorescent

You wrote this great thing for us ( in State of Mind #29, page 14) about an experience you had when you were about three or four hearing Willie Nelson sing "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys." You said that experience still influences‚ to some degree‚ every song you sing. Could you elaborate on that experience? It sounds very vivid and transformational.
Yeah‚ that could be true. Gosh‚ I don't know if I could really elaborate any more than that. It was just this certain kind of feeling that in some way or another runs through every song that I've ever liked‚ or any kind of art actually‚ that has ever meant anything to me. It's any kind of art -- films‚ poems‚ books -- it all has that similar feeling that can be can be traced through all of that.
When did you realize it?
Umm… probably back then. Yeah.
The first time you had a transcendent moment with a song.
I think so. That's a great way to put it.
I've talked to other musicians about this‚ whether it's through an experience of improvisational bliss or through a song transporting you‚ about the type of things that will happen during that experience. Sometimes it will trigger dreams and other times it will trigger these thoughts or memories from childhood. Do you have experiences like that?
Well‚ it's not just musicians‚ is it? Isn't also listening to music? Isn't that what music does for everyone?
I hope so. It happens to me all the time. [laughs]
Exactly‚ yeah‚ yeah. I think it's just a matter of which things trigger it for which people. For me‚ I don't think I could clarify it. I just don't think I could tie down that feeling… or at least I don't know how to talk about it.
You've said you always knew you were going to make this record‚ To Willie‚ someday; it was just a matter of when the time would present itself. It came after almost a year of really hard touring. That feels appropriate… laughs for a lot of the songs.
Right‚ definitely.
Did you find coming home and playing these songs as sort of a healing process?
Yeah‚ absolutely. Without a doubt. A lot of what these songs are about have always hit home in a certain way‚ but certain parts of them were really‚ really hitting home at that time ending the touring. You know‚ it was just general exhaustion from being on the road for almost an entire year. A lot of the weariness in the songs really hit home.
I guess that's the biggest thing I take away from the album: it sounds like you've lived these songs. Did you find the experience of finding these songs and also playing these songs to be an empowering experience?
Definitely. I didn't have to find any of these songs. I've been knowing them for a really long time. It's not like I had to go digging around to find these songs -- they were already there. But it was definitely a comfort to sit down and play these songs instead of jumping into new Phosphorescent material right at that time. But I did want to be recording and doing something‚ so it felt like the perfect time.