In the case of Willie Nelson, you never can keep a good man down. As understated as always he has just released a new album today - Monday - and along with it a new single which if you needed any reminding he is telling you he is, 'Still Not Dead!' Not bad for a youngster who turns 84 on Saturday.

God's problem child

A pretty apt title for a man who has been pushing boundaries all his working life. On the album, he plays it a little more serious than he needs too, opening up to both his prophetic and spiritual sides. Yes, he may have settled back into the vagaries of advancing old age, but the fire burning inside has yet to be diminished.

On, 'Little House on the Hill,' he sings about the peace of belonging. On 'Old Timer,' and 'Your Memory has a Mind of its Own.' its the realisation that what is on the inside is not necessarily what appears on the outside. You may actually feel 24, but in reality, you are 84. He also sings of his friend Merle Haggard. 'He won't Ever be Gone,' but it could also be meant for those other greats, who have preceded him into the darkness sych as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Ray Price. But as for the first single and breezy video that accompanies it, 'I woke up still not dead again today,' is as apt an opening line as he has ever written, and boy, has he written a few.

The legacy

What can you really say about a man who has lived it, smoked it and drunk it as well?

From Crazy for Patsy Cline and a slew of hits for Elvis, he cut a mile wide furrow through the heart of Country music and made it very much what it has become today. Tired of Nashville in the early 70's and the slick songwriter he had become he turned to Texas and reinvented himself and the whole cowboy genre of country. From there he reinvented the great American Songbook of the 30's,40's and 50's, dabbling his feet in the jazzy undertones as well.

It did not deter from that aching voice that he was a more than useful guitar player as well. Using his battered old Martin gut string guitar the irreplaceable, Trigger, to invent fillers and runs which only enhanced the songs he was singing, because, a little like Sinatra, with him, the song is always what matters. His contributions to Farm Aid and any number of environmental projects sit heavy on his shoulders and through it all, he feels he has a deep affinity with the working man, no matter the privilege his work has brought him.

Like his friend Bob Dylan, he is on the 'never ending tour' currently running around the US in his 18th incarnation of his tour bus, Honeysuckle Rose. As another friend of his Neil Young would say.'Long May He Run!'