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Teatro gives us Willie Nelson, the storyteller. Willie Nelson gives us a story in song of love and betrayal, obsession and violence, loneliness and alienation, and domestic abuse. In this song story of love and murder, the voice belongs to the killer. It is all terribly and horribly personal, close up, chilling to the bone. There are men who kill women, Willie tells us, who love women to death, and there you are, suddenly, inside the killer's mind.

All the clues we have learned to notice in relationships, those in our own lives and the lives of our sisters and mothers, are here in the words written and sung by Willie Nelson. The deadly progression from adoration to control, insecurity to abuse, abandonment to violence, spiraling out of control until it can end nowhere but in death.

All there is to know about domestic abuse, here, in the words to the songs: the regrets, the misplaced victim identity, the self-absorption, both grandiose and the tragic.

"Everywhere I Go"

No matter where our trails will finally wind/Our paths will just keep crossing yours and mine/Until then in my pocket you must go/I'll take you with me everywhere I go--

"Darkness on the Face of the Earth"
The stars fell out of heaven/The moon could not be found/The sun was in a million pieces scattered all around/Why did you ever leave me?/You knew how it would hurt/And now there's darkness on the face of the earth--

"Home Hotel"
The rooms are all a shambles/Things are scattered everywhere on the floor/Just another sign of how much I need you/I call your name and then remember you don't live here anymore--

"I Just Can't Let You Say Goodbye"
I had not planned on seeing you/I was afraid of what I'd do/But pride is strong and here am I/I just can't let you say good-bye--

Please have no fear, you're in no harm/As long as you're here in my arms/But you can't leave so please don't try--

The flesh around your throat is pale/indented by my fingernails/Please don't scream please don't cry/I just can't let you say goodbye--

"Somebody Pick Up My Pieces"
Don't follow my footsteps/Step over my trail/The road is too narrow/And your footing could fail/And the fall to the bottom could tear you apart/And they'll be pickin' up pieces of you and your heart.

Where does any man get the courage to express this kind of pain? The answer can only be in the music, in its clean, uncluttered introspection, in the stark, sere, loneness of the singer. It's blue collar blues, more country music. Only three of the songs are new, written in the 1990s, the rest are refashioned from the 1960s, and the 30 years in between scarcely matter. The songs were chosen and pieced together to tell this story or convey this concept, whichever way you want to see it. And they do succeed in working together. They succeed in taking hold of your heart and grabbing onto it hard.

In Willie Nelson's mature voice, the older songs take on a new edge and freshness. Emmy Lou Harris's background voice deepens the poignancy and works sweetly with Willie's. Hers is the ghostly voice of the victim and, ironically, but not uniquely, still a loving one. It moves in out of a distance, as if from the grave.