Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time - Rated 237/500!
Willie Nelson's 1975 concept album, with its mystic and religious overtones, broke all of the traditional rules of country music and helped establish Austin, Texas, as ground zero of the "Outlaw" movement! Nelson's self-financed, surprise double-platinum smash helped him reach by far his largest audience and yielded the #1 country single (and Top 20 pop hit) Blues Eyes Crying in the Rain.
Willie Nelson has been part of our collective consciousness far longer than his legendary status as a performer. Long before the formally pony-tailed master of song was singing Stardust, Always On My Mind, and Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain (none of which he wrote) Nelson was a master lyricist for some of country musics greatest stars. Among the hits he wrote are Patsy Clines Crazy, Roy Orbisons Pretty Paper and the autobiographical Night Life for Ray Price.
Following the brilliant Phases And Stages Willies debut for Columbia is a brilliant concept album (nearly unheard of in country music) based around the song and story of the Red Headed Stranger. Although the song had been previously recorded by Eddy Arnold, it was Willie who would take the song to a much higher level by putting together an entire cycle of songs based around the tragic story of the Red Headed Stranger. Nelsons album is a stunning mix of original and classic songs. Among the highlights are his heart-felt interpretations of Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain, Time Of The Preacher and Can I Sleep In Your Arms by the prolific song writer Hank Cochran.
Red Headed Stranger also features Willies Family, his band, featuring his sister Bobbie (piano), Jody Payne (guitar, mandolin), the impeccable harmonica of Mickey Raphael, and the ever flawless Billy English on drums.
"Newly signed to Columbia, Nelson was feeling ambitious. "It was the first time I had 'artistic control,' " he recalled. "So I thought I would just start writing." Nelson had penned the song "Red Headed Stranger" years before; on a drive back to Austin after a Colorado ski trip, he fleshed out the yarn his wife, Connie, writing down the lyrics as they came out of his mouth. He kept the arrangements extremely spare, in sharp contrast to the gussied-up music coming out of Nashville at the time. The songs locked together to tell a tale of murder and infidelity, and the concept album became one of Nelson's biggest hits." - www.rollingstone.com
"Nelson had gotten his start writing hits like 'Crazy' for Patsy Cline, but his own breakthrough was a cover of an old country standard written by Rose in 1945 and originally recorded by Roy Acuff. Delivered with Nelsons jazz-singer phrasing, its the beating heart of Red Headed Stranger, his 1975 concept album about love and death in the Old West." - Rolling Stone
• Vinyl LP
• Limited time digital download
Willie Nelson, vocals, guitar
Paul English, drums
Jody Payne, guitar, mandolin
Bee Spears, bass
Bobbie Nelson, piano
Mickey Raphael, harmonica
Bucky Meadows, guitar
Billy English, drums
1. Time Of The Preacher
2. I Couldn't Believe It Was True
3. Time Of The Preacher Theme
4. Medley: Blue Rock Montana / Red Headed Stranger
5. Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
6. Red Headed Stranger
7. Time Of The Preacher Theme
8. Just As I Am
2. O'er The Waves
3. Down Yonder
4. Can I Sleep In Your Arms
5. Remember Me (When The Candle Lights Are Gleaming)
6. Hands On The Wheel