Ten essential Willie Nelson songs


  1. “Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain” (1975) Willie’s first number one single and the reason why “The Red Headed Stranger” is often considered his masterpiece.
  2. “Angel Flying Too Close To the Ground” (1980) Perhaps the great one’s greatest lyrics, this live staple (from “Honeysuckle Rose”) also inspires his most expressionist guitar playing. This is the song that made Amy Irving fall for Willie.
  3. “Georgia On My Mind” (1978) Only Willie would take this kind of chance- recording an album of standards when he’s finally climbed to the top of country music. And only Willie would come out of it with his best-selling album ever. “Georgia” was a smash from “Stardust.”
  4. “Always On My Mind” (1982) Nelson wraps a red bandanna around this song and makes it his own.
  5. “On the Road Again” (1980) Willie’s philosophy set to music.
  6. “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” (1977) In a coin flip with “Good-Hearted Woman” from Willie’s mid-70s heyday.
  7. “In God’s Eyes” (1973) Representing both Willie’s spiritual side and the brilliant concept LP “Yesterday’s Wine,” the precursor to “Red Headed Stranger.”
  8. “The Party’s Over” (1967) Immortalized as Don Meredith’s version of “Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye” during the glory years of “Monday Night Football.”
  9. “You Don’t Know Me” (2004) The standout track of Willie’s Cindy Walker tribute album also pays homage to his old friend Ray Charles.
  10. “Night Life” (1965) Ray Price did the definitive version of Willie’s cowboy blues classic (which bombed on the charts), but it’s always great to hear it from the man who wrote it.

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