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Willie Nelson - Red Headed Stranger

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


Red Headed Stranger - Willie Nelson

Red Headed Stranger - Willie Nelson

The Bottom Line

Willie Nelson fought hard against the mainstream to get this album released on his own terms. He wanted it to go as it isSimple, sharply focused, absolutely pure, and a gigantic departure from the Nashville ideal of highly-produced, radio-friendly crossover-ready faux-country. Then, as now, an artist had to fight for what he believed. Fortunately, instead of washing out and going back to Texas, Willie prevailed, and produced one of the finest albums ever made in country music.
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  • "Time of the Preacher"
  • "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain"
  • "Bandera"


  • None.


  • Classic concept album released in 1975, digitally remastered with 4 unreleased bonus tracks.
  • Contains Willie's first-ever #1 hit, "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain."
  • Went to #1 on the country charts, #28 on the pop charts.

Guide Review - Willie Nelson - Red Headed Stranger

Willie Nelson saved country music. Okay, maybe that's an extreme view, but he at least kept it alive for a time. With the release of the incredible concept album, "Red-Heaed Stranger," Willie thumbed his nose at convention and told them not to mess with his vision. With huge reservations, this non-commercial, non-saleable, non-entity of a record was released by Columbia... and promptly went on to be a gigantic smash, turning Willie from mere successful songwriter to performing genius. (If only a record label could dare take such a chance again!)

Willie produced and arranged this labor of love himself. After two decades of hard work in Nashville, he'd finally bucked the system that kept trying to make him into the slick image of Jim Reeves or Eddy Arnold, and he did music his way, as Willie. No string section. No choral harmonics. No pop. Just Willie, his guitar, some truly select musicians, largely acoustic, such as Paul english, Jody Payne, and Bucky Meadows.

One of my favorite all-time albums quite obviously took its inspiration from this Willie classic, Marty Stuart's sadly less successful "The Pilgrim." These days it's a lot harder to take a concept album to radio, much less the charts. It's unlikely any modern artistical concept disc could be as successful commerically as "Stranger." But oh, if only they would still try!

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