My favorite Willie Nelson songs through all space and time
A few weeks ago, I told you I’d be doing these random Top 5 lists from time to time. Perhaps you recall my first subject was Dolly Parton. I’ve been looking at that Willie & the Wheel ad from the corner of my eye on this page for days now, and it’s needled its way so far into my brain that I have no other option at the moment than to share my favorite Willie Nelson songs of all time. Feel free to cast your own votes in the comments, or tell me how wrong I am to leave out a song you think belongs on this list.
Let’s begin, in order of how I thought of them this morning:
1. “Shotgun Willie”
Shotgun Willie is one of my very favorite Willie Nelson albums and the title track is a pretty badass little jam. Sure, it’s not the most emotionally stirring tune or the most provocative narrative Willie’s penned through the years, but “You can’t make a record if you ain’t got nothing to say” should be written on a poster and framed in every recording studio in America to deter the folks who approach microphones for all the wrong reasons.
2. “On the Road Again”
Folks who hit the road to play music either come to hate touring or come to feel as though it’s the only true way to live. You know which one you are when you get home, find yourself sitting on the couch trying to figure out how to be in the same place more than a few days in a row. I’m pretty sure people who don’t drive around the country making music can appreciate this song, but not in the same way as those of us who spend good chunks of our lives “like a band of gypsies, [going] down the highway.”
3. “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground”
I don’t have a whole lot to add to the video for this song. I think the song speaks for itself. It’s got one of those long, languid melodies that’s built for almost any kind of voice to sing well.
4. “Can I Sleep in Your Arms”
Willie is so good with the heartbreak songs. This one is so beautiful and he sings it like crying alone in the dark.
5. “You Were Always On My Mind”
That’s right, I made it through this whole list without including “Whiskey River.” I’m can’t stomach whiskey, although I haven’t given up trying. I’m pretty sure it’s something I’ll earn a taste for sooner or later. As of yet, I don’t want a whiskey river to take my mind but everyone needs a good tune to play on repeat while they drown their sorrows. For whatever reason, “You Were Always On My Mind” is my drinking song of choice. Because I’m a sap and, if I’ve resorted to a drinking song, it’s probably due to the one who got away.